Thursday, January 22, 2009

Our Children as Teachers

It has been an emotional roller coaster week.

Tuesday, watching President Obama (those 2 words never fail to make me tingle) take the oath of office was an incredible high. How can you not be awed by this humble man who used the word "we" throughout his entire speech instead of that all too common and arrogant "I" word.
I was happy to share this moment in history with my best friend and our hopes for a better future were lifted anew.

Today, I volunteered in my daughter's classroom. I have been doing more of this since being laid off from my part-time job. It's a funny thing. I volunteered to help the children, but they ultimately have helped me in ways that they do not even realize.

I helped a 10-year old boy with his writing piece entitled, "Things I Love." Putting his thoughts together, and then jotting them down on paper, does not come easily to him. However, he regaled me with a story about his deep and abiding love for his three dogs. He told me that one of them has been with him since he was a baby. His dog is 13 years old now and his body is starting to shut down in his advancing years. This boy, who is not one to make long eye contact, looked me straight in the eye and said, "He's my best friend." His love for his dog is unconditional and it runs incredibly deep. Just like the boy.

Yesterday, I assisted a young girl with her reading homework. She told me that she would soon be moving from their house into a duplex, because her dad was going to lose his job. She said that they had to move to a smaller place because her dad didn't have enough money to afford the house payment. Then she mentioned, "My uncle lost his job, too."

I look at these children and I think, "Man, I want to just scoop you up and hug you. I don't want you to have to think about these terrible things." The looming death of a best friend. Is our family going to have a place to live and food to eat? These worries are just too big for 10 year olds...and sometimes too big sometimes for 41 year olds, too.

And while their concerns break my heart inside, I am amazed by their resiliency and their strength. They strengthen me. They remind me of all that I have and of all that I am. Children are powerful teachers in their own right, and they never fail to teach me something.

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My daughter and I went to lunch afterward.

She told me, "I did a good deed today, Mommy."

"Tell me about it."

"Well, one of the kids didn't do very well on their timed math test and she was so upset that she started crying."

"That's very sad. What did you do?"

"I went over and gave her a big hug and told her, 'It's okay.'"
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Another life lesson slapped me in the face.

I just found out this morning that one of my aunts has a very bad cancer in her body. Her chances aren't looking very good, and I am very sad. I asked Linda, "What do I SAY???" I drive myself nuts and muck things up when I try to say and do things perfectly.

It was simple. My daughter gave me the answer at lunch time. All I have to do is to hug my Aunt and say, "It's okay." Our children. They are so incredibly wise.

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