This is one of my posts that begins in a comment to a friend. This time, that friend was Pixie Dust. Here's what I wrote to her:
How did you do it? Make me laugh and cry in just five paragraphs? I laughed so hard when you wrote the corner was mine. In first grade, I had a corner of my own, too. I got put there for talking. Talking, talking, talking. My meanie-pants teacher made me face the corner, which only made me more obstinate than ever. I don't think he ever managed to shut me up. I turned around and talked out of plain old cussedness. I've disliked that old coot for years, but as I write this I realize that I probably owe him for my excellent verbal skills. I began honing them in his class after all.I've been thinking about the teachers I had. Isn't it funny how we often remember the terrible ones? Perhaps we had one or two special teachers, but the rest just fade away in our memories. I wonder why that is? Or maybe it's just me. Whom do you remember better, the great teachers or the ones who hurt you somehow?
I wrote a post some time ago about speaking gently to each other, about being kind. A woman wrote back to me and told me a heartbreaking story. When she was eleven her teacher made fun of her in front of the class. More than fifty years later, she still hurt, still refused to speak in front of groups. That just makes me weep to think of. We all hold such power over each other's hearts. Sure, we all know that we shouldn't give people that power, but that's a subject for another post. I guess I just wanted to write about how important it is for us all to speak gently to each other. To be tender with each other's efforts and dreams. And choices. Most especially to be gentle and patient and tender with our little ones.
I have a tough class this year, and it has been a loooooong five weeks. Maybe I'm just writing this to remind myself of what I know deep inside. Lord knows I need reminding to be patient and speak gently as the hot afternoons grow long. When I think about my class I just keep thinking a few things over and over. And so.
And so I write them here as a reminder to me. Hoping that maybe they will be words someone else needs to read today. I keep thinking:
* I may be the only person who touches them with tenderness today.Wouldn't the world be even more wonderful if we all lived as though everything we did had a life-long impact on someone? It could. You know, it really could. Just ask my friend.
* My smile may be the first one they've had this morning.
* The environment I create may be the only safe place they have.
* If I give an impatient answer, it could crush a spirit or extinguish a spark.
* If I listen with real attention, it might fan a tiny spark into a lifelong flame.
* My arms might be the only pair that offers a hug today.
* My sincere apology might be the first adult one they ever hear.
* When I say, "I love you", each child hears it deep in their heart.
* I will never know what small act of mine will create a life-long memory. Let my words, my attitudes, my actions be good ones. Let them be full of encouragement and affection. Let them be full of love. Every day, all day long.
The illustration above is by Gabi Swiatkowska from the book Waiting for Gregory by Kimberly Willis Holt. I think. It could be from Summertime Waltz, which is just as lovely.