I have been thinking so much lately about what my own personal children are absorbing from me during this time. Spending 24/7 together playing and working and learning and being a family is one of the most precious and most pressure filled experiences we have had as a family. They are learning so much about grace, patience and love from my husband and I. But, they are also learning important lessons about mental health, about the need for self care, about managing big emotions and knowing when enough is enough from us too.
You see, like every family out there I am sure, we have our ups and we have our downs. Focusing on the gratitude we have for getting to spend this time together has been an essential part of our daily routine and has shifted our mindset on many days to just how privileged we are. But on some days, gratitude is just not enough. On the hard days, the days full of tears and anger for the situation we are in and the unmet expectations that the COVID crisis has brought our way, we are trying to learn together to lean into the feelings and to hold the space for the hard stuff too. Not to dwell, not to give in and give up, but to acknowledge the emotions and sit in the uncomfortableness knowing that this too shall pass.
Our kids are always watching. Now more than ever. And I am hoping that I am teaching them enough along the way so that they remember this as time of struggle where perseverance and connection and love made all the difference in the world. That mistakes and big emotions are vessels to learning and that the repair is most important of all.
And when I think they aren’t watching and soaking this in? I am reminded of this little blog that I wrote a few years ago about some very special little ones who were always watching…
Enjoy this story knowing that we won’t always get it right… and that’s ok! My kids will see me cry and stomp and have little patience during this time, but ultimately what matters is that I keep in mind “…they are always listening. Always watching. Even from a table away. No matter if we are talking to ourselves, another child or another family member, those precious ears are always listening. Always…”. But being aware that little eyes are watching helps me remember to breathe, to connect and to teach the best way I know how during a pandemic…
To you this looks like a hairbrush…
To me it looks like so much more.
Let me explain…
Just before Christmas we were completing a writing activity in our Kindergarten classroom. The task was simple. “If I could give ANYONE in the world a present I would give _____ to _____”. Simple. Easy. But sneakily I knew it would give me a lot of information about my learners and where their heads were at during the busy, hectic and sometimes stressful Christmas season.
They were awesome.
“I would give my Mom a new pair of red high heels because her shoes are old and ugly”.
“I would give my sister the doll she wants because I like to see her happy”.
“I would give poor people food because I don’t want them to be hungry”.
Right?! Kindergarten GOLD.
And then came this one…
“I would give Mrs. McIntosh a brush so she could brush her beautiful hair”.
My heart! So the conversation went a little something like this…
“Oh R! Your answer makes me SO happy! First of all, because out of anyone in the world you chose ME! You make me feel so special. And secondly because I would LOVE a new brush. A special one that I could keep at school and use especially on windy days! Thank you for thinking of me!”
That’s where I thought the story would end but unbeknownst to me a little set of little boy ears sitting at the table behind us just happened to have heard the whole thing.
So, in rolls J on Monday morning with a beautiful card and a present for me. I had NO idea what it would be! I open it up and it is the prettiest green brush I’ve ever seen.
J’s Mom tries to explain to me how badly he wanted to bring me a brush and why she wasn’t sure he was so adamant. But I immediately knew why….
I knew he had heard my story. From another table. Without my knowing. And that he cared SO much about what I had said that that he HAD to get me a brush.
I’ve kept the brush at school since and I have purposely used it in front of him whenever I get the chance because here is what I have learned…
To you, this looks like a hairbrush.
It looks like love. Our students love us more than we will ever know.
It looks like kindness. Our students, when given the opportunity and the trust, will constantly surprise us with acts of kindness that will bring grown adults to tears.
It looks like compassion. Our students hear our struggles and want to help us solve them.
It looks like hope. Our students will make this world a better place. No. doubt. about. it.
To you this looks like a brush but to me this is a symbol to remind me of something very, very important.
It reminds me that they are always listening. Always watching. Even from a table away. No matter if we are talking to ourselves, another student or another staff member, those precious ears are ALWAYS listening. ALWAYS.
So, I will use this brush to brush my “beautiful” hair on the windy days BUT I will also use it to remind me that I need to be a beacon of positivity in my room and in our halls. I will use it to remind me that they need to see me be vulnerable and kind and empathetic and loving. I will use it to remind me that I have the choice to be an incredible role model for them by focusing on the amazingness of our world and of education. I will use it to remind me that they are someone’s everything and that their giant hearts show me that we are all going to be ok.
This looks like a brush to you but to me? It’s a lesson to be held in my hand and to guide me through my Kindergarten days.