Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Another Year of Learning




 Well, today's the last day of school for our kiddos. While that evokes some sentimental feelings for many of us parents, it also made me stop and reflect back on how much our kids have grown and learned this year. There have been many things academically that our kids have learned over the past school year thanks to the diligent and careful instruction of many awesome teachers. But there have also been many things our kids have learned as a result of slowly maturing and being encouraged both at home and school to look at situations from a variety of angles.

As a parent, I share the same battles I'm sure many of you do with your kids – the constant sassing back, the "attitudes", the self-centered behaviors, the verbal jabs, all the things that come with our kids being young and thinking they know everything...and most certainly exempt from needing mom and dad to correct them on anything. Honestly, more days than not, I find myself shaking my head, wondering if I'm doing anything right as a parent. Then every once in a while, I see glimmers of hope and reassurance that all of my praying, nagging, and reinforcing might be sinking in a little bit.

Last night we'd tucked the kids in and about 20 minutes later, I heard little feet sneaking down the stairs to my office where I was doing some work. I sighed thinking, "Seriously, just GO TO BED!", slightly annoyed because I wanted to finish what I was working on without interruption. But I took a deep breath and turned away from my computer to see what Carson needed. I had sort of rushed bedtime because the kids had been up late the past couple nights and I wanted them to get to sleep at a decent time, and in my haste, I skirted around our usual "quiet time" where Carson and I lay in the dark for a few minutes and he whispers things to me about his day.

He had this very intense, excited, half-smile look on his face – it was obvious he needed to talk. I asked him what was up and he says:

"I just needed to tell someone about this or else I think I'm gonna EXPLODE! Well, remember when I told you about that girl K at school who acts kind of different sometimes? Today when we had our kickball tournament at school, K kicked the ball right to me and when I saw it was her, I remembered when we'd talked and you said she acts different and sometimes gets extra help because she was a foster kid who didn't have a family for a while and she has had a pretty hard life without a family until 3rd grade. So when she kicked the ball to me, I pretended like I fumbled the ball and took extra time to throw the ball so she wouldn't get out. I just wanted her to get on base and she was SO happy when she did! She was jumping up and down, and I was trying to act frustrated like I had really tried my best to get her."

Then he flung his arms around my neck, hugged me and said, "I was just so happy to see her smile and do good!".


I had tears welling up in my eyes as I told him how proud I was of him for thinking about how to help make K feel successful and happy without making a big deal about it. We talked for a bit more about how our actions will always show others more about our hearts than words will. He said a couple other boys gave him a hard time for not getting K out, but he said, "I told them it wasn't a big deal and we were just having fun – and K deserved to have fun, too".

As I was thinking more about this, I was reflecting on how refreshing it is to see kids today who have parents working so hard to mold and shape them into honorable individuals of integrity and character who show acts of kindness even if it's not necessarily the "popular" thing to do. We've been blessed with many kids like this who our family has come to know and love, and when I see them treat others lovingly with respect, I always try to let their parents know how much I appreciate that and how it's impacted me. Some specific examples that come to mind over the course of this past school year that have warmed my heart to witness (pertaining to Peyton):

• Being approached by a lovely girl Peyton has known since daycare and having her ask if she could attend our weekly Special Olympics practices to be a "helper" with Peyton and other athletes. {Thank you, Alaina!}

• Seeing our sweet neighbor boys agree to sit in the front seat with Peyton on the bus per her request...even though their buddies were calling them to their usual seats further back on the bus. {Thank you, Isaac & Colin!}

• Seeing another darling neighbor friend gladly accept Peyton's invitation to come over and play...even though that basically meant her sitting and watching Peyton sort through the ever-growing collection of Hot Wheels cars. {Thank you, Julia!}

• Hearing from Peyton how a boy who is friends with both Peyton and Carson takes the time to chat and play with Peyton at school...even though he could chose to go run around with some of the "cooler" kids. {Thank you, Jake!}

I could go on and on with other examples from this past school year, but my point is this – as another school year comes to a close, I want to thank parents and school staff for encouraging kids to be conscientious of others needs and feelings. Don't miss opportunities to celebrate non-academic things our kids are learning because, in all honesty–in the grand scheme of things, they're even more important than a standardized test score or a grade {although those are obviously important as well}. Our society tends to have such an ego-centric focus, and learning to put others needs before your own is most definitely not the "popular" thing to do, BUT it makes such a difference in the lives of the individual(s) who are on the receiving end of that kindness...and you just never know how one simple act might impact that person or their family...or how it may influence others watching. Keep up the great work moms, dads and school staff, enjoy the summer, and be intentional in seeking out ways to appreciate and serve others so our kids have opportunities to experience what it does for the soul when you love on people. It's pretty amazing...and can be world-changing. Cheers to another great year of learning!

"Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth."

 - 1 John 3:18



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1 comment:

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