"Sometimes the questions are complicated but the answers are simple." -Dr. Seuss
While sitting in church this morning, my eight year-old asked me a question. He wanted to know what the money is for that we put into the collection basket each week. I gave him the quick simple answer. "They use it to pay for the electricity." With a quick nod he let me know I had given him all the answer he needed.
I distinctly remember asking my mom or dad (that part of the memory is fuzzy) the same question when I was little. And I distinctly remember the answer they gave me. "They use it to buy diapers for baby Jesus." I was pretty little at the time, maybe only two or three, but I will never forget that. It was a sweet answer, obviously not the truth, but it was all I needed.
I have learned over time that children can ask some pretty deep questions. And sometimes we want to give them really long answers when all they are really looking for is a little reassurance.
I don't know why the answer my parents gave me has stayed with me for so long. It's just a little moment in a childhood full of memories but the point is that it did stay with me.
The things we say as parents and teachers make an undeniable impression on children. Hopefully they remember the good things, but there are times when I've said things to my children that I hope they will forget. Things said out of anger, or when I just wasn't thinking. They are observers of our behavior.
I was reminded earlier this week how impressionable children can be when a mother of one of my former students stuck her head in my room to tell me that her daughter said, "I wish I was back in Mrs. Kindergarten's class again."
I smiled and thanked her. This little girl and I had a rough year together. We had a lot of behavior issues that had to be addressed, she tried my patience on a daily basis and it was necessary for me to be "tough" on her. So I was really surprised when her mom relayed her daughter's sentiments.
My co-worker happened to be in the room for that exchange and she reminded me that I should feel really good about what she said. She told me, "you made an impression on that little girl because you gave her boundries, you were patient with her and you were nice to her and you made her feel loved."
My perceptions of the year I had with her weren't at all the same, but it isn't my perceptions that mattered here, but hers, and I'm proud of that.