Monday, March 21, 2011

The eyes of a child

Up until recently I had a quote at the close of my work email.  We were asked to help do our part to reduce memory space, and were asked to remove any extraneous information in our email signatures.  After a few clicks of the mouse, my quote was gone and all that remained was the most necessary information.  Just doing my part, I guess :)

When I deleted the quote though, I read it for the first time in a while.  Sure, I send work emails all the time, but since the signature piece is automatically attached on the end, I don't read it over.  The quote I had chosen so many years ago when I started working at my current place of employment read, "Seek the wisdom of the ages, but look at the world through the eyes of a child".  Originally I chose this quote because of the connection that I have to my career; a reminder of why I do what I do.  I teach for the kids.  It's not for June, July, and August.  It's not for the paycheck.  It's not for the hours of planning, grading, responding to emails, and data review that I have to do in order to be a more effective teacher.  It's for the kids.  Without them, I literally have no purpose in the school, except to have a great scope and sequence for how to teach reading, writing, and 'rithmetic...and no audience for whom to present the information. 

The quote kept me grounded.  It reminded me that when I have those stressful times in the school year when report cards are due, conferences are around the corner, our entire plan book for the week has been put through the wringer to accomodate the changes in schedule and routine...I'm there for the 29 (this year anyway) kids who will show up ready to learn, regardless of what craziness occurs during my planning period, before or after school.

Then I became a mom.  I definitely have read this quote since becoming a mom, especially as I changed grade levels and thus had to change information in my auto-signature.  But, I haven't really read the quote recently.  And by recently, I mean since my kids really started to view the world, or rather, interact with the world in the way they do now. 

We're past the 'learning to walk and talk and feed ourselves' phase.  We've learned colors, numbers, shapes, and opposites.  They both have the 'basics' down for the typical almost-5 and 3 year old child.  I've always been in love with watching my kids' faces as they learn and master new skills, tasks, and fun results about the world in which they live.  I want them to never lose that love of learning, that desire to seek out more information, the ability to view things from many perspective to gain a better understanding.  Sometimes I have the 'teacher fear' when it comes to the mastery of 'school skills', especially as kindergarten is right around the corner for my handsome dude. 

Today, I picked him up from pre-school and one of the papers in his folder had his name written on it, completely backwards.  As in, the 'N' was first (it was also written as a backwards 'N'), followed by the I, then V, A, and G (also backwards).  I cringed when I saw this, but only from the inside because it was obvious from his grin that Gavin was so proud of his shamrock picture.  My smiles on the outside didn't give any clue as the minor worry I had that he's 'losing' something in the days he isn't at pre-school.  That's when I stopped thinking, and started watching. And learning. 

Gavin doesn't really like to 'show off' when he's at school, (for fear that he won't be thought of as 'cool'?!) but he does open up a little more about his work once we've reached the car, and especially on the days Brynn is with us.  He absolutely thrives on taking the opportunity to keep his chatterbox of a sister at bay as he shares details of his day.  Today was no exception.  Brynn wanted to share every mundane detail of her day, but Gavin took hold of the conversation and started explaining the shamrock.  Last week, he had 'encountered' (of sorts) a leprechaun.  Up until this time, he was pretty oblivious to the whole St. Patrick's Day thing, mostly because we never generally did too much to celebrate (less the college years, when it was green beer, lime jello shots, etc, etc).  But last week, he was *captivated* by the concept of little green guys who caused mischief and left him gold wrapped candy.  Today, he got to bring home some of the work that he made for those naughty little leprechauns, and was proudly describing the picture he made.  Even Brynn was listening carefully...shocking, because the picture didn't have anything to do with her. 

I realized that when I first looked at Gavin's picture, I immediately went into 'teacher mode', 'mom mode', 'adult mode'.  I didn't go where I should have gone--into 'kid mode'.  Who cared that his letters were backwards?  Or that the hearts he used to make the picture were slightly 'off'?  They gave the picture even more 'charm' (pardon the pun).  Gavin didn't see any imperfections.  He saw a memory of one of what he had earlier described as 'the coolest days of school'.  In his 'child eyes', his picture was perfect, even if his letters weren't.  So basically, my almost-5 year old was inadvertently giving me some wisdom of the ages (the whole is greater than the sum of its parts), and looking at the world through the eyes of a child at the same time...and at the age of not-quite-five.  (Can you blame me for thinking that this kid's going to do some amazing things with his life?!)

Earlier in the day, I had the *honor* of spending time with Brynn, as I'm on spring break from work (I know, boo-hoo to me, right?!).  Does this little girl know how to remind me to look at the world through the eyes of a child, or what?!  There were at least 3 dozen times that I found myself smiling at the sheer innocence of her adorable little rabbit-toothed smile and electrified hairdo. 

When I went to my 36 week appointment today for the baby (all's good...I even 'lost' some weight), they needed to do a finger prick to check my blood sugar (standard procedure for my doc at this appt).  When B realized what the nurse was about to do, she shouted, "don't hurt my mommy!!!" and proceeded to cry that she wanted to go home.  Both the nurse and I had to reassure her that it didn't hurt, that they were making sure baby is ok and mommy is ok.  The nurse was great, and let Brynn see the machine that read the results, let her hold the cotton ball on my finger, and helped her wrap the Band-Aid around my fingertip.  Her 'child eyes' viewed her mommy getting hurt, but thankfully the nurse's wisdom knew to have B help make me feel better.

After lunch today, we took advantage of the *gorgeous* weather, and B played in the backyard, blowing bubbles and playing with her new purple ball she picked out at the store today.  I was sitting on the deck with my feet up, and decided to start reading the new book I downloaded on my Kindle.  But, about 4 or 5 'pages' in, I stopped reading and just sat back to watch Brynn.  She was in her own little world, having an absolute field day swinging on her tummy, giggling and laughing as though it was the best thing in the whole entire world.  At first I was proud of myself for taking a little time to step away from the 'to-do' list that is always looming overhead, but as I watched Brynn, I realized that that 30 minute time period I was 'allowing' myself to experience wasn't truly what it should have been.  I still had the notes app on my phone opened and was adding things to it as I thought of them while I was 'reading'.  So much for relaxing.

But watching Brynn, she reminded me that sometimes it's important to swing the wrong way, stare down at the grass, and just laugh.  She spent time giving her new ball a ride on the swing, went down the slide nearly every possible way you can imagine, and enjoyed a multitude of cookies while taunting the dogs with her tasty treats.  And you know what she was thinking about?  Yeah, me neither...but I can speculate.  She was most likely thinking about the wonder of the moment, the way the wind took her bubbles to new heights, and how hilarious it was to see a giant purple ball sitting on her swing.  Not the 'to do' list she had lurking in the depths of her brain.  To her, 'to do' doesn't exist.  She lists her 'I wants'.  Things she would like to do, places she'd like to go, toys she'd like to have (she's such a toy-deprived child!). 

I'm glad that my work asked us to remove the extraneous parts of our signature, because I was able to be reminded to remove some of the extraneous *stuff* in my life.  Backwards letters don't matter, because the picture reminds us of a great memory.  Finger pokes can be really scary things until you realize you've helped make your mommy feel better.   Bubbles and swings and slides make laughter even 'gigglier', and to really, truly *enjoy* life, you need to forget the 'to do'...but focus on a little of the 'I want'. 

My kids will be kids for quite some more years, but I hope that they remember to always look at the world through the eyes of a child--no matter what age they are.

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