Yesterday was the last day of grade 1 for my oldest. For those of you have followed along with me this year, you may remember my post: The day my son called himself an ass… and the devastating reality that followed. Ben’s had a rough year adjusting to grade 1. The good news is that I was able to volunteer to observe my son in school. We also started inviting different school mates home every Friday to have playdates, allowing Ben to get to know the kids in his class one on one. This helped tremendously. However, even with all the assistance, every day when I would ask Ben how his day was, his response never changed: “It was awful, Mom”. I’m still not sure why school was so terrible for him, as when I would observe him in school, everything seemed fine and they did some pretty cool things! (like learn to count in 2’s, 3’s, 5’s by programming moveable robots! Where was that when I was a kid?!)
One of the greatest challenges Ben faced this year was with his teacher. In his words, “She hates me! She’s always picking on me!” You can rest assured this is not true, as I observed her interactions with Ben. Unfortunately, I think it’s more a matter of Ben’s issues with sitting still and being quiet for periods of time. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…
For the last day of school, I asked Ben to write his teacher a thank you card. “NO WAY!”, was his immediate response. I realized I was asking a great deal of him. In his 6 year old world, his teacher was his arch nemesis out to sabotage any ounce of joy and fun from his life. Ben was about to learn a valuable lesson about finishing well.
There have been times in my life when I have come through situations and relationships that have been challenging or hurtful. I received some amazing advice from a mentor once about this. He taught me the art of blessing those who hurt. He told me to look my nay-sayers strait in the eye and thank them on my way out. Sincerely, of course. This was powerful for my character. Every ounce of me had to work through my pain and frustration to be able to come to that final moment of looking in the eye with a thank you. It was painful, but when over, I felt more resilient.
Yesterday, Ben got to experience his first taste of this. He gave his teacher the card he made for her, looked her in the eye and said “Thank you for being my teacher”. I am so proud of him. As we left the school I turned and looked at him and said, “You finished well. It’s over. I’m proud of you”. We need to learn this art in ourselves and pass it onto our children. If we learn to cultivate this, when troubles beyond our capability hit, we will find a well of resilience and endurance, rather than apathy.