Walking in the hallway yesterday I found myself in lock step with a kindergartener. Actually, my pace was moderately accelerated. There was a lot going on in the moment. I was in a hurry.
The kid was probably taking three or four steps to my one, and steadfastly determined to keep pace. To her credit, she made it work.
Think about a cartoon kid, Charlie Brown maybe, drawn with legs and feet in a blur to emphasize intense speed. Passers by might have found it comical. This kid could not have been more serious about it.
All the while she was delivering the news…
“My sister has a hamster.”
“Last night we had spaghetti for dinner, with curly noodles & red peppers in the sauce. I don’t eat the red peppers.”
“Turquoise is my favorite color…it’s blue and it’s green.”
“I can chew five pieces of gum at the same time.”
“I’m not allowed to chew five pieces of gum at the same time.”
“A shooting star is a-c-t-u-a-l-l-y a space rock.”
“I saw a cloud that looked like a dragon.”
…and conducting an interview.
“Do you like chocolate, vanilla, or twist?”
“How old are you?”
“Do you know what the second tallest building in the world is?”
“Have you ever seen a Koala bear?”
“What’s YOUR favorite color?”
Interestingly, I have an affinity for turquoise too. Coincidence? I don’t know.
Regardless, eventually we had to part ways. She had to turn into her classroom and I had to go do whatever very important things I was racing to do. It may have even been very, very important…I don’t recall.
I told the kid how fun it was walking and talking with her, and that I enjoyed hearing about the wonderful information she offered. I remarked on how thoughtful and interesting her questions were.
When I mentioned, in closing, that it would have been nice to have a bit more time to chat, she pragmatically replied, “Don’t worry Mr. Berg, I’m here every day.”
I smiled as she bounced into her classroom. I couldn’t help it.
It is truly a joyful reality for us parents and educators that our kids are here every day, and with that in mind, maybe we should be too.
I understand that we can’t always be present. In order to keep the train rolling we have to take meetings, make phone calls, read books and articles, brainstorm with colleagues, spend time alone in quiet reflection, and so on.
However, I also know that there are many ways to maintain a presence of heart and mind when we do have the good fortune of being together with the kids we serve. We must consider these ways, even and especially when we’re in a hurry.
When there are big, important things to do we must breath and remember our purpose.
When any kid is talking to us we must remember that our core interest is that kid’s, and every kids’ well-being, and that being well for kids includes being attentively listened to by adults with genuine interest in mind.
Parents and educators have superpowers. We can shoot ray beams out of our eyes that show kids we care. Conversely, if we’re distracted we can shoot ray beams out of our eyes that show them we don’t.
Roald Dahl brilliantly reminded us, “if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face and you will always look lovely.”
Demonstrating your underlying and genuine care to a child can be as simple and easy as sharing a smile. When you’re racing down the hallway on your way to some very important things, an honest smile can establish that the real “very important thing” is right in front of you, and that same smile can prompt a reciprocal smile, thereby filling an entire space with loveliness.
Parents and educators are busy people. It’s real and it’s true. In that light, I contend that it might be worthwhile to consider routine, everyday lovely-looking, every day, by way of smiling at every turn.
My experience, while arguably limited and spindly on a grand scale, tells me that just that simple act could keep us increasingly and consistently present of mind and heart, and thereby enhance the experience of the kids we serve.
Let’s be intentional about our superpowers. Let’s smile more, and if you already do…lovely!
In it together for the kids!
Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead. Thanks.