Every year I am their teacher I learn more about what I don't know.
This is what I learned I didn't know this year:
- I didn't know I had a pre-teen on my hands yet. And how much I love that. Last night she crawled into bed with me for one of our very favourite things: chats in the dark while holding hands. The more I tried to answer her questions, the more I was aware the answers were for me, too. We talked about how to approach God, especially when we don't totally understand Him. We came to a conclusion: that if God is who He says He is, the highest thing we can do for Him is enjoy how much He loves us. Without carrying around check-lists of what we have to do for Him. I am really excited about the questions she will keep asking for the next ten years.
- I didn't know how powerful shame was until I saw my kids balk it again and again with a confidence I still don't possess. They stick up for their friends, to their friends and then for themselves. And even though they feel really scared, they do it with shaky voices and trembly knees. Because I told them they can. And they actually believe me. I got a letter from a mama who told me something my daughter did totally unbeknownst to me this year. It made me cry. (You better believe I saved that one forever. Mama feedback is as rare as the Hope Diamond.) I saw my son do that today for his Buddy. He stuck up for his heart and, once again, I was inspired to be brave like an eight year old boy and going on sixteen year old girl : ) myself.
- They trust their intuition. If something doesn't feel right, taste right, or looks scary, they are outta here. I should be so smart.
- They love play, laughter, creating, noise, movement, experimenting, asking questions (loudly to be heard, if need be), not settling, encouraging others, stating their needs and learning vivaciously without apology. They live wholeheartedly. I want that.
- I learned that the body has twelve systems and that all of them are incredible. I learned (again) how fragile the body also is and how powerful a circle of community can be around that.
- I learned astonishing details about geography and how AMAZING the world, shells, rocks and countries are in ways I'd never noticed before.
- I learned that a seven year old, two eight year olds and a nine year old can write and recite poetry that can make you cry. That they can speak to Romans centuries ago with wisdom, they can represent inventors and harness brand new concepts in words, they can capture emotion, beauty, colour and time - all in ways that grown ups can't. It's humbling.
- And I learned about courage. About fearlessness in the face of hurt, vulnerability, newness, sadness, change and loss. Kids are not resilient, kids are passionate. And that passion - not yet dulled - gives them courage to stand up, stand their ground and get back on the horse again. They are not grudge holders, badge wearers or independent souls yet. I'm not being idealistic - they can be a lot of other things, even when they aren't yet tired - but one thing I love most is their courage. That combined with empathy is truly world changing.
Even if their world is only as big as me still.
I have been changed.
Happy Last Day of School and First Day of Summer!