One of my favorite books is The Secret Garden. Not necessarily a light, uplifting children’s novel (it does begin with the death of the protagonist’s parents), but it’s an engaging story about finding beauty in your (sometimes dreary) surroundings, making the most of change, and being thrown into a new environment and finding a better self. The young heroine becomes a better person (less selfish, more understanding, less whiny, and more bold) by her change in circumstances that she could never have predicted.
I’ve been given a chance to become a better person. The day before school started for my children, I was called into the school office for a job interview. I walked out two hours later having accepted the position of the first grade aide: a job I wasn’t exactly qualified for, but one that would allow me the same hours as my kids and even give me the chance to work in my son’s classroom. Through circumstances I can only call Divine, I was given a job that I had been looking for (knowing it was time to “get back in there”), delivered in a package that I could have never expected.
And oh, how it has changed me. The school year has only been four weeks, but look what happened to the Secret Garden in one season: it blossomed. I have always had high respect for teachers, I just never wanted to be one. I sent my children to school, expected them to be well-behaved, have fun, and come home having learned something. I didn’t think much of what happened in the in-between times. Now that I have first hand knowledge of what is happening, my respect-o-meter for teachers is off the chart. One friend said that a teacher makes up to 20,000 decisions a day. That may be an over exaggerated number, but I’m sure it’s close. There is not a moment in the time that I am there that a child is not asking her for something: attention, discipline, love, more love. And the two teachers I work under always give it. It’s amazing! I am in awe that they aren’t huddled in a corner rocking themselves because they are needed too much. It’s not how they see it. They believe they are CALLED to be there, it’s not their profession. They approach each day ready to form these kids, impart knowledge, direct their paths, and love on them.
And how does that make me a better person? I get to witness it, first-hand. I get to see what authentic compassion and unconditional love looks like. And then I have the chance to turn around and try it myself. Instead of telling a child the answer, I am learning to bring it out in them. Instead of being quick to anger, I am learning self-control and loving restraint. Instead of choosing favorites, I am realizing that every child wants to love and be loved. I am a “rough around the edges” kind of gal, and I am learning to soften a bit, to bend down and listen, and that a pat on the head might mean a better day.
This “back-to-work” thing has put a cramp in my traveling, but for now I will learn what I can, and I will bloom where I am planted.