Most of the time you can find me aimlessly wandering around my house, picking up random nerf gun darts, barbie shoes and empty capri suns. I’ll be mumbling under my breath about how everyone in the house is spoiled and ungrateful. Occasionally, I’ll go on a psychopathic rage and yell at my darling children because, “why can’t they just pick up their toys already??!” You might also find me standing in the kitchen, lovingly mixing ingredients together making a dinner that our kids will most likely fake-vomit in their mouths with each bite. I can be a bit of a busy body and because of said busyness, I rarely get to sit down and just listen to my kids. And I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about that lately. I mean, the entire reason I loved being a teacher was because I love hearing a kid’s spin on things. I couldn’t wait for my own babies to begin talking so I could laugh and enjoy all the adorable misuse of words and baby babble. I’ve decided that kids know exactly how to fix all that is wrong in this Kardashian loving/killing each other because of differences/Trump-and-Hilary-are-seriously-our-candidates world.
Let me go ahead and put this out here first. My kids are not spouting off philosophical ideology or making a plan for world peace. They are just ordinary kiddos who happen to have extremely profound ideas about life in the most innocent of circumstances. (and as a side note, just so there’s no question of if they’re brilliant or anything. No worries. Just last night my youngest saw a glimpse of his back side in the mirror while bending over after getting out of the shower and declared, “MOM!! There is a hole in my butt!! This is GREAT!” and ran off laughing hysterically. Naked as a jay bird.) But seriously, the events in Dallas, Orlando and countless other places across our once great nation have caused me to pay more attention to my surroundings. Not to look for the bad, but rather look for the good…the innocent. I guess since kids are kind of my profession I have an advantage over others. I know that if you want to see goodness in this world, you need only go to your local playground and observe. So, I’ve been doing just that. I’ve been listening to my own kids. I’ve been watching as they play with other, random children at the playground. And I’ve been deeply moved by their behavior. I have been thinking about what Jesus said in Matthew 18: 2-4. “He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.” I’v always assumed Jesus was referring to the faith of a child but the longer I live in this world, I’m convinced it could be in all areas of our lives.
Just tonight my own children moved my spirit and touched my hurting heart. Earlier today I was painting the foyer and my youngest wanted to help. After arguing about why he couldn’t paint I was irritated and truthfully just wanted him to go upstairs and play. He, being the five year old he is, wanted to hang out with me though. He kept saying, “mom, watch this.” and “mom, wanna hear a joke?” I was only about half way paying attention and then he tugged at my heartstrings. He wanted to climb up the wall (thanks inventor of Spiderman. I don’t like clean walls anyway.) and then do a flip. I was telling him he couldn’t do that because it was dangerous and he would fall. Without missing a beat and with all the confidence in the world says, “I can do it mom. I’m awesome. I can do anything.” Wow buddy. You know what? You’re right. You.are.awesome. I wonder at what point adults lost their ability to believe in themselves. To believe that we are amazing? And even more, to believe others are amazing. Point taken, kid.
Then later in the day, I got an email with news I didn’t really want to hear. It wasn’t meant to be discouraging but it was. I have been trying to get a job in my field but outside the classroom and it hasn’t worked out the way I had hoped. It’s been discouraging and has made me question my own self-worth. My oldest noticed my mood was kind of glum and asked me what was wrong. At first I told him it was nothing but he insisted that I spill it. So, because I like awkward words better than awkward silence I told him the truth. I told him I was disappointed that I hadn’t gotten a job yet. And then, because I felt the weird need to add to the awkwardness, told him I was a “pretty good teacher” so I didn’t really understand. He pats my arm and speaks with wisdom far beyond his 10 years. He said, “mom, I think God wants you to be a stay-at-home mom. You’ve prayed about it and it’s just not happening. You are a good teacher but he’s an even better one. (as he points to Heaven).” Shew. Cue the orchestra music and grab your hankie. I still get misty-eyed thinking about that precious boy and the way the Lord used him to speak to me. Teach me o’Lord and help me to be a good student.
When we got home my daughter and niece were playing upstairs and I could hear them debating over whether or not to go into the playroom. My niece was afraid because she heard a noise and my daughter (who, mind you, is usually the one peeing her pants over every little noise) said to her, “Abby. We don’t have to be afraid to go in there. Jesus is with us and he won’t let anything bad happen to us. You know that.” My niece simply says, “oh yea. That’s right.” and they go about their business. What the whaaat?? Just imagine if us silly old adults would remember that there is no need to be afraid. We can go after our heart’s desire because God is right there with us, we need only believe.
I can’t let this blog go without talking about some of my children who didn’t actually live in my womb. With all the current events, I’ve been thinking alot about my first two years of teaching and the students who were my “babies” before I had babies of my own. I taught in an inner city school in Alabama. My teaching partner and I were the minority in the building and we learned more about life in those two years than I suspect most people with “normal” jobs ever learn. The children were from home situations that would make grown men cry. They came to school not to learn but to be loved. My friend Dede and I would drive after school into horrible parts of town and pick up our beloved babies to take them to church..or skating..or McDonald’s. It didn’t matter where we took them, they wanted to be with us and we wanted to love and protect them. They never saw the color of our skin. They saw a lap to sit in, an adult who loved them and a shoulder to cry on. We never saw the color of their skin. We saw children who were wildly funny, brilliantly creative and in dire need of love and affection. You could say it was a match made in Heaven. One child in particular was close to our hearts. Her name was Shaniya. One day she stayed after school with Dede and I and she took notice of our skin color. She asked if we were sisters and we told her no. She said, “but you are both white so I thought you must be sisters.” We laughed because it was adorable and told her that we weren’t sisters. After studying us a minute (which is a big deal when you are in kindergarten) she finally says, “Yep, you aren’t sisters. Mrs. McCluey you are light white and Mrs. Rose you are dark white.” She takes a big breath and says, “I still want you guys to be in my Princess Club because you love me and I love you guys.” Her little five year old heart had embraced what some callus adults have forgotten. It’s not the color of the skin but the contents of the heart that matter.
God bless the little children and God bless America. And Lord, help us to just stop and take notes every now and then.