Have I ever mentioned that I cried almost every day of my first grade year? My poor sister, Margaret a 4th grader, who had to endure the long walk of shame down the hallway of the school while escorting a weeping younger sister to her classroom. The truth of the matter was that I was fine for the two weeks. Mrs. Mobley, my teacher, was kind and loving, nurturing and patient. Then one day, I was brought into a separate classroom for "evaluation." It was decided that I should go to Mrs. Mobley's room for homeroom only, changing classes to Mrs. Guy's classroom after, to a more advanced level. Nothing against Mrs. Guy, but my heart was already set with Mrs. Mobley. She taught me how to give my mother a "bear hug;" she read stories to our class in clear, inspired tones; she was pretty. Conversely, though I'm sure Mrs. Guy was a nice enough person, she was not exactly warm; she was much more disciplined and less "cozy" in her approach; and I don't know if I was swayed by her last name, but her appearance to me was slightly mannish and intimidating. It probably didn't help much that she rarely smiled. Not exactly a five year old's dream for a first teacher.
To clarify the picture, I wasn't sobbing or causing a ruckus or anything. I simply and silently cried all day on and off while quietly doing my work. The principal, Mr. Patrick, called me into his office, asking if I had a big problem I wanted to talk about or if I could tell him the cause for my sadness. I mutely shook my head, the tears streaming down my face until stumped, he released me back to the walk of shame.
The truth of the matter was this: I missed my mom. I missed my home and my morning routine. I missed Mrs. Mobley. And I didn't like change. Plain and simple.
Add to that the fact that we were raised in a time of strong-arming children, discipline reigning over quiet understanding, and there concocted a perfect recipe for a neurotic childhood lived by a sensitive soul like mine.
Today, I am raising two children, one a teen and one a tween. Drama! (I don't know how my parents survived five children - emotional girls, nonetheless!) It is my inclination many times to use discipline over understanding; strong-arming over loving inquiry; loud, shrill tones over quiet, empathetic ones. I could say that I'm an excitable Italian. I could say that I am a product of my upbringing. I could say I believe that tough love makes a kid stronger. All part truths...but none full. The fact is that sometimes I want to just say, "Get over it. This is too hard. Buck up and in the end it will make you stronger." But the truth of the matter here is it is easier sometimes to get angry than to be prayerful for a solution. So today I'm praying this prayer for my children:
"Thank you, God, for showing this child the value I truly place in their worth.
Thank You for shoring them up when we have discourse.
Thank You for opening their eyes to my humanity; my lack of perfection and my need for Your guidance as fully as they need mine.
Thank You for showing them the path to understanding and forgiveness.
Thank You for leading them to the knowledge there is always opportunity for change for the better, even when things look bleak; that prayerfully, together, we can not only get through this, but make a difference in the lives of one another.
Thank You for leading us down a path of communication.
Thank You for being with this child each step of their tumultuousness journey.
Thank You for easing their pain.
Thank You for being their loving example of parenthood."
For the record, Mr. Patrick later became my high school principal. One day during my senior year where I was a member of the Girls Service Club, Junior Civitan, secretary of the National Honor Society and member of our Honor Choir, he pulled me aside and said, "You know, you've come a long way since first grade." We grinned at each other, at our private joke. My hope and prayer is that in 10 or 15 years, my kids will say the same thing!