What I Learn from Children

Update: I recently wrote a guest post for my friend Rebecca at Rebecca in the Woods. The post is titled Lizards in Europe.  Check it out, and make sure to read about some of Rebecca’s adventures in northern Wisconsin.  My favorites are always the posts about squirrels and mushrooms. 

Let me tell you about Andy and Samantha.*

I knocked on their door yesterday evening and told their mom about the plan we’re supporting to restore the health of the lake and the river.  She was a supporter and wanted to make a donation.  She told Andy to finish eating his supper, but Andy was too interested in the visitor at the door to think about eating.  While the mom went to get her checkbook, I chatted with Andy and Samantha.
Andy is in the fifth grade, and he likes his teacher.  He is a friendly boy, but his speech is a little difficult to understand.  I believe that he has a developmental disorder.

Samantha is in the eighth grade and has fourteen teachers because she has an alternating schedule.  I only had eight teachers when I was her age, and I still found middle school overwhelming.

When their mom reappeared, she said matter-of-factly, “Andy, the dog ate your food.  It’s all gone.”

The shock and dismay on Andy’s face was priceless, but he took the turn of events in stride.  I felt bad that I had enabled the dog to commit his crime.

I told the family about the importance of writing letters and encouraged everyone to get involved.  The mom was too busy, but Samantha piped up.  “I can do it.”

“Do you have time?” her mom asked.

“Yes.  We can write them,” she affirmed.  Andy nodded his head.

We agreed that they would tuck their letters under the door mat.

Before I left, Andy wanted to know my name and made sure that he introduced himself, his sister, and his mom.  Then he spread his arms wide and enveloped me in a hug.

I thanked him and told him that made my day better.

At the end of the night, I had to walk an extra half mile to pick up their letters, but I knew that they would be waiting for me under the mat.  Samantha had written two articulate letters and had helped Andy to sign one.

When a stranger appeared at his door, Andy literally welcomed me with open arms.  He was curious and receptive to what I was doing.  Samantha was enthusiastic about getting involved.  She saw a way to make a difference and took action.

My heart had a warm squishy feeling as I walked away from their house.  I read their letters with my flashlight as I walked and somehow managed not to trip.

We all have the potential to be like Andy and Samantha (and their mom deserves a lot of credit for nurturing them and helping them become such awesome kids).  They remind me to greet each stranger and enter each new situation without judgment.  With every interaction, we can seek the goodness in others.  And when offered an opportunity to make a difference, we can seize it.

*Andy and Samantha are not their real names

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