Thursday, October 26, 2017

Breaking Crayons and a Teacher's Grace


Dear Mrs. Stewart,

You came to me after school today to talk to me about Wes. You said you walked over to him and asked him some questions about the book he had just read. His response was upset and he began to break his crayon, seeming frustrated.

You did not yell at him.

You did not get angry with him.

You did not sit him in time-out in a corner of the room.

Instead, you talked with him. You asked him why he was feeling frustrated. He responded with various comments.

You responded with, “Do you feel like you have too much on you right now? Maybe you are feeling a little overwhelmed?” He replied, “Yes, just a lot of things.”

Then you stopped. You stopped what you were doing, stopped to listen to a six-year-old’s frustration. You considered his upset worthy of your attention.

By doing this, you gave him tangible empathy. You gave my child your compassion. The rest of the class was working and being a teacher, I know you had other things to do, as teachers pretty much multi-task all day long, but you let all that go so you could sit with my kid and just listen.

That isn’t even the greatest part of this whole ordeal. You didn’t leave him there. Your kindness continued when you said,  “You know what Wes? Let’s not worry about this book right now. Go ahead and put it away. I just want to pray over you.”

And then you prayed.

You prayed over my son.

In class.

At school.

With all your other students in the room.

I love you Mrs. Stewart.

Today my kid wasn’t up to doing his reading or his comprehension questions. You had a moment presented to you in which you could have chosen irritation and impatience, but no, you chose to give my child your personal time and love and then you gave him the love of his Savior.

This special moment has been saved in time as a moment of thoughtfulness and graciousness and while he might forget this moment, I can assure you, I won’t.

You, my friend, are worth far more than rubies or pearls. You are a cherished friend and a cherished teacher. May God make His glorious face shine on you.

Love,

Me, as a mom

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

My kid got called names today at school.


I teach at the school my son attends, and this year, I teach first grade, which he is also in, so I see him quite a bit at lunch and at recess and sometimes in the hallway. Today, while on break, I saw Wes walking down the hallway. He didn’t seem himself, so I asked him if he was okay. His response was to simply bury his head in my chest. I asked his teacher if I could have him for 5 minutes, she agreed. (Let me insert here how much I LOVE his teacher.) I took him to the teacher’s lounge where we continued to have a conversation.

Me: What is bothering you?
Wes: A couple kids called me 'slow' during tag today at recess and one called me a 'loser'.

Mama bear isn’t quite the picture you should envision. It’s more like, the 5 foot tall girl who suddenly feels 8 feet tall, weighing in at 270, with a blood pressure of 190/150. Like, I know I have on these expensive 3 inch heels, and I’m in a lovely, tailored pencil skirt, with my fake Kendra Scott earrings on, but I can 'mama bear' with the best of them. I (for real) don’t even care that smoke is comin’ out of my nose right now. I will handle this situation RIGHT NOW.   

I arrowed up a quick prayer.

Then I took a long, (veeeerrrrrryyyyy loooooonnnngggg) deep breath and I said, “The most important thing about this situation is…what did you do?”

Wes: I told him to stop.
Me: And then what happened?
Wes: He stopped.
Me: What a strong man you are. You stood up and told him to stop and he did. You handled it. God gave you the words to say and you used them. That is what a man of valor does.

He smiled a tiny smile, but his shoulders were still slumped.

Wes: Thanks mom.

Here’s the harder part. In all truthfulness, I need to tell you that Wes isn’t fast, at all. He actually loses most races that he runs. I mean, he will never be an Eric Liddell. I had to really think about what to say at this point. Here’s what came out.

Me: Wes, you’re not the fastest runner and that is okay. You can tell that boy, “Hey, stop it. I’m not the fastest runner, but I can still play hard.” And you can. You can play your heart out. You can. That is what you can say next time. 

Wes: Okay mom. 

Me: And also Wes, it is very important for you to forgive him. We all mess up sometimes, you and me included. You know how we talk about our own sin and how we make mistakes? We forgive each other and it is very important that we forgive others too. That is exactly what Jesus did for us.

And then while choking back my own tears, (and maybe still choking on some choice words for that kid)...

Me: And you’re not a loser. God doesn’t create losers. And I love you. A whole lot. 

Wes: Thanks mom. I love you too.

Wes went back to class.

Here’s the worst news in the world.

I CAN’T CHANGE THE OTHER KID.  (I mean, I could. I can do amazing things with some good, high blood pressure.)

Here’s the best news in the world:

I CAN TEACH MY KID.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

Blah blah blah. I don’t think James had any kids. That’s fine for me to have trials, but don’t give my kid any. OKAY???? Hey, you little kid that called my son a loser, you better not provide any trials for my kid because…ooops, okay, sorry, I’m back. Jesus. Yes, trials. Trials for my kid. Jesus allows trials. Ugh. They are SO HARD sometimes. 

I tried to re-read the passage like this:

Dear Lauren,

Count it all joy, Lauren, when Wes meets trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of his faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that Wes may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

Love, Jesus

I desperately want to raise a MAN. I want Wes to be a godly, righteous man whose faith produces steadfastness.  I want that steadfastness to have its FULL EFFECT.  I figure now is the time to learn it. Right now. Today. Sitting at the lounge table at school with his head hanging low, tears forming in his little, brown eyes.  Right now is the time to say, “God will show you how to handle this if it happens again. You can’t change him, but you can do the right thing. And if that kid ever says something ugly to someone else, you do the right thing. Learn from this. You stand up and speak up for anyone that might be on the receiving end of the “loser” comments. This is really hard right now for you, but this hard stuff will help you to stand up for others if this happens to them. Be Jesus, Wes. Be holy. Be strong. Be a warrior. Be a MAN." 



Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Read with caution.


There are some things that aren’t proper to write about and some you should certainly never post. This is one of those posts, so if you think you should stop reading here, please do so. It will not be deemed appropriate by most.

If you’ve ever had a son, I’m pretty sure you’ll “get me” on this one.

On Wednesdays, at my Christian school, the faculty meets early for devotional time. They provide childcare for our children, so my son always goes to the library to play with his friends for 15-20 minutes while I am in devotional time with my staff.  Hallelujah!

This specific Wednesday, after the ending prayer, I headed to the library to pick Wes up. As I walk in to the library, the lady taking care of the children gives me, uh huh, THE EYE. You know the one. The eye where she non-verbally lets you know she needs to talk to you. (I know this particular non-verbal communication well.) The range of feelings that come after “the look” vary, but most involve sheer terror of …“Oh great. What in the world did he do? Will we be calling a parent? Will I need to give him a spanking? (Because everyone knows I have a wooden spoon on me at all times. Like, does the sun even rise every day?)

As I follow her gaze, her eyes lure me over to a quiet place in the library where we can talk “alone”. Dear Lord in the heavenly places! What in tarnation would warrant one of the oh-so-feared QUIET talks? I mean, let’s be real, you know it must be bad when you have to CIA your way into a discreet nook of the children’s library to find out what crime your kid committed. (Insert heart pounding, labored breathing, nausea and the onset of physical panic at this moment.)

She then proceeds to tell me the following:

My 6 year old had some toy out and was swinging it around his head like a lasso as high and as wide as he could. (No shocker here. I’m still thinking this is mild play at this point.) Mrs. P. tells me that she politely heads over towards his direction to make sure there is nothing dangerous going on, which let’s be honest, danger is usually the most likely explanation. (I must thank Mrs. P. at this point. She is wasting no time trying to save other children from any madness that might go down in the near future. Thank you Mrs. P.!) At this time of the story, she changes her face a bit as she begins the next statement. I see a slight crease in her mouth as if she is actually hiding a smile and maybe even a few small giggles. Hmmmm, I’m not quite sure how to respond, so my expression stays anxious. She continues and says that she kindly asks Wes, “What ya got there?”

Here’s where we hit the tripwire. 

He replies, “Oh it’s just a tampon.”

WHAT???????????????????

Oh yes. That is exactly what he said. And that is exactly what he had.

She asked him where he got it and he continued to tell her how he found one wrapped up in my bathroom, so he just tore it open and silently put it in his pocket, so he could play with his “whip” in the library today since we had devotions.

For. The. Love.

If there was one thing in the world I assumed would NOT be used for a weapon…but nope. Not a chance Lauren. Not a chance.  It is an innate genius with boys. They all have this implausible flair for making every single item they unearth into some piece of destruction. Today, it was my tampon.

And that was our Wednesday. Here’s to you and yours!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Kids Don’t Believe in Coincidences


Kids don’t believe in coincidences and I have to admit, I love that about them. The Bible talks about having a “child-like” faith. I am in a room with sixteen 6 year-olds for 8 hours every day and I can tell you right now that I understand why God said that. They don’t believe in coincidences. Coincidences don’t exist when it comes to children and their God. They wholeheartedly believe in their prayers and in God’s ability to answer those prayers. 

Today was the first field trip of the year. Woohoo! Field trips are when some of the best memories are made in school! Bus rides, sweaty, red-faced children, picnics and parents. It is always a fun day! We were signed up to go to Mainstay Farms in Cleburne, TX, about an hour away.
As teachers, we were keeping a watch on the weather. The forecast kept calling for scattered rain/mist on our field trip today, so yesterday at school, we prayed out loud as a class and asked God to keep the rain away until after our field trip. This morning on my drive to school, all I saw were gloomy clouds swelling around above us. When I walked in, the kids began asking, “What if it rains? What will we do? Can we still go?” We stopped and before getting on the bus, we prayed again. Well…what do you know… the rain stopped. The dark clouds spread and the sun shined down on us and even better, a group of white clouds moved in to give us some nice, cool, shade.

Some adults (me included at times) might pawn this off and assume it was just “by chance” that it quit raining, but not my first graders. For them, it was certainly because we prayed. They wholeheartedly believe that the Lord took His hands and held that rain back until the end of the day so that we could enjoy time in His creation on the farm. That's it. It's that simple for them. We prayed and God answered "yes" to our request. They know it. The end. I’m pretty sure God smiles down on my little people quite regularly for their faith.

While I am their teacher and I do hope and pray they learn from me, God often reminds me to learn from them…Today I’m going to know and believe that God heard our prayers and did indeed, stop the rain for us.

A BB Up the Nose

Me: Why is your finger so high up in your nose? Wes: I put a bb in there. Me: Wait. What? What do you mean ...