Last week, in the final quarter of the year, one of my 3rd graders caught me eating a few chips. (I was trying not to be noticed as it was about 20 minutes before lunch). She came over and said to me, “Do you know what you remind me of?” Holding my breath slightly I answered that no, I didn’t know. 3rd graders don’t do a lot of filtering, they can be quite bluntly honest and I wasn’t sure I was prepared for whatever she might have to tell me.
She said, “You remind me of the beginning of the year when I got hurt at recess. You told me to sit beside you and you gave me chips.”
This happened months ago, pretty much as she’s described it. She got hurt at recess. She was quite upset. I didn’t think she was hurt too badly and I prefer not to send kids to the clinic if they don’t really need something. So I often have kids sit with me and take a little break. I give them some attention and love and usually that’s enough to heal the hurt.
This one, at least in my estimation early on, was one who can be a tad dramatic. A bit like I was at her age and a bit like my own daughters can be. I thought she might need a little more than the standard care. I had chips with me as I had rushed through lunch so I shared them with her. I don’t usually have chips so I didn’t figure I was setting too big a precedent (I don’t like to share my chips, they are a great treat).
It was astounding to me that she remembers this from at least six months ago. I wouldn’t have recalled it without her prompting. It was a reminder to me of how much the small things we do make such a difference. Those small things might be kindnesses or they might be slights. Either way, they are impacting kids.
We need to be far more aware than we normally are about the language we choose, the tone we use, and our body language. Typically we aren’t hyper aware of these things and it works out fine. But with the children in our care we must be. They are. They notice what we say. They notice how we say it. They notice so much of what we are telling them that we miss. We need to be aware. We need to be thoughtful. We need to sure that ALL the messages we send children say that we care for them, that we believe in them, and that they mater.