Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Healing at home

My kids' preschool teacher, Miss Amelia, is the kind of mom dreams are made of. She has 4 kids ranging in age from 2 to 10, all of whom are being homeschooled and come with her when she teaches two mornings a week. She lives 2 hrs away in the country but somehow manages to get herself and 4 kids ready and make the drive to school to receive her class of 8 preschoolers at 9:30am on the dot. She is never late. Her 4 kids always have creative, healthy, homemade lunches. They are intelligent, respectful, cooperative, helpful...miraculous. Her 10 year old daughter oozes patience and sweetness and wisdom beyond her years. One morning, my 4 yr old son got out of the car and immediately started wailing because he had forgotten to bring anything for show and tell. My systolic pressure shot up by about 20 points as I tried to figure out how I could end this scene without driving all 3 kids back home to retrieve a dinosaur from our living room. Meanwhile, the 10 year old sweetly said, "I'm sure we have something in our class treasure box you could use for show and tell. Would you like to look in the treasure box? Ok, it will be our secret, but only if you stop crying..." As he wiped his eyes and wandered off with her, walking on a cloud, I stared in amazement. She is her mother's daughter.

A few days later, I decided to take stock of how I was doing as a mom by sitting back and observing my own kids' behavior. Unfortunately, in the span of an afternoon, I heard my 5 yr old son telling my 3 yr old daughter, "I am closing my eyes and counting to 10. If ALL of those toys I just cleaned up aren't back in the toy box again when I open my eyes, we are not going to California next month..." or worse, my 3 yr old telling her teddy bear, "No, I can't play right now. The house is a mess, and I am busy!" with a familiar tone of irritation. Yikes! I think this reap what you sow business is the real deal.

This past weekend, I came down with a terrible cold. My kids had a friends' birthday party to attend. They had been looking forward to it all week. As I sat there coughing and feverish on the couch, I had to tell them I couldn't take them to the party because I didn't want to get all of the party guests sick. I braced myself and prepared for the fallout--here come the tantrums, I thought. They looked at each other, then walked out of the room silently. Two minutes later, they reappeared. My 5 yr old son was lugging a huge flannel quilt and a cup of water, and my 3 yr old daughter came bearing her favorite stuffed animal and her blankie. Together they worked, their tiny faces concerned but reassuring, their body language unhurried, gentle, and kind, to wrap me in the king-size quilt. My daughter put her bear and her blankie under my chin, and my son pulled the coffee table a little closer so that I could reach the cup of water without having to get up. Then before going off to play quietly with her brother, my daughter kissed my hot forehead and said, "Shhhh, I love you. You'll feel better soon."

And she was right. I did feel better. For all my shortcomings as a mother, and there are many, I am teaching my kids by example to be healers, at work and at home. For that, I am grateful.


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