“One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: ‘Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.’ After laying hands on them, he left.” Matthew 19:13-15 (The Message)
Our youngest loves his teacher. He was blessed last year to have two wonderful preschool teachers and this year he is blessed to have an incredible kindergarten teacher. I’ve seen her in action and yes, she is amazing. If he has to be away from me for eight hours a day, I want him to be with her. She is loving, kind, has endless patience, and makes the day fun. She has helped our five-year-old blossom at school into the fun loving, humorous, creative boy that we see at home.
A couple of months ago she was gone for two days and he had a substitute. We prepared him ahead of time and so when I went and picked him up, I asked how she was, fully expecting to hear great things. His response, “She yelled…a lot.” I asked him why she was yelling and his response was, “Because kids kept making bad choices.”
Now, whether or not she really did yell a lot or just occasionally, whether she had “angry eyes” or just used a level of voice above a whisper, I don’t know. The point I’m making is this: Kids notice. Our littlest has never once come home and said his regular teacher yells. Not once. So, whether she has yelled and he doesn’t notice or pay attention because of how she keeps his emotional love tank filled or maybe she is truly gifted and really doesn’t yell at all.
It got me thinking about how he would describe me. Would he describe me as the teacher he adores? Or would he describe me as his substitute – “she yelled…a lot.” I’m thinking I wouldn’t pass the test.
Kids notice. They know when we’re being fake and they know when we’re genuine. They know when we pass along superficial compliments and they know when we’re authentically interested in their lives, their passions, their hobbies. They are more apt to give grace when we have consistently filled their love tanks than when we barely deposit anything.
I have a choice to make. I can choose to be more like Jesus, who filled love tanks wherever He went and left people in a better condition than when He first met them. Or I can rush around, spending my energy on things that don’t matter and don’t last, living with regrets and having to always fix relationships instead of investing in them ahead of time so that when stress comes, people’s response to me is with grace.
I’m glad our youngest had a substitute teacher a few months ago and I’m glad God cared enough about my family to ask me to “Fast yelling.” It got me thinking about which type of person I want to be. I’m making my choice…because kids notice and I want mine to look back on their childhood as having had full love tanks, not she “yelled…a lot.”
© Cheri Swalwell 2014