Being a former teacher, one of my “most-inspiring-hall-of-famers” is Annie Sullivan, teacher of Helen Keller. I love her because she took a child who had been labelled as “unable to be educated” and actually did just that – educated her to go on to be one of the world’s most brilliant minds despite the fact that she could neither see nor hear. That aside, Annie Sullivan used real-world examples and context to teach little Helen so that it was meaningful instead of relying on the drill and kill method that is so often utilized in this obsessively mandated test-taking world of No Child Left Behind (whoa, let me get on my soap box for a minute…). My favorite scene of “The Miracle Worker” is when Annie takes Helen to the water pump, runs water over her hands and signs the word “water” directly into her palm. I love the lightbulb that goes off for Helen as she frantically runs around her lawn touching everything and holding out her hand for Annie to sign the word for her. Right before I stopped working outside of the home, I worked as a literacy trainer for an organization that used this clip to inspire teachers to be like Annie so of course, I have seen this part several times and think of it often. So the other day I was dangling Bubba Boo over our kitchen sink in an attempt to wash his “crawler” hands – as a little one who crawls, he picks up stuff off of our floors (yes, I sweep every day but we do have a dog and two children) and it makes my skin curl to think he would eat with those grubby paws, hence why I wash my baby’s hands. As the water poured over his chubby little digits, I said “water” and his little face beamed and flashed the dimple that melted even the nurses’ hearts in the hospital within an hour after his birth (for the record, Classic Old Spice has this trait as well and is one of the reasons why I knew I would marry him within a week after we met). He seemed to be saying “Cool mommy – I am getting this word thing – I am getting that everything has a label,” and I immediately thought of Annie and Helen at the pump. This then led me to reflect on what exactly I do want to teach my children as well as HOW on earth am I going to do it…A few things popped into my head: There is no canned program, method, or theory that can educate your child more effectively than your actions. For this reason, I make sure that my children see that I am indeed human. I speak about my emotions freely, in fact, almost to a fault for just the other night as I was helping at Missy Moo’s Book Fair at her school she said, “Mommy, are you feeling grouchy?” which I think is quite observant for a girl who just turned three (never mind the fact that she said it right in front of her teacher…For shame!). I lose my cool and say things that make me feel like I am going to suffer in the parenting pit of hell and worry that I have permanently psychologically damaged my children for the rest of time; however, I know that the right thing to do is say that I am sorry and admit that mommy was wrong. As a result, Missy Moo freely apologizes (usually) when she knows she owes one. In no way am I suggesting that I am “Parent of the Year” because of course, there is a down-side to this as well. Recently, Missy Moo started to say things like “I hate my coat” or “I hate to eat carrots” which for some reason, sounds really harsh and rough when it comes out of the mouths of babes. I was bothered by where on earth she could have picked this up until later in the day when I caught myself saying “Oh, I HATE when that happens!”. You guessed it – Missy Moo picked this lovely trait up from me. This is not the only time that I will err at the parenting game but I also think that maybe when children see their parents mess up we are better preparing them for the real world in which they will be living (or maybe I am telling myself this so I feel just a little better). The world is not perfect and neither are we – we have good days, and days that are almost comical they are so bad. There are people who will wrong you, as we recently experienced as a family when a former sitter who owed us some money told us she would be at our home “in a half an hour” and was actually in Iowa (true story), people who will put you down and make you feel like you are less than you are, and there are times when an hour feels like the longest period of time on earth. But on the other hand, there are more people who will right you, more people who will build you up, and days when you think an hour is just not enough time to do anything because it goes so fast. A moral compass cannot be changed or rocked in any way – regardless of the trials and tribulations one experiences, that core, that foundation should remain the compass and drive who we really are. No outside occurance can shake this or take it away from you as it is your soul which was molded in your early years and is constantly shaped throughout your life. I remember telling the parents of the students in my classroom that they are their child’s first teacher but I never really understood the power and magnitude of this statement until I had my own babies. Emotional core development occurs between the ages of zero to three years old so how can any teacher mold this part of my children? It’s up to us to guide this development which is probably going to be my most valuable contribution to this planet after I am gone. To know that Classic Old Spice and I will work fervently to encourage our children to always do what is right makes me believe that it will sink in along the way somewhere and then when THEY have their own babes, they will do the same. It is how the cycle continues and the only way that I can foresee to truly leave the world a little bit better than how I found it. Life experiences take us back to the pump every time and force us to continue to mold who exactly we are and who we strive to be.
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