ALL ABOUT LIFE BEYOND KINDERGARTEN! Kindergarten is the basic building block for all future learning. It is true that everything you need to know in life was really learned in Kindergarten. The trick is to remember what you learned when you were five or six. What you liked then will most likely be something you will like now. So be true to yourself and who you really are and who you will really be. Look back and you just may find your true self! Yes…this blog is about a variety of topics…because we are all a smorgasbord of thoughts and ideas.
It was just a night out to have dinner at a small pizza and pasta restaurant. Last Saturday night…the night we met a particularly friendly waitress. The waitress we won’t soon forget.
We walked inside from the unusually cold Texas night. The warm atmosphere was immediate. Pretty linen tablecloths. A man playing the piano…beautifully playing Broadway tunes, current songs, jazz. Soft lights. Quiet conversations at several tables. This is not the normal pizza place. We felt like we were invited into someone’s home.
After we were seated, our waitress came over to get our drink order. So outgoing. A beautiful smile. Young. Perhaps in her very early twenties. Friendly and confident. Efficient. She even brought us an extra plate so we could share the salad…just because the salad was large. She thought that we might want to both have a salad with our dinner. Thoughtful.
I remember thinking that she seemed especially mature for her age. Probably a college student making extra money. Parents who brought her up correctly…as if anyone really knows the correct way to raise a child.
We soon found out that her parents were far from good parents. As we were about to pay for our dinner, she looked towards the door. “Oh look! It’s my husband’s dad and brother! I love it when my family comes here for dinner!”
When she brought our receipt back, she apologized for getting so excited about someone coming in who we didn’t even know. She went on to explain that her husband’s family was all the family she had. She truly thought that her husband’s family was wonderful. Her own family was in another city, but she didn’t see them anymore.
She didn’t intend to see them until they got their act together. She doubted that they ever would make it. She told us that her family is seriously into dangerous drugs. She said that their lifestyle is not the lifestyle that she wanted. She had practically raised herself.
Without good teachers, she could not imagine where she would be. Eventually she left home…to make it on her own. She soon met her husband and was recently married. Her family did not even know about the pretty wedding. She was going to college and working at the restaurant in the evenings.
Once she started talking, she told us the entire story. She said that she could have been sad. She said that she could have been totally lost. She said that she had faith and that she knew that she was on the right path. She was planning to be a teacher and help someone else make something special of themselves.
What a heartfelt story. A story with such a positive outcome. A story that made us smile for this ambitious young woman who grew up to be so very resilient. Not an ounce of forlornness surrounding our waitress on Saturday night.
Congratulations to a future teacher. She will probably change many lives!
As I have written before, we lost our son in a very sad car accident in October, 2004. To say that it was totally heartbreaking is an underestimate. I knew that we needed to get back to our regular routine as soon as possible. So…we found our strength and found our way back to our familiar life. We focused on our careers, our friends and our daughter who was then a college student.
Crowfoot, a chief of the Siksika First Nation.
I loved teaching school and found incredible joy in getting to know the children and their families. I knew that I would feel much better when I saw those smiling children. And I did! My elementary school at the time was like a “windows on the world”…so many cultures and so many languages. There were many Vietnamese families in the area surrounding the school…wonderful families with a clear focus on giving their children the chance for a bright future through education. The year that we lost our son was my first year to teach third grade… after teaching Kindergarten for several years.
Fireflies streaking through a gorge near the foothills.
Little did I realize how a child in my Third Grade class would give me the hope that comes from understanding the meaning of loss. One of my students had moved from Vietnam just three short weeks before school started. She only knew a few words of English… “hello, goodbye, friend, thank you”. Eager to learn and always kind, she smiled continuously and listened to every word that was uttered in class. She was paired with two older students for thirty minutes or so a day for English tutoring. I learned that peer assistance in any language development is the real key.
Walking among the fireflies.
By Christmas, the young child was virtually fluent in English…a miracle to me and a testament to her work ethic. On the state test in the Spring, her score on the reading part was one of the highest of all the students. During that time, she started reading many types of poetry and enjoyed looking up special topics in the library.
A garden of fireflies.
One sunny Spring day, she quietly placed a paper on my desk during morning announcements. It was a poem that she evidently found in the library. She had added an illustration with her handwriting. As she walked away from my desk, she said…
“Mrs. Davis, I know that you must be still sad about your son. I think that these words will help you!”
To the very smart and very perceptive little girl from Vietnam…now a grown up young woman…”The words you found are still giving me happiness and peace today. Thank you!”
The paper that my young student from Vietnam gave me that sunny Spring day…