“I don’t like noodles Auntie Elle.”
“We are AT Noodles and Company buddy, what did you think that they made here?”
“I don’t know.”
“Noodles. That’s what they make here.”
“So what do you think you’d like to get then?”
Looking up at the menu board for a long time, my nephew studied the pictured options, finally resting on something near the bottom and pointing to it.
“Yeah, I like garlic bread.”
“Do you want something with your garlic bread like soup or a salad or something? I feel like garlic bread isn’t really a meal.”
Looking for another length of time, he pointed once more.
“Pineapple … you want pineapple with your garlic bread.”
“Not buttered noodles or chicken or veggies.”
“Well alright … garlic bread and pineapple it is.”
“And I’ll have six pieces instead of three so it’s more.”
“It’s more alright buddy, but okay, six it is.”
This was the conversation I had with my eight-year-old nephew when I was watching him and his brother and sister for a week this summer. Going from a mother of two to five had its challenges, but honestly, even on the worst day (like that one, where we were stuck in the dentist’s office for two hours and my daughter had a cavity for the first time and a major meltdown because she had a cavity for the first time) conversations like this happen, and then it is all okay.
I struggle with people who say they don’t like kids. What’s not to like? As a teacher and mother, I feel that little people are the absolute best kind of people – my kind. I find even more that adults that I truly enjoy are so enjoyable because I can still see the kid in them, and that is my favorite part.
Yesterday my son held the door open for me and said, “Hey mom … how old do you think you’ll be when you go to live in one of those nursery homes?” It took every ounce of my kegal-exercised-control not to pee my pants laughing. I told him that I figured somewhere in my eighties, but that he could help me make the decision based on how I was doing upstairs. God bless him.
I love the quote from Kent Nerburn that says, “Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance and none can say why some fields will blossom while others lay brown beneath the August sun.” The thing is, I really believe that no child should ever be a child of chance. We have schools, we have teachers, and principals and aides and volunteers and absolutely NO excuse. By God it is our job to LOVE them, not to like or to tolerate, but to love. I might be stepping out here, but I would go so far as to argue that if you as a teacher do not love the students God puts in your way, you are no longer called to teach.
The last days of my summer are ebbing to a close, and as melancholy as I feel about the quickly fading fireflies and the earlier approaching mornings … I am still excited. I’ve bought new lantern globes, pencil toppers, and name plates. I’ve begun moving desks and replenishing marker supplies. I got new fringe rugs and about two-hundred colored paperclips divided according to shade because those are necessary to the balance of my room of course! I can’t help it. I am a kid person, because I am very much in touch with the kid in me, and I let her voice dictate a great deal of my adult decisions because she is still right.
Children (even naughty ones, God love them … they’re the most fun) are the best kind of people, and it takes nothing to make them happy. Frederick Douglass once said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” I pray this year, as the academic turn comes once again, that everyone will remember this quote and take the time to love a kid just by giving them five uninterrupted minutes of your time.
Even if they talk about Pokemon.
Or knock-knock jokes.
Or guess my number.
Or why questions.
Or foods they hate.
Or foods they love.
Whatever it is … give them time.
You never know, by doing so, we just might be healing humanity one garlic bread and pineapple dinner at a time.
Please share your favorite kid quote with me. I’d love to giggle along.