Last Friday, amidst sunshine and soft breezes, I spent the afternoon with my daughter. This is a rarity because she is teacher and also has two little ones. Our one-on-one time together is limited. Unfortunately, a health situation kept her out of school, but we did manage to dine al fresco for lunch before visiting the doctor. We also stole a few minutes to purchase mums and some fall decorations for the front of her home.
Our stolen hours went by quickly and I decided to accompany Rose to pick up Patrick and Shannon from school. This is truly one of the perks of retirement. Seeing their happy faces emerge from the building brightens my day. Of course, they were excited to see the happy scarecrow and other decorations in the car. I had to laugh when Patrick asked his mother, “Why did you buy a scarecrow? We don’t have any crows!”
We arranged the outside decorations and then went inside. Shannon helped her mom decorate the bay window with pumpkins and other paraphenalia, but Patrick sat down at the kitchen table and got right to work. A few minutes later, he proudly displayed his drawing of a Jack-O-Lantern. It was very well done. Clearly, he didn’t get his artistic ability from me! I suggested that I take it home and frame it with a black mat. Patrick was all for the idea. That matting just made the picture pop and I knew when I returned the finished picture, Patrick would feel an extra sense of pride. I knew also that by honoring his creation, I would encourage both his interest and confidence in drawing.
This situation reminded me of when I ran a Writing Workshop in my classroom. The best part was always “publication”. Students knew they would have a chance to share their finished product in some way. Often, I had a celebration at the end of the month and invited parents and administrators to stop by, listen to students share their writings, and enjoy a snack. Those days are some of my fondest memories. It was easy to recognize the impact the positive attention had on my students. Smiling and inspired to write more, they left the class on a high note.
Everyone needs affirmation. Often, we are so caught up in showing kids how to improve that we forget to notice and celebrate growth. Tomorrow is International Peace Day. I’m wondering if more affirmation, less criticism, more celebration, less complaining can impact peace in our families, communities, country and world. It’s worth a try. Don’t you agree?