defining moments.

i was in my senior year of college and doing an observation in a special education high school classroom, it was a class of about ten with students who were lower functioning.  on my first day in the classroom, i had no idea what to expect.  a young man dressed in denim long shorts, a tshirt and thick glasses came running in the classroom, knocked my purse off my shoulder but didn't even notice or see me, he was looking for the teacher.  as soon as he saw her, he said, "teacher, teacher, coach said i could come and play basketball with the team if i am finished with my work!  am i finished with my work?"  the teacher looked at him with nothing but love in her eyes and said, "you are finished, go play ball."  and he ran out of that room quicker than he came in.

she looked at me without missing a beat as i was still in the doorway and said, "he's not finished with his work, but there ought to be some perks in life..."  

that was a defining moment for me.  and something i think about often.  kindness.  she was kinder to him than she had to be, and made his day.  i want to have that heart, be that kind.  i want to teach the kids that i nanny for by example to have that heart as well.  i want to teach my children to have that heart.

i just needed to get that out.  consider that a prequel to the actual post.  a commercial, perhaps.  but i promise to tie up the loose ends and bring it all back together.
just the other day, i just had one of the little fellas.  the other was at his grandmothers for a few days and sister was at a little girls day camp.  never do i get them one on one, and we had big plans.  he wanted to go to cracker barrel for breakfast and then go all tony hawk to a skate park. 
concrete + four wheels + six year old = ouch
that's what i saw, what he saw was success.  easy.  i knew it would be tough for him, humbling and take a few knocks out of that superb self esteem but i wanted him to try.  never did i let on that this was going to be hard, impossible even, we were both thrilled to have the morning.
"ms jessica, i don't think i need the elbow and knee pads, i think i will just wear the helmet." he said as soon as we got out of the car, because after all, what do i know about a skate park?  i didn't say anything, just walked with him and the closer we got, the bigger and more real, the skatepark got.  "i didn't know these parks were for such big boys."  as a olympic hopeful tripled jumped twisted i have no clue how in the world jumped right beside us.  "it'll be okay, buddy.  but let's put those elbow and knee pads on just in case."  here's where i had to give him the confidence that i could feel him loosing and assure him that he could do it.  
and i can talk something to death.  ask my friends.  he was scared.  "listen, you see those big boys (i was talking loud hoping one would skate on over to assure this little buddy), they are big.  when they were six they fell a ton.  let's go over here, no one is over here and i will help you.  i know you can do it."
and then we found a hill that seemed more possible than impossible and down he went.  he stayed on the board and didn't fall.  stars in his eyes.  
he was intimidated, but didn't feel so defeated after successes.  
and then he did it again and fell.  and fell.  hard.  
"i hate skate parks!  erase those pictures!  erase the video!  i am terrible!  i want to leave!"
and as soon as we talked and he regained control, we left.  "are you sure you don't want to try one more time?  you were doing really good."
he was ready to go.  so we left.
he cried and cried.  a hard cry, a sad cry all the way home.
and i beat it to death, for thirty minutes, "you were so good.  skating is hard.  but you did it.  you did.  i can erase the pictures and the videos, but i think when you see them you are going to be so proud of yourself.  i am proud of you for trying.  and you need to remember those big boys were little once too, and they feel a lot.  you didn't even fall that much.  i think you were awesome"  told ya.  i can wear a topic out.  

a few hours later and after i bragged to his parents in front of him how good he was, he gave me permission to keep the pictures.  and when i showed him his successes, he was proud.  but, "ms.  jessica.  i think we don't need to go back there until i am eight."

eight it is.  we'll pad those limbs and give it another go.  

one of my defining moments was when that teacher was especially kind to her student.  and maybe, just maybe, one of the kids that i have had the honor of growing and help rear, they will look back on something i said or did, and have a defining moment of their own.

life is hard, you fall, you have to get back up.  but it's always easier to get back up if you have a cheerleader in your corner.  even one that might talk to much...


Team Stinson said...

He will always remember this day and your words, Jessica. *thumbs up* -Jen

Earl-Leigh said...

I love this! You were so encouraging! My hubby's been skateboarding since childhood and still falls occasionally when attempting a new trick. I don't know if that would be a helpful tidbit though.

jessica dukes said...

i will tell him that! poor fella was so discouraged!

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