Saturday, December 27, 2008

Santa Clause

One of my favorite things about kindergarten was hearing kids talk about Santa Clause. Some thought he wasn't real. Others were certain of his authenticity. Hearing them try to convince each other showed great thought in persuasion and faith in their own views.
I remember when our oldest son (about age 5 or 6) had a serious conversation with his dad about Santa Claus. Ben's Dad explained that seeing the joy on each child's face was so wondrful that parent's sgould get to share in the enjoyment. So parent's help Santa on Christmas Eve. He also pointed out that he could see that joy if he didn't tell his younger sisters.
About this time I overheard a discouraged young mother in the halls at church. She said dejectedly to an older, more experienced mother, "I'm a failure as a mother. All my preschool son thinks about is what he is getting for Christmas. He doesn't even think about giving." The more experienced mother said something I'll always remember. She said, "Don't you think one must experience the magic of what he is getting for Christmas first? Then he can imagine the joy someone else feels when they receive a gift."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Crystal's figurine

This is a picture of Crystal's figurine. To read more about how I got it read the previous blog.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Crystal was a student in my first kindergarten class when I began my career as a professional teacher. She wore only thin cotton dressses to school. In addition, she wore high-top athletic shoes, but never any socks. It was obvious she came from a family where not much money was available. One day she came to school limping and had big blisters on her feet. I explained to her that if she wore socks with her shoes she would not get blisters. The next day she came to school wearing some new pink nylon with white lace around the top. She explained to me that they were her Christmas present but her Mom said she could wear hem early. Crystal had a "no-nonense" way of just taking care of things.
As Christmas neared, Crystal came to school excited about a hole in her mouth and a whole dollar from the tooth fairy. On the last day before Christmas vacation, I spent some time indivdually with each student who had brought a gift for me This would allow me to personally thank each student. There was the usual assortment of "teacher gifts" and gaudy angel figurines that, as one student put it, her mother had gotten at the "crap" store. (craft store)
When it was Crystal's turn I unwrapped a dime store figurine of a small, happy porcelain clown. "Where did you get the money to buy such a wonderful gift?" I asked. Crystal smiled her familiar and ever-present smile. She revealed a whole row of missing teeth. I had to turn away so she would not misinterpret the thankful tears I had in my eyes.
Our family decided to leave"Christmas" on Crystal's doorstep that year. However, she had moved and we didn't know where. I have often often wondered since where Crystal is and what she is doing but but I will always be thankful for a brief encounter with her and for all she taught me.

What I learned: We are never too small or too poor to share thoughtful gifts. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Monday, December 1, 2008


You might think I have the wrong title but I'm not going to talk about the holiday. Grandma Kern used to say that the kids in junior high looked like Halloween. That is the time when childen begin to experiment with growing up. I remember one junior high aged daughter who used an excessive amount of black make-up. I talked and talked but could not get her to change her ways. Finally, I stood beside her in front of the mirror and did everything to my face that she did to hers. When we were finished, she could see the result. I looked like a "lady of the evening", very different than she was used to seeing me. She didn't say a word but after that, she changed her ways and it was never an issue again
About this time I wrote her a one-page letter about this or some other issue. Besides telling her how much I loved her, I used all the junior high lingo I knew of, like B.F.F.(Best Friends Forever) and others. She knew I wasn't hip like a Jr. High student but she also knew I loved her and was willing to step into her world.
Another daughter, when she approached that age, was leaving the house. I reminded her of something she should remember. Some familiar "Momism" like, "Remember who you are." She replied, " Yeah, mom, I know. I know everything." Immediately she caught herself and recognized the ridiculousness of her statement.

WHAT I HAVE LEARNED: Children need to know that you love them and will self-monitor to learn what you have taught them, if you will let them.