These Are The Days

Smart ~ Writer ~ Mom

Month: August 2015

His Smile

I don’t remember much, but that’s what I remember the most. His smile. Warm, friendly.

He was twice my age when he passed in those few days after Christmas.

Little things still trigger memories.

…My excitement over receiving the BandAid album “Do They Know It’s Christmas” (such a sign of the times in the 80s) was tempered by the events of the days to follow. Whenever I hear the song, I pause, and am instantly transported back to a cold January morning in 1985.

…It was a long time before I was brave enough to drive or even ride through that tunnel.  

I remember his laughter and love of family.

His athleticism. His love of baseball. His kindness.

When I was 13 or so. Walking home from school. On Florence Street, near the park. He pulled over and said ‘hop in!’ and he drove me home.

When he and another cousin painted our house. Tall ladders to reach the highest points of our duplex. White paint on their jeans and baseball caps.

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And then, nervously climbing the stairs with his mother to visit his room a few months after his passing.

A small bottle of Brut cologne still on the dresser. The heartache was released slightly in a bittersweet moment as we laughed at the incredible smallness of the room.

No bigger than a closet! Or so it seemed. Somehow wedged between the peaks of their Victorian home. Even I had to duck my head.

I remember seeing the pain in his sisters’ eyes.

Receiving a comforting hug from one. Feeling inspired by the poem written by another.

I remember the face of his mother, on whose birthday this tragic event unfolded. Her pain, unimaginable.

I remember the strength and resilience of a family that carried on in spite of their enormous loss. Weddings and babies and anniversaries and family Christmas parties and celebrations.

His absence, undeniable. His presence, palpable.

I remember lots of things. And not much at all.

But mostly, I remember his smile.

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Filling The Bucket

I haven’t posted in a while, but when I saw today’s Five Minute Friday prompt, “LEARN”, I was inspired. Disclaimer- I totally wrote this post back in May as my daughter’s preschool year was coming to an end. But I never finished it. So, today? I decided to finish it 🙂
OMG second disclaimer. I drafted this on Friday and then I got distracted and so even though this is meant to be a response to a Five Minute FRIDAY, it’s turned out to be a Six-Minute-Sunday-kind-of- post. 

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My daughter’s preschool teachers are doing it right.

In addition to learning their letters and numbers, the young students are learning a valuable lesson about compassion.

20150428_115940At the front of their classroom is a jar filled with multi-color cotton balls and a sign that says, “We Are Bucket-Fillers!” The cotton balls are all shapes and sizes.

(“Just like people”, the teachers say)

Below the jar, at just the right height for three and four-year old eyes, is a makeshift bucket. The teachers tell their students that every time one of them does something special for someone else in the class – by helping, comforting, etc. – they can choose one cotton ball and move it from the jar to the bucket. The goal? To perform acts of kindness and compassion and fill their bucket!

At first, their motives are purely selfish.

The kids get a kick out of doing something nice for one another just so they can play with the cotton balls.

Katie helps her friend pick up some toys, and then Katie skips over to move a cotton ball to the bucket in honor of her great deed. 

But then something happens that surprises even the teachers.

You know what these brave, beautiful kids did? It wasn’t enough for these do-gooders to just do nice things for one another. Nope. They went on the lookout, like tiny little spies, observing and watching each other. As they performed their own good deeds, they became tuned in to looking for the acts of compassion in each other as well.

Their hearts swelled and their faces beamed as they saw how much happiness and love they were able to inspire in their little classroom.

Luke witnesses Michael helping Anna; so Luke puts a cotton ball in the bucket for Michael

And then Michael witnesses Bella comforting Mason; so Michael puts a cotton ball in the bucket for Bella

These wonderful, amazing teachers taught them how to be compassionate and also how to pay it forward by recognizing and celebrating the compassion they see in others.

Now filled with a rainbow of colored cotton balls, the bucket is a powerful visual reminder of the compassion the students had shown. Every time I visit my daughter’s classroom, she’s always excited to show me the bucket of cotton balls. Such a simple lesson, right? But so powerful.

I truly believe in tests to measure what and how well our kids our learning. But I’m not a big fan of “teaching to the test.” Sadly, I think this is where we’re headed – if we’re not already there. Subjects like math and reading and science and history are all important. But what kind of citizens will our kids become without common sense, kindness, compassion, and empathy?

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