The Setting: Summer School with eleven 2nd graders, 8:45am.
We do an ice breaker: How many of you have pets? I ask.
Sam* raises his hand.
“I have a little dog, he’s part…”
“Poodle?!” Adam* interrupts.
“No, he’s part…”
“No, he’s part hot dog dog and…”
“NO! He’s part hot dog dog and chi…”
“He’s a chihuahua!”
“NO! I HAVE A CHIWEENIE!”
I had my 5th graders list the most important characteristics in their friends – and to prioritize them. Here are two responses:
You’ve got to love how candid kids can be – “too talkative” – nobody likes that, right?
I noticed that out of 61 5th graders, “trust” and “kindness” were the top two answers.
The lunch ladies at our school want to drum up more business. They asked me to distribute surveys to see what kids want and what would impel them to purchase school lunch. Here are some of their responses:
What could be more pure – more potent – than a 10 year old professing love to another 10 year old?
Working with children fills my heart with joy every single day.
I was talking to a friend who is also a mom. She was concerned about her daughter and who she’s been hanging out with at school and on weekends. My friend is divorced, so half the time she has absolutely no control over her child’s social activities. (The father is much looser with supervision).
We discussed the challenges of parenthood in an age where our kids can maintain a full social calendar in virtual reality.
We discussed peer pressure. Cattiness. Meanness.
We discussed drug and alcohol abuse among 13 (yes, 13) year-olds.
We discussed how kids are sneaking out of the house at 1am and trespassing in other people’s yards and pools. Here in
Arizona America, where guns are ubiquitous, I can see someone shooting one of these kids in the dark. Absolutely. Unfortunately.
We discussed the very fine line between parenting and controlling.
I thought to myself, how lucky I am to have daughters who get excellent grades and work hard at everything. How lucky I am to have daughters who talk to me, show me silly Instagram posts and get along with each other so well.
And then I realized that I rarely tell them this. I think it a lot. I tell my friends and family. But I don’t tell my daughters to their face how I know it’s challenging to be them right now. I don’t acknowledge the dangers, pitfalls and temptations that they have in terms of technology, risky behavior and drugs. Instead, I tell them to not buy into society’s pressures to be “pretty” and primp in front of the mirror. I tell them that they need to learn how to manage money, or it will manage them. I tell them it’s important to get good grades and do well in music so that they can get college scholarships.
But today, I acknowledged them. I acknowledged the hard work, the struggle, the pain…and that I appreciate their fight. The 13-year-old looked me straight in the eyes and said, “I love you, mom.”