Yesterday I received an email from Maddie's teacher letting me know Maddie had been fragile, crying easily over little things. She wanted to let me know so I could chat with her and see what was going on. I sat down with Maddie last night and asked her to tell me what happened.
I told her about the email and asked what was wrong. At first she was talking about friends who had been mean to her and upset her, and that led in to a story about glue and how her teacher said she wasn't supposed to get the glue and she *tried* to tell her, etc. Since her story (no surprise) was a little different than her teacher's, I asked about the discrepancies - I had been told she was crying about mis-cut paper, not glue. As she told that part of the story, she started crying again. I probed and asked what she was really crying about, since the idea of her crying about glue or paper seemed completely improbable.
She said nothing else was going on, and I told her I've been going through a tough time, and it's kind of coloring everything else... things that wouldn't upset me right now are getting me really upset, etc. I asked if there was anything like that for her and she said no. I asked if maybe she was missing her dad after spring break, and she said no, she wasn't thinking about him at all. I had her tell the story again and asked why she cried then and now, as she told it. It came down to the fact that she thought her teacher was really mad at her, since she had raised her voice. I asked Maddie if she thought her teacher cared about her, and she shrugged her shoulders. Then I pointed out that if her teacher didn't care at all, she wouldn't have emailed me, and Maddie acknowledged it.
We started talking about the difference between an adult raising her voice to be heard vs raising it because she's angry, and Maddie was pretty sure that she had been angry. I asked Maddie to think about it from her teacher's perspective, and Maddie nodded. Then I asked the all important question, "Do you know what that means?" Maddie said she did not, in fact, understand the concept she had just said she understood.
Putting yourself in another person's shoes is SUCH an important concept. I have dealt with so, SO many people who steadfastly, stubbornly...selfishly... refuse to see things from another person's point of view. It's not an easy task, it requires compassion and a willingness to die to yourself. To put someone else's interest over your own is, in all honesty, tough. Not to get all John Lennon on you, but man... can you imagine a world where people did that? No more theft, no more lying, no more cheating spouses and broken hearts. It would be really, really amazing if more people could do that. No, it would be really, really amazing if more people WOULD do that. We can all do it, it just takes practice. This brings me back to Maddie, and my realization that this is one of those life lessons that I really wanted to get through to her.
As we sat face to face on my bed, I talked about perspective. I told her that I can't see what she could see right then, but if I imagined what it was like to be sitting where she was, I had an idea of what she was seeing. I told her, "I bet from where you are sitting you see my pillows on my bed, my wall hanging behind my head and the curtains on the window... am I right?" She said I was (yay me! ; ) LOL) and then I asked her to tell me what I was seeing. She said "You see me (awesome)... the picture on the wall... the...dresser..." and I stopped her. I told her she was exactly right and she didn't have to see *everything* I was seeing, but the fact that she was seeing some of it was good. I told her that when she is dealing with situations with people, she can do that - put herself in their place and see things the way THEY do. It was then that we tossed around what it must be like to deal with a bunch of second graders who are loud, have to be told things multiple times, and all have a reason why they're using the glue when they're not supposed to that the teacher has neither the time nor the inclination to hear.
Maddie and I decided that it was altogether possible that her teacher was not yelling out of anger, she was yelling out of necessity... to be heard, to be obeyed and maybe, possibly a teeny bit out of frustration. Lord help the teachers, who do every day what so many will not. All that to say, I think Maddie got it. I hope Maddie got it. I am so happy to have had the opportunity to teach my daughter something that will make a positive impact on the world as a whole and her small community of her class. I hope I can remember to have this same attitude when I'm driving to work in a bit... because I did NOT show compassion to the man who cut me off yesterday. Ahhhh, I hate it when my lessons come full circle to slap me in the face.
Happy Thursday, everyone.