The time: naptime for Taye
The players: Jenna & her cell phone
As Jenna is taking three plump pork chops out of their wrapper, her cell phone, which she has purposely set to vibrate during naptime, begins to buzz. She glances at the number, careful not to touch the phone with her raw-pork-riddled hands. Not recognizing the number and afraid the sound of her voice might wake the newly-asleep toddler, she watches as the phone call drops.
A few seconds later, the phone buzzes again signaling a voice message. After filling pocketed pork chops with homemade apple, cheddar, onion & cranberry stuffing, Jenna thoroughly washes her hands (while silently humming the ABC’s to ensure she has washed long enough to rid her hands of all germs).
Stealthily, she lifts the cell phone to her ear to listen to the mysterious message. What she hears brings unforeseen tears to her eyes.
“Hi, Jenna, this is J. B___ over at (Liam’s school). I love your message. It really made me smile. So does your son. He’s a wonderful boy. And I just wanted to let you know what a pleasure he is to teach each day. He’s made some really good adjustments and I’m just really proud of him.
When you see him tonight, tell him Mr. B___ thinks he’s the greatest thing since pencils.
I’ll talk to you soon. Bye now.”
Seriously folks. I was a teacher once. The only phone calls I ever made home were of the nature of phone call no teacher ever wants to make, no parent ever wants to receive, and every student dreads.
It’s been hard sending Liam to all-day school this year. He’s my right-hand man-child. But getting a phone call like this not only solidifies that he’s right where he’s supposed to be, but that he’s with a very caring teacher. One that (we found out on the down-low thanks to some neighbors up the street) is a believer making a difference in kids’ lives by teaching in the public school system.
This curious and unexpected interchange got me to thinking. I never would have made calls like this when I was a teacher. Do I ever offer encouraging words like these as a parent? As a person? As a wife? Or do I save my breath for reactions, scoldings, and negativity? Shouldn’t I be preventing the need for correction and words I usually regret saying in tones of voice I hate hearing myself use by doing what this sage teacher is doing? Building up his students by bragging about them to their parents, creating trust with a few words of positivity, drawing attention to the good things he sees happening.
What about you? How could a few intentional phrases change the life of someone close to you for the better? I know I’m thinking hard to figure out how I can use my words to “pay it forward”, because that phone call just did something to my spirit that is beyond words.