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Walking Angels

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I am a firm believer that there is a special place in heaven for some people. Like those who save animals are positioned perfectly by the rainbow bridge. And those who help one another for no gain may get a fast pass by the pearly gates and St. Peter’s interrogation. You know who I’m talking about. It’s the walking “Mother Teresas” who exude such energy that you don’t question one bit if their admittance ticket will be accepted. Yes, those people have a front row seat saved especially for them.

Anyone who has met my grandma knows that she is one of those lucky ones. She may not be able to recite Bible verses, but her humility in this chapter has positioned her beautifully in her next. I think when it’s her time to walk in the clouds, her job will be pretty spectacular as I am sure Mary is saving a special place for her.

Or my children’s teachers. I’ve told them from day one that even though they won’t need it, I’ll make sure of their direct line to bliss. No words should have to confirm their spots thanks to every snotty nose, temper-tantrum, and diaper blowout they have had to tackle for kids that aren’t even in their bloodline. I mean, I love my children a lot, but even my nerves would be shot watching them every day full-time.

You know those people you’ve met who just fit the job requirements without even needing to fill out an application. They live their lives for others. They help those in need without question. They love unconditionally. If you’ve met a handful of these walking angels, consider yourself blessed. But even more special is meeting one who doesn’t even know that they are.

I’ve always believed that you can learn a lot from a child. Their innocence and naivety gives their words a pureness of true honesty, whether you like it or not. They are passionate on both sides of the spectrum – when they love unconditionally and when they despise everything in their sight. As they feel out the world, their self-centeredness is usually on high alert, an evolutionary trait for survival. So when you find one who puts aside their need for personal gain and tends to live on the passion extreme of love, you’ve found a gem. And when that person is a 5 year-old, you’ve hit a gold mine.

My son is definitely passionate and full of more energy than I could ever dream of experiencing in the rest of my lifetime combined. And smart is an understatement when I describe him. He’s actually too smart for his own good, and it’s gotten him in trouble a time or two. He’s as that age where he can’t seem to always positively channel his feelings when his brain is working faster than the world around him. He needs to be challenged and focused, and when he is he does glorious things. But when he isn’t, oh boy.

We fell upon the opportunity to get him into school a little earlier through a new program positioned mainly for kids who missed the new cutoff age for kindergarten by a month or two. Many are ready for more structured learning, but maturity-wise, another year in will make all the difference before heading into full-fledged academia. Junior-kindergarten they call it around here. Similar curriculum as kindergarten, but a tad less structure.

While age-wise, Eli doesn’t embody the requirements for this class (he’s definitely the youngest), smarts-wise, he was a shoe in. And when this momma found out about this program after school started, I didn’t hesitate to inquire about an open spot. Sometimes the “God-moments” in your life are hard to find, and others hit you right upside the head. There was no questioning God this time around. Eli snagged the very last spot that this class offered. I actually cried when I got the news that he was in, knowing that my intelligent little guy would be challenged in every way he needed to be.

And he has been. Academically, he’s soaring. He’s absorbing everything thrown at him and loving every second of it. He tells me regularly how much he loves his new school. While I know it’s partially from what he’s learning, he always makes me chuckle as he tells me it’s because he no longer has to take naps and gets to play on the playground regularly. I just tell myself that between his new love for finding sight words, bringing home handmade pottery, and playing on the classroom’s iPads, he’s learning by not realizing he’s learning. And he’s soaking it all in nonetheless.

But I must not live in a world of rainbows and butterflies. I would be neglecting the full story if I didn’t acknowledge that while academically he’s right on, maturity-wise, he has plenty of room to grow. It’s a daily conversation about if he has lost a “dojo”, the school’s behavior point system. We have a family mantra each morning that consists of daily reminders to keep our hands to ourselves, to say nice words, to not push friends, and to follow directions. Most days it works, but some days the pent-up little boy inside can’t be restrained anymore, and we get a note home from school.

I’d heard about some of the instances. We’ve had parent-teacher conferences and direct emails about his days when he lost points. We’ve done joint discipline, where he loses privileges on days he loses dojo and gets special experiences on days he gains them. We’ve tried it all, and while his maturity is growing, he still has tough days, and when I came to school for my parent reader duty, I got to see the aftermath firsthand of one of those.

Every Friday, parents have the opportunity to sign up to read to the class after lunch before recess. I promised myself to be the kind of parent that was involved with their kids and visible at school, so I signed up for a Friday and was excited when the calendar reminded me that day had arrived. I promised him that I would eat one of those “yummy” cafeteria lunches with him that day too, and actually was pleasantly surprised by the deliciousness of the homemade potato soup and salad bar.

I equate my experience that day at lunch to when I sit on the back porch on a warm summer evening. The intentions are lovely, but I must be the freshest meat on the block as I attract every mosquito in the neighborhood why I set foot outside. I know it’s not just me, but when a new adult comes into a room of kids, they nearly attack you with questions and statements, anything to get your attention. I smiled, but behind it I was overwhelmed as all of the kids in his class nearly suffocated me while I scarfed down my lunch.

The newness wore off, and when it did, I was left with one girl standing by my side. She was a beautiful blonde with blue eyes that nearly glittered when she smiled. I started to notice her as she inched closer and closer, and when she realized that if she spoke she would have my full attention, she opened her mouth as she lifted up her sleeve. She showed me a boo-boo on her arm, and I quickly grabbed her hand asking her if she was okay. She smiled; yes, she was. But she told me that the mark was because Eli had pushed her a few days before.

My heart sunk. I was mortified. I wanted to spew out every apology possible. I wanted to take back her hurt. I tried and even made Eli apologize right there to her even though I am confident he had several times already. She touched by shoulder, and almost as if she could tell how apologetic I was, told me it was okay. She was fine.

As if I was a kid in the junior-kindergarten class myself, I started to line up with the rest of the bunch when it was time to head to the classroom for me to read a silly Dr. Seuss book. Eli was extra hyper since I was there so I resorted to the back of the line so as to not distract him anymore than my presence already did. Plus, I figured I could bring up the rear and help his teachers out, ensuring all of the little made it to the room in one piece.

I always learn something myself when I step foot into that classroom, and that day I learned the silly game the teacher did to con the kids into being quiet during the commute. I am saving that one in my pocket for a moment of desperation myself one day. While the rest of the class weaved in and out and down the stairs, I noticed that the sweet little girl who had found me at lunch, found me again in that line. She was the last student herself.

Since the teacher couldn’t see or hear her, she would look up to me and whisper little things, giggling as we made our way to the room. She told me about how she loved the book we were going to read and that she just couldn’t wait to hear it. I giggled back, but then cautioned her to follow directions because I didn’t want to be the reason for her to possibly lose a dojo. She smiled and obliged.

Just as we were making the last turn from the staircase to the hallway with a direct shot to the classroom, I was startled as I felt something on my hand. In a split second I had a rush of emotion from a range on the spectrum. Startled I was at first, but the feeling felt familiar. I’d had a little hand wiggle its way into mine many-a-time before as a mom of three kiddos. Somehow the warmth of that touch comforts both who share in that grasp.

This sweet girl looked up at me and smiled. Her heart full and mine too. A new friendship we had made. And it was one based on something that I didn’t know a 5-year-old had the capacity to fully feel or even to give. She didn’t know me. We had never met before. And all that she did know was that I was Eli’s mom, the kid in the class that had most recently hurt her feelings. When she should have probably associated negative thoughts with me, she proved that she was different.

That day she embodied the true essence of forgiveness. She showed me that even in the deepest of hurt, anyone can overcome it by fully letting go and letting God. She didn’t dislike me or Eli for that matter. And in one touch, in one handhold, in one sheepish grin, she forgave without ever speaking a word.

Self-centered? Maybe she is at times. I mean, she’s 5 for crying out loud. Will she give another kid a boo-boo one day? I am sure of it. Does she throw a temper-tantrum? I’d love to think not, but then I’d just be lying to myself. She’s a kid, just like my Eli, who I am sure has good days and not-so-good days. But I do know one thing for certain. This little girl is going to save the hearts of others as that day, she saved mine. She taught me that forgiveness isn’t hard at all. All it takes is a little love and a little letting go.

Her place in heaven is set, no doubt about it in my book. But until she gets to slide on rainbows, play with butterflies, and bounce on clouds, she has a job to do. Here. And while I don’t know what she will be when she grows up or if I will even get the chance to watch her do it from the sidelines, I do know one thing. That sweet girl is a walking angel.

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Stephanie Feger

Stephanie Feger

Throughout her life, she’s been in the business of empowering people. She’s empowered her teams to collective success. She’s empowered individuals, groups and organizations to embrace perspective as a tool for deeper satisfaction and personal and professional accomplishments. And she’s empowered authors, small business owners and entrepreneurs with communications and marketing strategies to help them reach their goals.

Stephanie Feger

Through her life, she’s been in the business of empopwering people. She’s empowered her teams to collective success. She’s empowered individuals, groups and organizations to embrace perspective as a tool for deeper satisfaction and personal and professional accomplishments. And she’s empowered authors, small business owners and entrepreneurs with communications and marketing strategies to help them reach their goals.

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