Father’s Day… one of those last minute, almost forgotten about holidays for teachers. Honestly, what teacher is able to think of some cutesy, genuinely thoughtful gift for their students’ fathers while they are busy preparing report cards, field trips, and year-end slideshows? Well, I thought I had a gift that at least adequately fit those descriptors. We were going to make cookies and decorate cookie jars just for dad! It was going to be fun and my students were going to love it!
The first thing I hear as I pull out the jars… “Those jars are ugly!”… “Do we seriously have to paint these jars? Can’t we just draw with Sharpies?”… “Those jars are so small! How are we even going to fit cookies in there??”
Yep… there go my dreams of a positive and fun assignment. Fly away little dreams, fly away!
This past year has been a rather trying one in terms of keeping things positive. Not too far into the year I had to start up a “positivity jar” where students would earn marbles for every (genuinely) positive comment I heard. Let’s just say that the jar stopped, as it was the slowest earning jar we had ever seen. After every negative comment I heard, I would attempt to model an opposing positive comment or try to get the student to come up with their own positive comment (which would almost always end in an eye roll).
Now, I’m trying not to complain here, and I’m really trying to stay positive, but where have all the positive children gone?? I have to ask myself how these 10 year old's have managed to become so cynical and pessimistic. The only answer I have come up with is, well, it’s us adults. On to story number two… (which happened later that day).
On my long drive home I came up to a rather busy intersection during one of Lethbridge’s few rush hours, and traffic was stalled a bit. As it slowly got moving, I was on my way to the next set of lights, when they turn yellow. I had enough time to stop and wasn’t exactly up for running a red light, so I stopped. I look behind me in my rear-view mirror and see this lovely elderly gentlemen cussing me out and waving his hands frantically at me just begging me to keep going. This goes on for another 20 seconds. I merely smile back at him.
Now, this gentleman looked like he was on his own, but how many times has something like this happened when there were small children around? How many times has a child witnessed mom, dad, aunt, or uncle, come home and do nothing but complain about their day? How often do children get to witness an adult criticizing the waitress or meal at a restaurant? I don’t know about you guys, but I think it’s time as adults we need to step up and actually think about what we say around those sponge-like minds around us. We need to start thinking about how we can transform the negative circumstances into positive ones. How can we show that we are grateful for those opportunities that challenge us to greater growth? Isn't it in the bible that it says "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We need to teach our children to give thanks in all circumstances instead of complaining and whining. God doesn't promise us an easy, trouble-free life, He promises a "future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11), and to care for us through our anxieties (see 1 Peter 5:7).
Don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those people who go around whistling a happy tune with a 100-watt grin on all day… I can definitely get into a complaint mode. I need to vent. We all need to vent. Otherwise we’d all explode! But maybe, just maybe, we need to keep those times for when we can share it with another adult who can handle it, instead of sharing it around those who are still forming their personalities?
Just a thought.