My first-grade teacher stopped at my desk and whispered, “Marlene, you are going to have to stay after school today.”
I gasped and my eyes welled up with tears. “But I didn’t do anything. What did I do wrong?”
She gently patted my back. “I just want to help you with your handwriting.” She walked to the front of the classroom.
I put my head down enough for my long hair to fall over my face. I cried silently.
Kids only stay after school when they’ve been bad. I quickly wiped the tears away. Oh no! I need to blow my nose, but I can’t ask. I don’t want her to see me crying. What am I gonna do?
My teacher looked at me and ran for some tissue. When she came to my desk, she started talking, but I couldn’t hear what she was saying.
I don’t remember how I got home that day, but I know my teacher and I did not work on my handwriting. My world had crumbled and I was shutting down.
My mom and dad comforted me and explained that my teacher just wanted to help me. While mom fixed supper, dad held me and I finally calmed down enough to really listen to him.
Sharing A Treasure
Dad asked, “Did you know that a teacher had to help me with my handwriting too?”
My jaw dropped. “You? But your handwriting is perfect!”
“It wasn’t always that way, though,” he said. “I had to have help and I was upset about it too.”
He nodded his head. “Yes, really. One day, my teacher told me she had a hidden treasure. She wrote the directions to it on a piece of paper and handed it to me. But guess what?”
He exclaimed, “Her writing was so messy, I couldn’t read it!”
Once again, my jaw dropped. “Your teacher wrote like that?”
“Yes, she did,” he said. “Then, she told me to go find the treasure.”
“What did you do?”
“I told her I couldn’t find the treasure, because I couldn’t read her writing. She explained that the treasure was in her heart and she shares it by things she says or writes. She said I have treasures within me too, and I can share them when I write. But, I must write neatly so people can read it and see the treasure.”
I scrunched up my face and asked, “What does that mean?”
When he saw the look on my face, he smiled and said, “God gives each of us important things to say. Those things are treasures for us to share. So, it’s important to learn to write neatly.”
I jumped down and started running out of the room.
He couldn’t help but laugh as he asked, “Where are you going?”
Surprised at his question, I stopped in my tracks, put my hands on my hips, and said, “Well, to go practice my handwriting of course!”
Now he really laughed. “I’m so proud of you,” he said.
I thought my heart would burst with happiness, so I practiced my handwriting that evening. The next day, I took it to school and showed my teacher. She was so happy to see me, she hugged me and explained that I hadn’t been bad at all. She just wanted to help me and she was proud of my work too.
My world was right once again!
I would have remained shut down if my dad hadn’t shared his painful memory with me. It helped me to know:
- It’s okay to have feelings.
- Others have also been through similar emotions and understand.
- It’s okay to not be perfect – to be human.
- I am loved and accepted.
- I am appreciated and valued.
My sister (an extrovert) and I (an introvert) can laugh now about how I go into my “cave” when I’m shutting down. Combine that with my experience from first grade and we see the treasures that come from caves – precious gems.
Parents, let’s take time to mine the treasures from our caves, so we can share those gems with our children when they are shutting down. Let’s give them the precious gems of knowing they aren’t alone; we understand; we love and accept them; and we appreciate and value them highly. These gems will coax them out of their caves also, and they’ll be in our arms where they belong!
“…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5 ESV)