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Posts Tagged ‘relationship’

Tonight is the night for spooky costumes, trick or treaters and more candy received than dentists would ever desire people to eat.

atticusI have endearing memories of being at my grandmother’s house on Halloween night, helping her to hand out candy (and hoping she didn’t hand it all out, because I was more than willing to take it all off of her hands).

I remember her holding the candy hostage until the spooky visitor told her their name, and whether or not they lived on her her road (and, sometimes, who their parents were). She loved this opportunity to get to know her little neighbours.

I remember those dressed up like cute butterflies, pirates, firefighters and princesses. Then there were the ones that were taller, older, and had masks that completely hid their identity from us. Those were the ones that I felt more fearful and hesitant about letting into my grandmother’s home.

But, after my grandmother would ask her questions, once we knew it was the teen from the farm next door, or so-and-so’s grandson, or a stranger who slipped off their mask to smile and introduce themselves, all was well.

You see, the mask they were wearing was not who they really were, and once that mask was off, or the wearer identified, relationship entered the picture.

But, that was not the sole responsibility of the wearer of the mask.

You see, in my ignorance, I had pre-judged the individuals before my grandmother got to them. I saw them as scary, a threat, and I was wrong.

Last week I was wrong about someone, and I love it when I am wrong!

At the beginning of the school year I met dozens of students for the first time, and without intending to, I pre-judged them, according to their words and body language.

One student, in particular, I pre-judged as one who would not accept help, who felt they did not need help, who felt they did not need a learning support block.

In the past few weeks, I have seen a change akin to the metamorphic changes leading to the emergence of a butterfly from it’s cocoon. This student has accepted assistance, worked collaboratively with another student, and has even asked for help in understanding the next unit in a subject.

I was so wrong! And I am so glad.

So, was I just wrong? I don’t think so.

You see, what changed was that, in the beginning, I judged only from what I saw and heard. Much like the trick-or-treaters, when they first walked into my grandmothers house. It was not until I asked questions, in order to get to know this student, that I began to understand who this student really was … on the inside … under the mask that we all wear.

Relationship is what makes the difference in knowing and understanding people.

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As I was preparing a post for today, my attention was diverted (in true undiagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder fashion) to a video, that moved my intended post to another day.

I am not a teacher, I have no calling to become a teacher, but I work in a high school. Although my ‘title’ is Educational Assistant, I prefer to view what I do as that of a ‘reINFORCER’ (I’d love to see that title on the school website … I wonder how many parent calls the school would get). You see I take what a teacher teaches to a full classroom, and then I reinforce the meat of the lesson to a few students in a variety of ways.

This video reinforces my heart-cry for the necessity of relationship within learning. As a ‘non’ teacher I have more freedom to look at the students as a whole rather than look at them through their academic, intellectual or social achievements.

About ten years ago I was introduced to a teacher who was leading a workshop on behavioral issues in the classroom. She started her workshop telling us her philosophy:

“If you want to change a student’s behavior,
you need to first convince them that
(real or perceived)
you like them.”
Carol Griffiths

After that workshop, I did not miss one of her workshops again for many years. She gave words to the cry of my heart for the students that I encounter each day. From that point on, I changed how I did my job, because now I had words to keep me intentional in the focus of my job.

This TED video reinforces that message. I cannot say that this change in my focus will improve the academic scores of the students I encounter (but how could it not?), but I do believe, with all my heart, mind and soul, that it will improve their future life.

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It is said, by them, that opposites attract.00769-funny-cartoons-porcupine

They say that the characteristics that drive us buggy each and every day (not in my relationship, of course) about each other are the same characteristics that drew us to our nemesis love in the first place.

For instance, the hubby who is frustrated with his wife’s inability to just get at a task and get it done, also loved how she would drop whatever she was doing to spend time with him when they first met. The woman who would like to wring her hubby’s neck for talking to every person in the grocery store, once respected how friendly he was to people.

So, we are advised by them to focus on the good side of those characteristics, rather than on the side that causes the emotional equivalent of an anaphylactic shock (not always an easy task without epinephrine!).

Truly living together can leave a person prickly!

I drive my hubby nuts because I put off each and every telephone-related task that I need to make. He drives me nuts because a telephone is a permanent part of his appearance.

I have probably caused hubby to lose years off his life (and definitely sleep) by bringing the dreaded beasty into our home and life. He has probably caused me to lose years of my life driving with him.

And speaking of driving, those solar signs that tell you what speed you are going make me slow down to dangerously low speeds because I am always so panicked by their presence. Hubby, on the other hand sees them and speeds up to see just how high he can get the number to go! But, I digress …

The yin and yang of the pairing within a marriage relationship can seem ridiculously unnatural. Sort of like the fantastic combination of balsamic vinegar and olive oil for a salad … they do not even stay mixed together! Or dollops of cold sour cream onto hot and spicy tacos. Or the brightness of the stars on the darkest night. Or putting animal dung on the same soil where we plant crops (and if you think I am going to identify which in the marital relationship is the plant and which is the dung …).

Or the combination of a man and woman, biologically, emotionally, socially opposites. Yet if God himself is the one responsible for the matching of male and female, I guess He must know what He was doing in making us not just opposite, but attractive to each other as well.

“The Lord God said,
“It is not good for the man to be alone.
I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Genesis 2:18

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As we walked down the streets of the village, the warm autumn sun shining brightly, stepping into and out of shops that caught our eye, I felt such a profound sense of thankfulness for this friend at my side. At one point, I introduced her to someone as my friend, and a realization filled my heart … I have a friend.

We have only known of each other for a bit more than two years, but my dependence on her in my life makes it seem like we have been friends since the beginning of time. We met through my oldest daughter who coached her kids, and had become friends with their mom, through swimming. I feel a bit like I stole this lady out from under my daughters sight.

I love her wit, her sarcasm, and her passion for anything she sets her mind to. I am excited for her, as she works towards her Masters degree, in education. I love that our friendship is one, not just of female conversation, but of just being comfortable and content to be together, whether over coffee, while grocery shopping or watching our kids swim together.

Her children are still in elementary school, and they bring back the joy of shrieking and giggling into my life. She even has fantastic taste in names, as she has a Little Ben, and I the Big Ben (considering her hubby’s height, I look forward to seeing if their titles stay, or switch, as they grow). Her daughter is a bright and focused first born, who loves books and pretty things. Her hubby is a good man, who loves his family and works a job that exhibits his care for community as a firefighter.

Although I do love their family as a whole (and get that mid-life-crises mama feeling of joy when her son and daughter wrap their arms around my neck), it is my friend who I love the most.

With her, I feel no need to ‘be’ someones mom or wife. My only ‘role’ is that of friend. I am not expected to open up and share my every inner thought and feeling, nor do I feel the need to have her reveal hers. We truly, simply, enjoy spending time together. Although I have never had a sister, I wonder if this relationship is what it is like to have a life-long, blood-related girl sibling.

For years I have struggled with having time for friends. Our life is so busy, that I have often felt as though I needed to guard my every spare moment for my hubby and kids. I have struggled with feeling that perhaps friendships within the church (hubby’s workplace) are due more to my hubby’s role. These struggles, I see now, are mine, and ones that I need to overcome.

This friend is not a friend from church, not a friend from a situation, it is like she was hand placed, at my side, by the One who knew I needed her in my life. I am thankful for her … so very thankful, and believe that we were placed at each others side for such a time as this.

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As I write this post I am sitting outside, in the shade of the trees behind our house, as the sun is crawling up into the late morning sky.

I am also being entertained by the four individuals in our pool. Their ages are five, eight, almost thirteen 🙂 and fifteen.

Our youngest daughter and son are playing with abandon, with their younger friends. There is no biology shared between them, but their relationship is akin to cousins. The younger pair trailing behind the older, keeping up because they so want to be together, because they so want to do what their older friends do.

They have a relationship that means every greeting and farewell includes a hug. They each get an instant smile on their faces when they see each other. There is total and complete confidence in the love and affection that they have for each other. Together they are like one unit, with no divisions.

The littler ones presence also seems to bring the older ones together in a manner normally unseen in these two VERY normal siblings (aka. fighting, disagreeing, arguing). For all the hours they were together there was none of that ‘normal’ behavior, and I relaxed in my temporary utopia.

The littler girl loves to be paired with the older one, and the littler boy (aka Little Ben) loves to be with the older (Big Ben). That said, they all play together, and when one is missing, their twosome or threesome continue on.

What refreshment they bring to our home and to our day. They provide instant smiles and laughter.

When we see them, I am immediately reminded that the stage of childhood that they are now at (elementary school aged) is completed in our home, and I am immediately satisfied with the return of the joy that their presence brings.

They remind me that washing faces and hands is a must after eating (especially enormous waffles with whipped cream and blueberries). They remind me that half an hour is enough time for any one activity, and don’t try stretching it our too long. They remind me that fights erupt quickly, and are settled and forgotten about just as quickly. They remind me that please and thank you are the most used words in a day. And that when they are with someone they love, their little eyes and hearts and minds are fully attentive to the object of that affection.

This is a privilege, and an honor. To spend time looking at the world through the eyes of children. How much more beautiful, more large, more wonderfilled it is.

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