How has your day been so far? Are you having a good day? These were the questions from a very intelligent, respectful and sweet second grader. He returned to my desk, three or four times, to share his math problems and bubbling charisma.
In the same building, I interacted with two teachers who were at the opposite end of the kindness spectrum. Having initiated conversations with both, I received single syllable or abruptly issued responses. Did I present myself the same way to adults and children? Absolutely yes.
The difference is more than an age discrepancy. It’s Friday to all concerned, complete with the end of week sigh of relief and anticipation of two days with family and without responsibilities.
My guess is that kids receive others with few if any qualifications. They give of themselves with no expectation or necessity for receiving anything in return. The young man was kind, helpful and interested in improving the world, one human at a time. The teachers, by comparison, were both more interested in their cell phones than they were in communicating with me.
Maybe we have our priorities maladjusted. In our very technical world, we need to stop and think about the people who surround us instead of the images in our devices.
There are many obvious variables. The teachers may have had difficult days that my second grader can’t (and doesn’t need to) imagine. Second grader had the advantage of loving parents kissing him goodbye for the day and when they collected him in the afternoon.
On the brighter side, I encountered one more teacher who was cheerful, appreciative and extremely cordial at the very end of the day. She redefined the culture of that school and enthusiastically thanked me for working with and encouraging her students in my art class. Maybe she didn’t have a challenge-filled day. Or maybe she was simply that educator who spread congeniality all over as if it were peanut butter. It was, like so many others, a happy day. Shalom.