There’s a video going around about a Florida teacher who spends ten minutes every morning encouraging his students that inspired me in my practice of shalom with the kids.
Like most kids, my guys wake up for school in a stank mood. They do not want to go. They’re done. and I get it. I’m careening towards my own version of worst end of the school year mom. But, I saw this video last week and thought myself, what if every morning on the drive to school I encourage the kids with compliments. If words have power and I want to use them to make my kids whole then let me try to encourage them every single day until the last day of school.
I started with, “you’re smart. You’re kind. You’re a leader.” The kids joked that I sounded like Aibileen Clark from, “The Help”, so I switched tactics and moved on to specific things going on in their lives,
“You can be a peacemaker with your friends at lunchtime.
You can be respectful to your math teacher even when you’re bored.
It’s ok to show how much you know about history by answer the teacher when she calls on you.”
I ran out of specifics to yell from the minivan so this morning I decided to remind them of their back to school benedictions.
At the beginning of the year, I told TJ that I believed he was a brave kid, that God made him to be daring and take meaningful risks like make a new friend or try out an instrument. Well, this morning I called to him as he got out of the van, “Jesus loves you and don’t forget to be Daring today T.J.!”
I guess my encouragement meant something to him because today at school he wrote this letter in response to some frustrating news he got at the local library last week.
Oh my word, how daring is that?
But it gets better, y’all! Because he wanted to actually give the letter to the librarian instead of put it in the mail, “I think it’ll mean more if I go to the library.” He said.
I had to work so, my oldest offered to take his brother to the library.
When they got home they told me this story:
Terrance walked up to the librarian, handed the letter to her and said,
“I know this isn’t the money, but I have this letter.”
The librarian read it, chuckled and then walked back to her supervisor to show her the letter. The manager called them back to the office and said, “I read your note. It was really cute. What card is the fee on?” He told her and then she said, “Ok, I can reduce the fee down to 3.95. Can you pay that now?” he said no- of course he didn’t have any money and he expected to be a library intern!
But then my oldest chimed in with a solution. He told her that he has a card-making business and he’d sell his playing cards to help pay his brother’s fines. Then he asked will she let him check out books until his balance is brought to zero. The librarian asked to see his playing cards. My oldest pulled an unfinished pack out of his back pocket and showed her. The librarian then whipped out HER OWN WALLET and bought the pack from my son for $5. Because T.J. dared to ask, the kiddos not only got T.J.’s card down to a zero balance, but my oldest is so encouraged in his art.
I’m amazed at the power of kind words right now.
I want to give a huge shout out to the staff at the La Crescenta Library branch for their kindness and support of my kiddos.
Shalom and Saving Money on Library Fines,