My mom was the director of a daycare center for 27 years. Then she retired. For something like a week. Maybe two. And went back to work as a teacher’s aid in a public school classroom, loving on kids with various mental and physical setbacks all day.
Ask her any day “How was school?” and you’ll get a good story. And you’ll inevitably cry. Those kind of tears kids wring out of us – the kind that spill from equal parts heartache and joy.
Being there for a first laugh. For a first slide. For a first trip to the potty on his own.
A blind child laughing at the feel of sand in fingers. A child without hands eating with his toes. An abused child spewing vulgarity, writhing in hatred, hitting, hugged and held and soothed into peace and stillness again.
These are the everyday miracles worked through the child whisperer. My mom.
If compassion for kids is genetic then I certainly got mine from her. If it comes from repetitious example, she’s to thank for that too. East Texas is full of big and little people loved well by “Nonnie” over the last three and a half decades.
Add one more. Here in Tennessee.
My mom, dad, sister, two nieces and a nephew from Texas paid us a visit over the weekend. They drove all those miles to Tennessee to meet S.
“Now, mom,” I said,” I don’t know how’s going to react. He may be shy. He may run and hide. He may just be very serious. I’ve seen him do all of this with some visitors.”
“And mom,” I said, “you know we’re trying to help him understand what a mom and dad are…so Becky and I need to be the ones who do all the hugging and comforting when he gets hurt…for the time being. Just until he seems to understand that our relationship with him is unique – we’re the only mom and dad. Okay?”
She understood. And she prepared the rest of the visitors. She had the kids enter our house first, hoping that would be a less scary introduction to the crowd. She told the kids not to rush in and start hugging and playing – “let him come to you,” she’d instructed.
And they listened well.
My nieces and nephews opened the door. My sister, dad and mom bringing up the rear. I explained to S in the most soothing voice that he wasn’t going anywhere. I told him who everybody was one by one. “…and this is dad’s mom…Nonnie.”
He smiled. And off he and the just-arrived cousins ran – to play and laugh for hours. For two days.
Not a second of shyness or fear. And Nonnie even got a hug. Or three.
Why did I doubt the kid whisperer’s powers for even a second?