Somehow, with one minute before we had to leave for school one of my son’s shoes went missing. The only shoes that he will currently wear. I searched everywhere as fast as I could. No luck. It was then that I told him he was going to have to wear his brand new Star Wars Crocs. This didn’t go over well.
My son proceeded to cry, scream and have a fit like only toddlers can. I texted my principal to let her know that I was going to be a few minutes late and decided to conduct one last sweep of the house while my son continued to cry while sitting at the top of the steps. Maybe it would turn up.
No such luck!
I gathered my screaming son and the Crocs that he would have to wear and carried him to the car. I quickly buckled him in his booster seat and put the Crocs on his feet. He immediately kicked them onto the floor. So be it. I would deal with that later. If at all.
Many of our recent drives have been a blast. Windows rolled down and the two of singing. Not today. Luckily the drive to his daycare is only a few minutes. But it was a loud few minutes. My son was still furious that he was not going to be wearing his favorite shoes to school today.
I pull up to his daycare, unbuckle him and with his lunch and Crocs in hand carry him crying into the building. I spend my days trying to bring joy into the lives of kids that I work with everyday and yet on this day I was dropping my son off in an inconsolable state that I could not improve.
When we entered, the kids were in the hallway and getting ready to start their day. The kids, along with his teacher, could see that my son had been crying and that he was barefoot. And it was at that moment something beautiful and magical happened.
They all showed how excited they were to see him. “Derek’s here!!!” They complemented his Crocs and they made him feel like a rock star. His teacher picked him up and was able to convince him in two seconds that his Crocs were in fact awesome! She has helped to raise both of my kids and she is indeed a rock star herself!
I left knowing that I was going to be a few minutes late to work, but so what? My son was happy and in a place with people who truly love him and make him feel good about himself no matter what. No matter what!
This stressful thirty minutes of my morning taught me much. And once again it was a lesson taught to me by little ones. Kids are going to enter our buildings each day in various states of distress. My son has everything a child could ever dream of and his day was almost ruined by a missing shoe! Just imagine if I had to drop him off at a place where he would have been teased for coming in barefoot or scolded for not having his shoes on.
Each day children enter our buildings in different states of distress. It is our job to do everything we possibly can to alleviate that. Before we do anything else!
You forgot your homework? That’s okay, we can find time to get it done later.
You missed breakfast? Here, have some of the muffin I was eating.
You got a bus referral? Okay, that’s already happened. You can still make this day awesome!
We mustn’t be too quick to judge. Our job is to make school a place that kids want to be. Places where they can feel safe and celebrated.
When our students come to us in distress, we must stop and think for a moment: what if this were my own child? What would I want to happen?
I now know that answer because I witnessed it firsthand.
I will do everything in my power to make them feel like the rock stars that they are. No matter if they are barefoot, late, angry or unprepared.
This is their time.
Just remember, one day you’re going to want the same for your child.
(A photo of my son & one of his best buds. They make each other feel like rock stars every day.)