Today during the lunch break at our training today, I walked down the street with my friend and colleague who is a lovely woman from India. She has great dark eyes that grow moist when we talk of children we know. She loves each child like her own grandchild, the more difficult the child, the greater the love. Whenever I need a little refill of patience and understanding. I try to connect with her. She breathes fire into me and shows me why I do this job that is so often discouraging. She must get the same from me, or I hope she does.
Last year I was lucky enough to work with her at the same site. It was the one thing that saved me in an almost impossible year. Whenever I was at the end of my patience with my supervisor and struggling with challenges in the classroom. She would tell me a story about India or a child she struggled with, or she would just look over at me and say, “I don’t know how you stay so calm when he gets like that. You are like a silver lake.” And, I had to smile. Then she would tell a joke, and I would have to laugh. And, then I would watch her make big eyes of surprise and say, “Oh, my gosh!” when a child told her something special, and all those problems were shoved so far back I couldn’t even see them anymore. Whenever I had enough of paperwork and phone calls, I would go out and watch her do circle with her class. Nothing was more important than the Chicken Dance or a child’s feelings. It was like taking a reality shower in the dusty muddle of a day. I will miss working with her, and I know I will be calling her and having lunch and hearing about her problems. But that also means I get share her love and joy and those big eyed surprises.