Children are hugely impacted by the relationships they have with others. Obviously, the most influence is from those with whom the child has a close, emotional bond or attachment… like Mom or Dad. But other people in his life can make a big impression, as well. I’m sure we can all think about somebody in our childhood who meant something to us and can remember details of time spent with them. It may have been a teacher, a relative, or even a friend.
What we remember as significant may not have registered at the time with the person we were with. What we saw as “special” may have been largely unintentional. That person was merely spending time with us, not realizing they were making memories we would be holding on to. Some of these “moments” can be life-changing, impacting all of our future relationships in some way. And, who knew!
Every child comes into our classroom open to the influences of relationships. Perhaps it will be you she remembers and will take something good from what you said or did and carry it with her.
I can remember one such relationship as if it were yesterday. I was an only child and every summer my Great Aunt Bessie (my Grandmother’s older sister) would come to stay with us for a week. It was something to look forward to, for sure. She was in her eighties, very animated, and a mountain of a woman... over 5'11". She had spent her childhood in a Catholic boarding school and had the best stories to tell (mostly about how she fooled the nuns! She often held her thermometer against a light bulb so she'd have enough fever to stay out of class). Aunt Bessie spent all day with me… and the two of us had the best time. We'd pick flowers and make daisy chains, dance together, draw pictures, and paint each other’s fingernails. She also had a huge repertoire of silly songs she would teach me, many of which I have taught my own children.
I remember one particular summer as she was leaving after her visit. It was raining and she had her old, brown suitcase in her hand. She kissed me goodbye and headed down the walk, where my dad was waiting in the car. She got about halfway and turned back. She set her suitcase down, put her hands on my shoulders and looked me right in the eyes. She said, "Dare to be a Daniel. Dare to stand alone. Dare to have a purpose. Dare to make it known." She picked up her suitcase and got into the car. It was last time I would see her, because she passed away that winter.
I never really knew, as a child of 10, what it was that she meant by what she said to me... until years later and then I understood. I have tried to live that every day... to stand up for what I know is right, even if it is not popular with everyone else... and to try and make a difference.
If you still have the chance, tell your special person how important they have been to you, while they are still here. They have made a difference in who you are.