Today, was an amazing day. I tasted my first delicious Oregon strawberry of the season and said a short Shehayanu prayer of gratitude. I was carded at a local market where I was buying a bottle of wine (Really? I will be 44 this year… but hey complimenting a women on her age can always make someone smile). I had a meal with my mother in honor of her birthday. We hugged and laughed and shared an hour together.
The highlight of the day though was joining Mrs. Burbank’s 4/5 class in McMinnville, Oregon for an hour to discuss mitzvahs and acts of kindness. When Kathleen Burbank emailed me a few weeks ago that she had been reading to her class from my book, I was thrilled. She went on to share that they had begun to do their own acts of kindness and were even putting together a book to share with the other classes in the school as well as with me.
I emailed Mrs. Burbank and told her that if I could meet with her students before the end of the year I wanted to schedule it. I had trepedations this week thinking about speaking to elementary school age children. I am an experienced speaker but my audiences have largely been only adults. I have had very few experiences speaking to groups of children.
When I arrived at the school and met Mrs. Burbank, she handed me a list she had compiled of the children’s questions including, “How did you become a writer so fast? What made you think of the kindness you did? How old were you when you wrote the book? How did you come up with this good idea? Is it hard to be a writer? What was the hardest mitzvah to do? Why did you start a blog?” Wow, thoughtful and inquisitive questions. I hoped I’d be able to answer them all.
When the kids returned from recess and quietly walked to their desks eyes fixed on me, I continued to be nervous. But then I began to share my story and tried to tie it back to them and make it relevant to their age and interests. They continued to ask other questions (always a great sign) and at the end of the hour they gave me a book of their own “mitzvahs” or acts of kindness.
What I realized from this hour spent in the classroom is how awesome it is to engage with this age group. They are so curious and thoughtful. They take everything in and have so much to offer and share. If we want to create a world where we are givers and doers our children are the perfect place to start. They are eager and notice the opportunities to do something kind. Mrs. Burbank’s classroom of students reminded me that children are the biggest treasures we have in this world. Instead of being afraid to speak to other children I am thrilled and excited for future speaking opportunities to other groups of children. It is our responsibility as parents to teach our children so many things in life but it is also our duty to learn from them and allow their brilliant, unfettered light to shine brightly on all of us.
Thank you Mrs. Burbank for opening up your classroom to me today. It was truly my honor to spend time with all of you!