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CJ Heck

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Children as Our Teachers
By CJ Heck
Monday, May 30, 2011

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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We're never done learning ...

Most of life's lessons we thankfully learn through those older, wiser and more learned than we are. But, we also stumble along collecting more valuable tidbits through trial and error, and even more from bumps and bruises of experience on our long journey to becoming adults. When we become parents, the baton is ceremonially passed, whether we're ready to run with it or not. Then, drawing on everything we know, have learned, or ever experienced, we evolve into the first of the many teachers our children will learn from on their own journey to becoming adults.

What is amazing is that some of the most valuable lessons I've ever learned came from the children I love most and was entrusted to teach ... my own. One of the most important lessons I've ever learned came from my oldest daughter, Carrie, when she was just five years old. Like most parents, my protective instinct was highly developed -- I would have given my life for my children. Thank God, that was never necessary, but here is what I learned:

We were living at the time in a neighborhood in Elmhurst, Illinois. My two oldest daughters, Beth, three, and Carrie, five, played with two little neighbor girls of about the same ages, who lived directly across the street from us. Their mother, Jane, and I were friends and we took turns having the girls play at our houses.

On one particular day, Carrie was riding her bike with training wheels on the sidewalk across the street with her friend who was on her own bike. From time to time, I looked out my front window, just to make sure everything was okay. I was happy to see Jane on her front porch, also keeping a protective eye on them.

At one point, I noticed one of the young neighborhood boys walking with his mother towards the girls. The boy was known to be very rough and most of the children in the neighborhood had experienced his bullying at one time or another. I felt the girls would be safe, but as a precaution, I kept my eye on them, especially Carrie, by peeking out my front window every few minutes.

As the two mothers were talking, I watched the little boy walk over to Carrie on her bike. He put his hand on her handlebars and tugged hard on the bike. Carrie said something to him as she struggled to keep her balance on the seat, but he continued to pull on the bike even harder, obviously trying to get her to fall off. Carrie again said something to him and I could see that this time, she was more insistent. My motherly instincts took over and I ran to get my sneakers.

As I hurriedly jammed my second sneaker on and was tying it, I peeked out again. Carrie was now off her bike, looking up at the boy and saying something to him. Suddenly, he punched her. Like a bull, I saw red! I was on my feet and heading for the door. In the instant that I opened the inside door, and looked out the screen, I saw the most surprising thing. Carrie decked him! I watched as he fell backwards onto the grass, holding his hand over his nose. I stood in the doorway watching with my mouth open, my chin, I'm sure, was on the floor. Then very calmly, Carrie walked over to the boy, put out her hand, and helped him up.

As hard as it had been for me to watch, I had learned something that day from my five-year-old: children must be allowed to stand up for themselves and fight their own battles. As a mother, I felt proud and so very humbled by her confidence, her fairness, and her actions. It was a lesson neither of us would ever forget.

Carrie is now a grown woman, the mother of two little boys, and to this day, remains one of my most valued teachers ...

       Web Site: Barking Spiders Poetry for Children

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Reviewed by J Howard 6/2/2011
several valuable lessons are woven into this story-
thanks for sharing,
Reviewed by Karen Vanderlaan 5/31/2011
What a wonderful story, so well told. I am also blessed to learn from children, my own as well as those I teach.
Reviewed by Felix Perry 5/30/2011
Yes I also agree, although most schools these days are opting for a zero tolerence policy to any type of violence I find it sad that a sometimes innocent child who does little more than defend themselves are expelled and punished the same as the bullies.

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