Recently, I got called a name. Even though I am an adult, it stuck with me. The words were uttered by a stranger, yet they had more of an impact than if they had been said by a close friend.
She called me a good mom.
Those two words carried me through the whole weekend and beyond. Granted, she was a stranger. She caught me in one of my better moments and she minimal context for her statement. But, I’ll take it.
The girl and I were walking through the mall. It was a more upscale mall than the one in our town. She needed shoes and the kids’ shoe store was located in this particular mall. I had anticipated being in and out in under 30 minutes. We didn’t have anywhere else to be, but we had already been to the doctor’s office and Target, so I assumed the girl was about done.
We got in and out of the shoe store with minimal tears (nothing she wanted was in her size) and then headed out into the mall area. The mall was filled with enticing sights and adventures: the escalators, the fountain for throwing pennies, the skylights, the big chairs to sit and rest, the closed up store with its dark curtains enticing you to wonder what was coming next, the indoor play space, and finally, the idea that we would be eating in the mall.
We were there for over 2 hours.
The lady’s comment came as we were walking toward lunch. The girl is too heavy to carry, she refuses to hold my hand, and she spent so much of her very early years refusing to leave my side, I let her go as often as I can. This however, does require a lot of extra time to get to any destination. Two-and-a-half-year-old feet only travel so fast when there is so much to see.
Two women were in the mall walkway having a conversation. As we walked by (slowly), the one woman remarked about how I was such a good mom because I had so much patience for this journey. I smiled and we went along on our way.
When the girl and I started off our mall adventure, we had only one small destination in mind – shoes. After that, everything else was just a part of the journey. Fortunately, the journey is where some of the best things happen.
She learned how to ride an escalator.
She learned how to be flexible in picking other shoes.
She learned how to say thank you to people who help you.
She learned to appreciate the world around you when no one else does.
In the classroom, when our end product doesn’t turn out the way we hoped, or we’re not sure whether a lesson was effective, take a step back and think of the journey the students were on. What were the parts along the way that were great? How can we focus on the things that went well along the way while working towards a new destination?