My daughter is in grade 4, and in grade 4 the children learn how to prepare and present a speech on a topic of their choice. My daughter has been thinking about this speech for many months - anticipating the moment her teacher would announce, "Okay class, this week we are going to begin preparing a speech that you will present in front of your classmates...3 winners will be chosen to then present in the gym in front of the school".
The day it was announced, my daughter came home with a nervous expression across her face.
"She said we don't HAVE to write a long speech...we can write a short speech, a poem, or make a Power Point presentation....but the only way to make it to the gym is to write a long speech. Will you be upset if I don't write a long speech, Mommy"?
"No", I replied, "of course not...BUT...I think you should think about at least trying...nothing bad can come of trying, right"?
So off she went to her room to think. She always needs this quiet, alone time to think things through.
"Mommy", she said as she approached me in the kitchen. "I think I've decided to do the long speech to see if I can make it to the gym".
So then came the topic. Very quickly she decided to choose "Natural Remedies" as her topic. It was a topic she knew her Mommy and Daddy would know a lot about, and it was something different that most wouldn't discuss. Within a few days the speech was written and the practising and memorizing began.
Up to her room she'd go to "present" in front of her stuffed animals. Each evening she'd do this, and then finish off with one more round in front of her Daddy and I.
By speech day she was fully prepared - and nervous - and excited.
She was so proud that evening when it was all done - well, quietly proud, the way she always is.
Days later she came barrelling out of school with a smile almost as big as her face. "Mommy, Mommy, guess what? I made it to a SPEECH OFF in front of the class with five other students"!
This meant that her teacher couldn't choose 3 winners from the class, so she'd need to hear 6 speeches again to make her final decision. A couple of days later, she would present in front of her peers again. She was so excited to have this opportunity to possibly make it to the gym. But that Tuesday afternoon, when she came home after learning the results from the speech off, she cried, "I didn't make it". And just like any other Mom, your heart drops and you hug your child and hope that a snuggle and kiss on the head will make her feel better. But it doesn't. So up to her room she went where she cried to her Bear while I sat on the couch and listened.
That evening while chatting with her about her day, I said that the main thing was that she TRIED. She tried and made it as far as the "speech off". THAT was something big to be proud of. I said that the next morning she needed to go into her class and become a "coach" of sorts to those who did make it to the gym and needed practice. She knew that one boy in particular was very nervous, so I said it would be nice to offer help to him in ways of being a "listener". She loved that idea and proudly walked into school the next morning ready to help if need be.
We have friends who share our interest in natural remedies and if fact they are the people who initially inspired us to look at what we eat and put into our bodies on a daily basis. They have shared many of their thoughts on nutrition, and what's great is that they don't expect others to take on their ideas...they encourage you to form your own with the information that is available. So we have. We have read, and read, and read some more...and we have agreed with some things and disagreed with others. We've picked and chosen what works for our small family.
This friend was someone who I shared my daughter's "speech story" with as I know she and her husband would appreciate that our daughter had absorbed all this information and was developing a passion for health. It was so exciting to hear our daughter come home from school and say, "One of the boys went home and told his Mommy and Daddy about the natural remedies we use for colds and his Daddy said they might try them next time they are sick" Her speech didn't only reach out to some of the classmates, but also to their parents!
SO, this is where we get to the title of this blog post...World Changer. When I wrote an e-mail to this Mom who has inspired us these past few years, telling her that our daughter didn't make it to "the gym" and was disappointed, the Mom wrote me back later that night and told me to let my daughter know she was proud of her and that she is a "world changer". She then told my daughter in person the next day after school, and it stuck.
When we have children, we hope they will be respectful and kind. We hope they will be sympathetic enough that they can cry with a friend, but strong enough to stand up to the plate once in awhile. We hope they will learn to accept others but be aware of right from wrong. So when my friend called my daughter a world changer, it gave me this overwhelming feeling of "I've done my job". Not because she wrote a great speech, but because she had been able to learn to look past the "who won" aspect of it and instead looked at how she had affected others with her words.
Each and every one of us has little "World Changers" at home. Because every child is capable of kindness, respect and creating new ideas. They may not all be straight A students or top athletes - but they can learn that a simple smile can make another child's day. They can learn that perhaps those 20 Barbies can be divided and 5 can go to charity. They can learn that as they grow older, they shouldn't fear every stranger that crosses their path, and instead greet with a "hello" while in passing. And most importantly, they can learn that the words they choose to use can have a great impact on others.
It's not the marks my daughter brings home from school that tell me "I've done my job" - because she did that on her own. She has a passion for school and with that comes an interest in learning. But she still has her academic struggles from time to time, as most children do. So when that report card comes home, it's not the A's and B's that make me feel proud - it's the words her teacher says to describe my daughter's kindness and willingness to help others. That's when I beam. And that's why my daughter - at the age of 9 - FINALLY just understood the relevance of those "A's and B's". I've always focused on the words and not the letters. I allowed her to figure out the letter grades on her own, because at the end of the day, as long as she has tried her best and put respect first, then THAT is why I think she'll become a World Changer.
Our children are these beautiful little sponges that take in more information than we are aware of. They watch every move we make and listen to every word spoken. It's why my counsellor (who I visited when I was tapering off of Benzodiazepines) taught me not to hide my emotions from my daughter, but to instead explain them to her...because "what you teach her from your fears, frustration and tears, is more than she will ever learn from a textbook". Words well spoken.
"Children seldom misquote. In fact, they usually repeat word for word what you shouldn't have said". ~Author Unknown