Friday, November 7, 2008

Fanning the flames of life

I told my preschool students they were “on fire” today. Class was almost over, I was caught up in their interest and enthusiasm, we were engrossed in an amazing discussion. The words left my mouth and everything stopped. I realized my students were staring at me in confusion, turning to one another for clarification.


“We’re on fire?”

My bad… After clarifying that no one was on fire, I explained that I meant their brains were working hard and full of incredible thoughts. Their little faces lit up, all was right in the four-year-old world, life carried on.

I re-learned a lesson though--one phrase, meant well, misinterpreted, can crush a great moment. How many times do we say one thing and people think we mean another? More importantly, how many times are we unaware of this fact?

The great thing about little kids is they don’t leave you twisting in the wind. Via body language, words, tears, they react immediately to the world around them, giving you clear signals regarding their feelings.

When a child opens his lunch box, views chicken nuggets and dissolves into uncontrollable tears, there’s no doubt his parents are in the proverbial doghouse. Personally, the nuggets smelled great--I was really hungry. But when the child criticized his parents that evening, I didn’t want to diminish the impact of congealed chicken and the sound of his little tummy growling...

I do think we all need to give each other a break. When in doubt, speak out. Harboring hurt feelings, confusion, anger, mistrust, only destroys relationships. When someone tells you you’re “on fire”, ask them what the heck they’re talking about. If you really are going up in flames, you’ll be glad you asked :)

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