Friday, January 12, 2007

It Takes a Village

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Sometimes, I think we parents forget about the village and take it for granted.

The older gentleman down the street that smiles at our children as they walk by.

The neighbor who kindly offers them cookies when they come to play with her children.

The woman in the craft store who indulges them with a treat when they visit.

There are those in the village that do more, who work or look after our children every single day. In their own unassuming way, unwanting of recognition or praise, they plod along day after day to do one thing:

Make a difference to our children.

Among the diapers, the feedings, the reading, gym class dance and karate lessons, they see our kids at their best, and also at their worst. They deal with us parents as we occasionally shove our feet in our mouth or disagree with their tactics. We, of course, know our children best. Sometimes too well. Our love for our kids can make us emotional and put blinders on us to the reality of our kid's needs.

We parents should be grateful for these other villagers; however we often forget that while working with our children may be their job, it takes a very special person to really impart a difference onto a child. A simple word of encouragement, a warm smile, and pat on the back ripples not just through the child, but the family. Suddenly parents who are anxious about their children relax, as they realize this is a good place and that this person really has their child's best interests at heart. After all, we only want someone to love our kids even just a smidgen of how we do. There are those that go above and beyond the confines of a 'job' and very gently, help to mold our kids in a way that shapes the adults that they eventually become. They let our kids know that the universe has no bounds and cheer as they reach for the stars. They raise them up to reach for more then they ever thought possible and encourage them to become the best they can be.

We had an adult in our life like that.

Who taught Jake the important things in life:

-play outside while the sun is shining
-appreciate music (especially the Beatles) and sing when you can
-get the work done, but make sure to spend time with your family

The one who never wanted praise and who smiled with embarressment when it was heaped upon them, for we were so grateful to have this adult in Jake's life at a time when our whole family felt broken and spent. This adult, in their own special way, helped our family heal. Not by preforming grand acts to be noticed by everyone, mind you. They did it just by going to work every day and being their kind, patient selves. By helping to mend my son's heart, his trust in adults, and his self esteem.

Tragically, we lost that member of our village just recently. While today has been a day of many tears and sad, burdened hearts, we've reminded Jake of the memories. The good times. Once the tears had dried a little, what did he decide to do? Go outside and play "in the sun because it makes my heart feel better." On the way out the door, he paused.

"Can we buy a Beatles CD? I would like one to remember." I couldn't help but smile. Maybe we'll make a collection, you know, a little of Kenny Loggins "Return to Pooh Corner" and some Beatles.

Because more then anything, we were so grateful to have you in our lives, and we'll miss you more then you'll ever know.

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