Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Lessons

It has been quite a long time since I last posted. I've thought about it, but nothing seemed significant enough to post, or the times when I would mentally begin composing something, it always ended up  sounding too whiney. Today was different. Today Abby taught me three important lessons and, considering what has been happening in our world, I thought everyone could use a few reminders that joy and kindness still abound.

Lesson #1: A new day is exciting, so begin each day with anticipation.

This morning I woke up with a hacking cough. The cold that had been brewing had finally settled in my chest - and I was miserable. Even though I hate missing school, I called a sub and settled in to spend the day resting. Now, usually I'm the first one to leave the house in the morning and dad has the task of getting Abby on the bus. This morning I assured Jason, that even with my cough, I could handle it. Abby was ready to go in no time at all and as we walked outside she said, "Whew! It's cold! Let's get in the car!" I told her that was a great idea. We climbed into the car and I fired up the heater as she, with her Miss Piggy puppet on her hand, sang and danced to the music. I watched her and began to think, What if I started each day with the enthusiasm that Abby does? She was just so happy to be heading to school with Miss Piggy - such a simple thing. Her excitement escalated when she saw the bus pull up. She let out a whoop and yelled, "My bus is here!"

Once she was out of the car she danced the whole way down the driveway, singing about how excited she was to be going to school. She greeted her bus driver with an exuberant "Good morning!" and I watched Ms. Cathy's smile widen. Abby was bubbling over with joy and those around her couldn't help but be affected.

Lesson #2: Kindness is recognized and appreciated.

Monday night Abby had her school Christmas program. She was totally geeked! In fact, that morning, when she woke up, she immediately insisted that the program should come first in her day, "and then school."

She ended up doing a great job singing with her classmates. There was one song though that had me laughing. Some of the kids were wearing a garland "necklace" and there was one little guy standing in front of Abby who kept pushing his back so it fell down his back, instead of his front. Abby, in an effort to help him, kept readjusting it so that it would lay right. I watched her time and again arrange it and "pat" it into place, just to see him push it back and start the game all over. I couldn't help but think about what a little mommy she was being, and that the little boy had the patience of a saint. Eventually she just gave up.

This afternoon when I went to pick Abby up from school, a woman stopped me. "Are you Abby's mom?" she asked. At my assurance that I was she introduced herself. She told me that her son was the little guy that Abby was helping throughout the concert. She had been watching from her seat hoping that her son, who she assured me was short on patience, wouldn't turn around and wallop the sweet little girl trying to help him out. After the concert she'd talked with her son and he'd told her very frankly, "Mom, I was the one playing with it, she was trying to help me out." She went on to tell me that as they were saying their nightly prayers he mentioned how "sweet" Abby was, and then promptly covered his head with his blankets, as if he were embarrassed. She couldn't get over how very sweet the whole thing was. 

The funny thing was, while it was happening I was hoping his parents weren't irritated that the kid behind him wouldn't leave him alone. That couldn't have been farther from the truth. In the end it became a chance for two parents to witness the tenderness of their children. I was reminded once again, how Abby's innate compassion allows her to spread joy to others by simple acts of kindness.

Lesson #3: Let others see the joy in you.

My last lesson came at dance class tonight. It has been a long few weeks with Christmas preparations and such, and by the time we got to dance I think we were both a bit spent. Watching through the glass partition, I saw Abby separate herself from the class and plop down in front of the mirror. She proceeded to cover her face and take the posture of "I don't wanna," which we see from time to time. Instead of walking in there for a pep talk, I quietly asked the teacher if I could just sit inside the studio and watch. The minute I plopped down against the wall, my little performer perked right up and headed happily back to her spot. She now had an audience and all was right with the world.

The best part for me was not that she was participating. No, the best part for me was that I had a front row seat to her joy. She radiated it. As the class did The Hokey Pokey and The Chicken Dance Abby simply bubbled over with happiness, and as soon as Mrs. Katie turned on YMCA, she literally shook with excitement. She turned to me and said, "Mom! Mom! YMCA! Y-M-C-A!!!" I can't remember the last time I was that excited about anything, let alone a song. As she was dancing I was lucky enough to snap a picture at just the right moment - catching all that happiness. That picture is so essentially Abby, and was the perfect final lesson for the day. There is so much to be joyful about (even if it's just a favorite song), so why not let it show?


Tonight, as we were getting ready for bed, Abby said, "Mom, I'm so excited about tomorrow!", which is something she says nearly every night. I did what was expected and asked, "Why?", but this time as she happily said, "I have school tomorrow!" I let that sink in a bit. Abby is genuinely excited because she gets to do it all again tomorrow.

Abby is a gift in many ways - to many people. I'm thankful that today I took the time to really see her joy and hopefully learn a few lessons of my own.


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