I have no children of my own- at least not biologically.
I am blessed to have children by proxy. I’ve known M. and her family for 17 years, since their first child, S. was born. I’ve been honored to help care for S. and her sister M.,and to share in their lives in an ongoing and meaningful way for all of this time.
In fact, S. was my “first baby.”.. I couldn’t love her or respect her more if she was my very own child, and yet our relationship has sometimes challenged me and pushed me to my limits. We have struggled through together. It was S. who cried when I left to live and work in California, but it was her sister M. who always welcomed me back into the fold with open arms and an open heart.
After being away for almost 10 years , I moved back to my home in Cambridge, MA, and once again became a daily part of M. and S.’s lives. Of course both girls were teenagers now , not the little girls (ages two and six) that I had left. so many years ago. In the years I was away, I had to content myself with weekly phone calls, and not frequent enough visits, to keep involved in their lives.
Long story short, I’ve been home for two years now, and both girls just celebrated amazing milestones this past week- S. graduated from high-school and M. from the 8th grade. I was honored to be able to attend both ceremonies, along with their parents and grandparents.
Of course, I GAVE gifts, but I also received one that I never expected. M. and I often engage in deep conversation and sometimes heated debate on any number of subjects. My once adoring girl was often heard quoting one of her favorite teachers during these interchanges. It was, “Ms. S. this and Ms. S. that”, and while I was thrilled that she had such a wonderful role model and mentor, I sometimes felt a little left out….
I’d met many of M.’s teachers throughout the years, but had never laid eyes on Ms. S. so I took the opportunity to introduce myself after M.’s graduation ceremony.
Much to my surprise, I’d barely finished saying “My name is Lisa and I’m M.’s … ” before Ms. S. embraced me and uttered words to the effect of , “So you are M.’s Lisa ! I feel as if I know you already, because M. talks about you so often in class ! ” It’s Lisa this and Lisa that, and Lisa made me think… “.
I was in shock and told Ms. S. that at home it was, ” Ms. S. this and Ms. S. that,” which is why I felt compelled to meet her and thank her !
Needless to say, I was near tears. I was so touched. And I was reminded of the importance of never, never underestimating the impact my words and actions could have upon a child.
So, to parents of toddlers and teenagers: it may seem like your children are not paying attention, and/or disregarding everything you have to say – but it’s not true. Keep trusting them, respecting them , listening to them, and talking with them – even if it seems they are dismissing your every word and gesture. It can and does make a difference !