It seems that some of the pressure has been relieved in my big ol’ head, which means that my focus can shift back to the things that make my smile widest. Namely them:
So today is going to be blog light. As in, there will be lots of cute pictures of kids that I recommend getting to know. I’m going to tell you the four reasons why Day of the Child 2015 was grrrreat.
In Honduras, you can swim in your clothes and no one looks at you funny.
And by that I mean, I’m grateful for every chance I get to pack myself and 119 others on a bus made for 90 and watch children whose lives have been far too difficult smile and laugh for ten hours.
I got to facilitate their thank you card writing dreams.
Ok, that one was a joke. Full transparency – Not many eight year olds enjoy writing thank you cards. (Or 12, or 17 year olds.) Actually, I’m pretty sure that I wrote my first one when I was 26. Only kind of kidding. So even though the kids are often verbally grateful, it can be challenging getting to get that down on a piece of a paper. This trip? I was blown away with the ease with which we got (most of) the letters written.
We now have SO MANY good pictures of the kids for new sponsors.
(Yes, that was a plug for the sponsorship program.) But there is more behind that statement that leads to what I’m even more grateful for. You see, good pictures means the child is wearing his best smile along with clothes that fit well and are lacking in holes or stains. And when so many children have that same type of smile at the same time, it’s because of something so much more important. It’s because they feel good about themselves. It’s because they feel normal and worthy and special. All of you who donated towards an outfit were part of making this happen. And I loved getting to see all those smiling faces.
I had some good opportunities to fight and make up.
You think I kid….but I don’t. (I mean, I totally kid, I’m just not kidding at this particular moment.) Conflict is an unfortunate but guaranteed part of life. And one handles conflict best when s/he learns how to deal with it within a safe relationship. There were two kids who make some huge strides in the conflict area this trip.
For YEARS (I kid you not…years) I’ve been working with him about how he communicates what he wants. Usually, he demands it. His most frequent demand is for a birthday gift, even when the birthday is 10 months away. And when I explain why I don’t have a gift, he gets angry and becomes incredibly rude the rest of my trip as he repetitively demands a birthday gift any time I’m within earshot. There’s a constant background hum of ” Y mi regalo? Y mi regalo? Y mi regalo? Y mi regalo? ymiregaloymiregaloymiregaloymireg….” You understand how this can get tiring, right?
On clothes day, he needed to change his shoes for a different size. I couldn’t do it at the exact moment he wanted me to and the dark clouds were a-comin. The surly attitude was taking control and the demand was getting repetitive. I stopped for a second and said, “I want to help you with your shoes, but I’m not going to as long as you have that attitude I’m seeing.” Suddenly, the switch flipped. He was able to gain control of the attitude and the impatience. And.he.waited. This…was a miracle. AND a chance for me to spend the next week gushing to him about how great he was at clothes exchanging time. Have we turned a corner and has he learned the benefits of some self-control? Gosh I hope so.
Remember how earlier I wrote that MOST of the kids wrote letters easily? Yeah. I left the country without a thank you letter from him. It was so strange. He’s one of the kids I’m closest to. But on letter writing day? He was…trying. And my patience was….non-existent. So I got frustrated, which made him more stubborn, which made me short tempered, which made him belligerent and ended with me wrenching the card out of his hand and him stomping across the field in a huff. (Not my finest moment.)
He wouldn’t speak to me for days until I was saying my final goodbyes. He was hovering nearby, but would huff away again every time I approached. I couldn’t leave the country with this hanging between us so I cornered him, wrapped him in a bear hug and quickly said “I was mad at you the other day, but I hope you know that the love I have for you is much bigger than one bad day.” He melted, wrapped his arms around me and the tears began to flow. Over and over he said “I’m so sorry I didn’t write the letter.” I apologized for my lack of patience, saying that I was already short tempered, but shouldn’t have taken it out on him. He said “When you took the card away from me, your face was so angry.”
Ugh. Again, that was so not my finest moment. But…it’s ridiculous to think that I could be perfectly kind and patient all the time. I never want to hurt him, but I do love that when we both did some things wrong, he had the humility to apologize and the confidence to tell me how my (very wrong) actions made him feel. It’s these little skills that will help him build strong, healthy relationships as he grows which is what I so long for them all to have.
Day of the Child 2015? Success. But, I can’t fully explain the experience with words alone…You’ll just have to check it out for yourself next year!