While I mostly work with students in middle school or high school, I will occasionally teach students as old as college and as young as kindergarten. Last spring I was asked to work with the baby brother of an existing student who was a rising first grader. I was pleasantly surprised by his excitement and eagerness. I forgot just how fun kids this age can be. Most weeks he runs to my car and can’t wait to tell me what he was been learning in school. I typically end up laughing so hard that I have to remind myself that I am his academic coach not a playmate. I love kids. Plain and simple.
This past week we were coming to the end of our session, and I began to crumple up what I thought was an old piece of notebook paper in his book bag. He screamed for me not to mess it up because he needed it to write a note to a friend. He explained that he had a disagreement in the beginning of the year with one of his classmates, a young lady, and he wanted to be friends again. He wrote,
Ms. Meg how do you spell, “sorry?”
I am sorry for my…….
Ms. Meg how do you spell “problems?”
I am sorry for my problems.
I asked him if he meant behavior, and he told me yes, so we changed his note to:
I am sorry for my behavior.
I found myself reflecting on our exchange over the next day. I thought to myself…. maybe I should have let him use his own words, and I realized that this is really what most of us adults need to be willing to say. Yes, it’s our behavior that people see, but it’s our problems that often cause the behavior which either intentionally or unintentionally often hurts others. Since we all have them, it might make it easier to be compassionate towards our fellow man. Getting along with others can get complicated and confusing, but at the end of the day many times we simply need to say….I am sorry for my problems.
As is often the case, the teacher was taught by the student. Thanks, Bryson.