Helping Out in School

Posted on September 6, 2012


Last night I went to sleep troubled about a situation with one of my children, wondering how I could best help him in his struggle to find his own path. This morning I awakened from a helpful dream.

I had gone to school to help out with a Kindergarten class (not something I’ve often done – I’ve felt school operated in a different zone than I did so I supported what happened there from home instead of muddling things by attending and making unhelpful suggestions.) Another parent had also come and she commented, apologetically but not as she held her little boy’s hand closely, that she was one of “those” mommies who came to school and would be sitting in the  back of the class today. I felt a little sorry for the teacher, but she smiled unconcerned as she handed me a stack of keys with paper name tags.

The teacher explained to the class that she had placed a shoe for each of them in their treasure box, and that she had the key that would open it. They came up one by one and received the key from her. Holding my stack of keys with names written carefully on the attached papers, I thought, “I don’t know these children; I better spread these out so that I can more easily find their keys when they begin coming to me.”

As the teacher completed her orderly dispensing of keys, not even looking at the stack in her hand as she handed them out, they did begin coming to me. At first I thought all the keys might be the same and that was why the teacher didn’t need to look at them before giving them out. I looked down at mine and was comparing keys when a little girl came and stood patiently waiting. I looked blankly at the keys I’d spread out in front of me. (Definitely the feeling I had when my oldest little girl went through this transition).

Finally I said that she’d have to choose hers because she would recognize her own name. She did and returned to her desk. As the next, a little boy, came to me, I suddenly understood that the teacher had placed all the keys in order and the children were coming to her in order because she had established a precedent of doing things in that order. If I had simply waited and started handing them the keys as they came to me, there would have been no confusion, for the children or for me. I looked up and caught the teacher’s eye, and she responded, smiling, knowing, to my sudden epiphany.

Our Heavenly Parents are mindful of the lessons that they would teach our transitioning-to-adulthood children, hiding them in structured activities much like a joyful and safe Kindergarten classroom. Shoes represent our approach to life, and finding one shoe, a new or simply different shoe, is like finding a growing confidence and sense of personal identity as roles begin to change. This transitional period, an earthly Kindergarten, when we help our children enter adulthood, is still our Heavenly Parents’ classroom – indeed, the rest of their school experience will be handled by organized Teachers and we will be classroom assistants.

We may be tempted to think that we have to figure this out quickly as we help out in their learning, but there is an order to both their lessons and our assistance. As they must trust the structure of their growth experiences, so must we, and not entirely muddle things by jumping in too quickly without considering that order. The Teacher, our Heavenly Parent, prepared for the lesson.

Other things were clear to me as well:

  • The keys to unlocking our children’s identities and personal approach to life are unique – there is no master key that will work for all of them.
  • The Teacher has given us keys to help our children. They may only help our children, and what keys work for one will not likely work for the others.
  • Take a deep breath and don’t scramble the keys. The one that comes soonest to mind is probably theirs.
  • They will have to open the treasure box – we only help by giving them the key that Someone with a lesson plan has designed just for them.
  • Parenting is collaborative work. We’re helping out in someone else’s classroom – an easy thing to forget.
  • They are still our children, however, and they “come home at night” after school to the home they’ve been nurtured within. We will be collaborators with the Teachers for many years.
  • Wise (not hovering) parents sometimes go to class and sit in the back, just watching the charming lessons their children are receiving so they will know what is going on.
  • As we help transition them from our home to their own school experience – Kindergarten – we need to trust that the activities are gentle and structured, meant to be joyful, and carefully controlled. Kindergarten is fun!
  • Only one shoe is in the box; they’re wearing the other one. Much of their identity and approach to life is already set as they begin this schooling experience on their own. What they discover will match what they already have.
  • The discovery of that identity is a treasure and will make them feel complete and confident to move forward. It was a good activity for a Heavenly Parent to structure at the beginning of the Kindergarten experience.
  • The Teacher understands and can work with both hovering and muddling parents, and I’ve been both. Relaxing sigh.

I am continually gladdened by dreams that comfort and give direction. What a gift to have Heavenly Parents who truly are in charge, who are willing to collaborate with us in the teaching of our children.

One quick aside: I have a friend who is a Kindergarten teacher, and on whom I think this dream was modeled. She does not do this work because she has to; she comments often that she is a teacher because this is her hobby. She is the best Kindergarten teacher I’ve ever seen. If she is like Heavenly Mother, a wonderful teacher with parent experience, then I am made more confident in the Teacher I’m collaborating with now.

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