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A Very Important And Humbling Life Lesson

By on March 27, 2019 in Spiritual Awakening
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A Very Important And Humbling Life Lesson

by Danni Rae,
Contributing Writer, In5D.com

I’m a middle school teacher and I love my kids, but it’s not always sunshine and roses dealing with teenagers. I had a kid in class, we will call him “Sam”. He was not a great student. He was a tough one to deal with. From the first day we met, I had to endure eye rolls, sarcastic comments, the occasional cuss out, and the never ending “I hate this class, and I hate school and I hate YOU”. On a regular basis he would be angry, flip desks, and kick the wall. It was very tiring. I tried to like him but this kid was really working my nerves. I ended up really not liking him and dreading when I saw him because I already knew there was going to be conflict. When he was absent, I would silently cheer to myself because I got a break. In fact, I hate to admit it but most of the time, I just sent him out of my class because he was so awful to deal with.

One day, through his friends, I found out he was into soccer, so I came up with a “brilliant” idea (Don’t judge please because at the time, it seemed great).   My “plan” was I would go over to his coach and tell him the troubles I was having and see if the coach could help me get Sam “straightened out” (yes I know this is not my proudest moment or best idea).

I tried to talk to his parents but honestly, I don’t think they cared much. In fact, I don’t think they were around much. Like ever. At all. The admin was no help. Their attitude was “You handle it, we are tired of this kid”.

Anyways, I had it all worked out in my head. I had a great plan, his coach would hear my complaints, the coach would talk to Sam and maybe put some pressure on him to act better in school. That was a good “plan” or so I thought…

So, I went to the soccer field. Plan in mind. Ready to march over to the coach to unload some major negativity. The game had 10 minutes left, so I sat to watch.

Here is where pure universal magic happened.

Sam saw me in the crowd. He got a huge grin. At first, I did not realize it was for me. He looked right at me and smiled. That was the first time I had ever seen him smile, much less at me. Usually, our class time was spent with him cursing me out or rolling his eyes, so this was new. As soon as the game finished, he ran over to me and him and I had the following conversation:

Sam: Hi Ms. Danni!!!! I’m so glad you came to my game! I’m really happy you are here! You are the first person to ever come see me play! My mom and dad never come. Did you see the goal I scored? Did you think I did good?

First of all, if you have not been around 13 year old boys, the fact he even came up to me outside of school is a HUGE deal, because anyone over the age of 18 is automatically uncool and old. Figuring I’m almost 40, AND his teacher, I’m definitely not someone on his “cool” list.

So, I immediately felt like a complete a*hole.

This was where my “plan” completely fell apart, in an instant.

I looked him in the eyes. He was genuinely happy I was there!

THIS was my aha moment!

When I looked at him— really looked at him from a soul perspective. I didn’t see an “irritating kid” or a “behavior challenged”.  I didn’t see a “brat who tried to ruin my day” by acting up.

Do you know what I saw?

I saw a young kid who desperately wanted— no NEEDED to be loved, valued, and positively praised. I saw a kid who wanted to make me proud, who so desperately wanted someone to see him in a good light. I saw a kid who was STARVED for love and attention. I saw a young man HAPPY that I was there. A kid who was never taught the right social skills to deal with school. A kid who had no adult attention at home.

He then asked me:

Why did you come to see me play?

(I couldn’t face the truth which was, “No, I actually came to complain to coach about what a pain in my ass you have been”) so I swallowed a huge piece of humble pie, dug deep and smiled. I told him, “Of course I came to see you play because all your friends told me how awesome of a player you are“.

At that moment, he literally glowed. I have heard the expression “beaming with pride” -well, he was the definition. I had never seen him happy. Usually, he was getting fussed at. Not this time. He was getting positive feedback and it literally as well as physically showed!

When I asked where his coach was, his face immediately fell. “It’s because you want to tell him I’m bad, huh?” Now, I really felt like a jerk.

I told him he wasn’t “bad” and I actually wanted to congratulate the coach on having such a great player and if there was anything I could do to help. I said to the coach right in front of Sam,

“This is such a great kid- you are so lucky to have him on your team.”

Once I said this, Sam started crying (in a good way). Then, he turned to me (in front of his coach) and said,

“I’m sorry I act a fool in class. Sometimes I just don’t understand what you are teaching- I didn’t think you liked me.”

Wow, that was NOT what I expected. I explained to him that I DO like him, very much actually. I told him I was glad I got to see his game. He told me he would try harder. I talked to his coach to see how to positively reward Sam when he was good. We agreed on some ways to work together to reinforce positive behavior This was a big change from my original plan.

Turning a negative into a positive focus.

I have also committed myself to showing Sam what a healthy way of dealing with stress looks like, and modeling/showing positive social skills. These last few weeks since this his behavior in class have been amazing. Sam has come in with a good attitude and works harder then ever. He is much more respectful and he ALWAYS says good morning (even though he’s not my first class).  He asks questions when he doesn’t understand and makes a point to tell me when he’s playing his next game. I told him that I can’t go to ALL of his games but we agreed on a few that I would make. He even put them in his calendar. He told me he “looks forward” to seeing me there. He’s happy in class. He seems more confident. I make a point every day to say at least one personal positive thing to him (and ALL my students).  There are days where I gotta dig deep, but it is worth it.

My big takeaway from this is:

Relationships matter.

Personal relationships are important!

Unconditional love matters.

Positivity matters.

Finding POSITIVE over negative matters.

Sometimes, you have to dig deep. When you look for bad, you get bad. When you see good, you get good. What could have been another irritating student and tough challenge in a continuous loop and awful cycle is now one of my best behaved students.

Why?

Because in a moment of choice, I chose POSITIVE over NEGATIVE.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Choose better.

Your thoughts matter. Choose love. Choose to see the good in people. Always. No.matter what, at ANY age. You will be amazed at how quickly things can change. Not just change, but transform for the better.

I’m grateful for Sam showing me this and giving me the opportunity to change myself as well as helping me to realize the power of my intentions. If I view things as negative or positive, it matters.

Choose positive!

Danni Rae,

Image: Pixabay

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