I went to the elementary school one morning before work to finish the registration process for my youngest daughter, Sydney. She’ll be in third grade this year. That’s hard to imagine, but alas this is our fourth time to register at this school. I was just going to go alone and then to work. However, Sydney woke up and wanted to tag along to see if any of her friends were there. We did the usual – went through the line from one station to the next. In the gym near the stage was the same table as each year before it – PTA.
I don’t really have the time to be involved in PTA, but I do buy a membership each year. It’s a small way to contribute and our PTA does an excellent job at our school. I filled out the information and paid my $5.50 membership fee for the year before we moved on to another room for more paperwork to be checked. As we were in yet another line, Sydney asked me what the PTA was. I explained to her that it is an organization that supports the school through programs and events. They help buy school supplies for each class. They support teachers by providing breakfasts for birthdays and holidays. They use fundraisers to buy equipment for the school. They produce and sell the elementary school yearbooks. She looked at me with a smile and said “good job, Mom. I’m proud of you for paying to be part of that.”
It was a simple thing to do, but it struck me how Sydney viewed it. She didn’t see it as only 3 minutes of my time and paying a fee less than lunch would cost. She saw it as contributing to her school community.
This can be said of so many things we do. We seem to waste so much of our time worrying about what we get wrong with our kids. Did we say the hard things well? Did we raise our voices too much? Did we let too much slide? Did they have a good, fulfilling summer? Are they getting enough experiences? Will they be ready for life after high school or college?
I was talking to a longtime friend recently and she told me about an article that stated kids usually remember the smallest things and tend to look right past the ones we think are big. I think that’s so true. I remember my mom chasing me with the vacuum cleaner and making the chore a game. She’d chase us and tell us we better hop up on the couch, bed or table so the monster didn’t eat our toes. When she got past that spot, she’d tell us to hurry up and run to another spot. When the washer would get unbalanced and shake uncontrollably, my mom would hop up on the washing machine with me and say we were on a rocket ship. That maybe happened twice, but I remember it like it was a daily routine. Yes, there were big arguments and difficulties. I remember some of it, but not like I remember sitting on that washing machine with my mom. Yes, I remember small, fun things about my mom. I also remember her passion in standing up for people of varying education and abilities are strong. I remember her buying me extra school supplies and telling me to subtly share with those students who didn’t have any. I remember her telling me not to talk about or make fun of two kids in our class with lice. I remember her allowing my friends and me to each lunch in her classroom so we could relax for 25 minutes. I remember her cooking for countless friends. I remember her bringing my best friend with us on our vacations. I took notice of what she thought were simple things.
So what are your kids noticing? They are watching. They see you use a week’s worth of vacation to volunteer at their summer church camp. They see you getting to church early to help set up snacks or greet those entering church. They see you stop in the hallway and pick up a piece of trash that was left behind by someone else. They see you say hi to the older person in the grocery store who is probably going home to an empty house. They see you pay for the $1 drink of someone behind you in line. They see you make up a song about chores. They see you send $3 extra for a field trip so another child can also attend.
They might not tell you that they are proud of you, but they are. So hold up your head today. You are doing better than you think.