Monday, January 10, 2011

Children are Silly Putty: Growing a Heart through Affirmations

Who has never had Silly Putty? That lightly colored piece of dough sold in a plastic egg. It has been around for years and years. Remember how you could cut it with scissors and then press it back together again? Remember how it would pick up the print when pressed onto a piece of newsprint or the funny papers? Remember how you could lay it out on your night stand over night and then find it the next morning so flat that it almost blended into the furniture? Remember after doing each of these things (and many more) that you could just roll it back together again and it looked just like new? It wasn't new, it had been altered but with a little rolling it looked just like it did when it came out of the egg!

Well, after playing with some at school one day, I started thinking about how we are all like Silly Putty. When looking back at our lives, we can all probably remember things that were said, facial expressions that were observed, tones of voices that were heard, nicknames that were called, affirmations that were made to each of us that molded us into the people we are today. Some of these things are positive and some of them are not. We may not even remember who the people were. They may have been insignificant in our lives but their action or words were not. They changed us, molded us but on the outside we still looked the same. Just like the Silly Putty.

I am going to share a couple of memories with you that should have been forgotten or stored way back in the crevices of my mind to never be remembered but they are still there. I have MANY and I know you do too. I was fortunate to have more positive memories than negative and I am grateful to everyone for that.

When I was four years old, like many little girls, my dream was to be a ballerina. I loved the pink tutu and tights. I loved the graceful twirling and the music. I couldn't wait to take lessons!

Well the day finally arrived and I was enrolled in a dance studio. I didn't get to take ballet like I had hoped because ballet was for daintier, more graceful little girls. I was a tall "big-boned" four year old with red hair. I was taught that day that pink tutus would clash with red hair. So I was enrolled in a tap class where I wore a black leotard with light pink tights. Much more becoming.

One class, I was in the back row and was giggling and whispering to my friend next to me and much to my embarrassment, my teacher called me to the front of the class. She called me Rita Beth (I knew I was in trouble when I heard my middle name) asked me to bend over at the waist, gently spanked my bottom and sent me back to my place in line. Now as I returned to line, I forced a slight smile to my lips to hold back the tears of embarrassment. I NEVER spoke a word in that class again.

I don't know the teacher's name, the name of the studio, I wouldn't even recognize her if she walked through the door today, but that definitely impacted me. For years I was known as a shy, quiet girl who wouldn't read loud enough for the teacher to hear her in class.

On the other hand, the memory of my Dad was that he was my never ending encourager. He was blunt, to the point and always said what he meant. I didn't always take it well when it was said but looking back on it they were words of wisdom.

I have many memories of him saying to me things like, Keep it up Rita Beth.~ The sure way to lose is to never try. ~ Never believe anyone that says you can't because you can!~ Aways do your best and you will have no regrets. ~ Nothing is a downer like a frown. ~ God gave you the looks you have. You better be happy with them because that's all you have. ~ A smile will make you and others around you feel better. ~ Nobody really wants to know how bad you feel.~ You are my Miss America. ~ God first, family second. ~ God is always there and so is family. ~ Nobody on Earth loves you as much as your parents.

There were many others, my Mom, my brother and sister, Mrs. Ferguson - a Sunday School Teacher, even my own children; too many to list. Some were good memories and some were not, but they all helped to mold me, change me and form me into who I am today.

The reason I am writing such a lengthy blog about this is because how we communicate verbally and nonverbally with children will change them. It will be stored in their little minds and could alter how they think about themselves and their actions...forever. Don't we want them to be secure, confident, independent adults? Think about it.

Let them know how special they are, love them, communicate with them, respect them, discipline them and let them know that you, God and others care about them.

Today think about different conversations, events or relationships that helped to mold you. Remember, throughout the day, that we are all Silly Putty.

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