I spent the last three weeks making connections. Very temporary connections with very young people of various races and cultures. I, a total stranger, stepped into their classroom and walked them away to another part of their school’s campus to read tiny stories, ask questions and do brain-related activities. They all came. The vast majority stayed with me the 35-45 minutes it took to do the assessment–they all had the option to refuse. They didn’t know I checked out okay with the Arizona Department of Public Safety and passed a security check performed by their school district. I said, “Come, please.” Their teacher said, “You go.” Children are very trusting.
I learned a little about each child in our short time together. One boy with long braids wanted to learn more about creatures (insects.) I knew right off that a little girl was too scared to stay for the assessment. She was very withdrawn, more than shy, like something scary was going on at home. Some kids were reserved until I showed them a page of 30 lines of small pictures of puppies, soccer balls and coffee cups where they were to circle a certain arrangement of the pictures. Often, their eyes widened at the seeming enormity of the task. I said, “Dunh dunh dunh…” in an ominous way, and they smiled and embraced the task. That made it fun for me, too. I liked seeing their reactions.
One little kindergartener slipped her hand into mine as we walked back to her classroom. How sweet! That was like the highlight of the three weeks for me. Somehow, we touched hearts in a way we probably can’t explain and won’t remember. It was special though, and affirming.
I also reestablished a few connections made in the fall when I did this job then (field research with Harvard U. and U. of Michigan.) And I made some new friends. Some of us connected on Facebook as soon as we got home!
I used to be a very shy person. I could walk into a room and be totally unnoticed. Quiet, overweight and ignored, it’s a good position to observe people. Beware, the quiet ones are watching and listening… But that kind of treatment confirmed my self-talk that I was an uninteresting bumbling dork, condemned to life in a society that didn’t acknowledge my existence, let alone my worth.
I credit writing for bringing me out. And maybe middle-age. As a writer wanting to improve, I reached out to a critique group and organized write-ins for NaNoWriMo and ScriptFrenzy. I’ve met writers and others online I wouldn’t hesitate to meet in person. Talking about my writing lights me up and gets other people excited, too. People express awe when I tell them I wrote a novel.
Following this dream, accepting and using my God-given creativity has given me a new door to life. A wide French door with a beautiful view of people, ideas, emotions, dreams and experiences. And a door I can also close for awhile to create alone, as most writers do. That’s a time I still crave and cherish. Each fuels me for the other. It’s a glorious thing.
How do you connect with people? How do your personal giftings help or hinder forming new and improving old relationships?