“Do you know you are my favorite?”

Robert, Edward, and Gabrielle playing "restaurant". They're still my favorites 😉

When my daughter and a few of the “older” cousins in our family were very young, I liked to tell each one, “You are my favorite.”  For example, to my daughter I would say, “Do you know that you are my favorite daughter?”  She would moan, “But Mom, I’m your only daughter!”  Well that didn’t matter; she was still my favorite!

To her cousins, when I spent time with each one, I would ask them the same thing: “Do you know that you are my favorite?”  Each one enjoyed the attention from Tante Annette, even while knowing that they were all my favorites.  In those moments, they knew that they were loved and appreciated, and special to me.  It was more like, “You are my favorite when you are with me.”

Yesterday, I was reminded of those “growing up times” when I was at school.  I became the holder of a Gold Ticket.  That meant that I received the opportunity to award a student who demonstrates that s/he is being a responsible student.  It’s one way that we give recognition to our students, and they get the chance to be entered into a drawing to receive a small reward.

Of course, it’s a big responsibility to choose the Gold Ticket recipient.  I wanted to be fair and thoughtful.  I wondered, “Should I choose the one who is always doing the right thing, or pick someone who is doing the right thing now?”  I like to give a boost to someone who doesn’t usually get noticed or who struggles but has been on track.  At the same time, someone who is consistent should be recognized.  What a dilemma I had, with so many good candidates to choose from and only one ticket!

After weighing it and going back and forth, I chose a deserving student who follows directions, is prepared to learn, and sets a good example.  Feeling confident in my selection, I made my announcement to the class.  First, I relayed my difficulty in deciding on one person.  After all, there were several candidates who were responsible students.   Still, I only had one Gold Ticket and could make only one choice.

Next, I described the student’s responsible qualities, explaining why I believed this person should be chosen.  I looked around the room and saw twenty-some faces, beaming in the anticipation of being named.  I knew one thing for sure in that moment: one student would feel fabulous and the twenty-some would be a little disappointed and wonder, “Why not me?”.  I really wanted to give everyone a Gold Ticket.

Finally, I shared the name of my chosen student with the class. With love, her second grade classmates showered her with warm applause.  That’s one thing this class knows how to do: show appreciation with applause!  M——-, the quiet, responsible girl whose name was announced, looked surprised, but happy.  It was an affirming moment.

Afterwards, when she left to go to the Main Office, several students asked me, “Mrs. P., was I one of the students you were thinking of?”  One student, who struggles with great difficulty to follow directions and stay on task told me, “I thought for sure you were going to pick me!”  You know, it wasn’t as much about “earning” the Gold Ticket as it was that each child wanted to feel that I had noticed him or her, that s/he was special to me.

So what did I tell them?  “Yes, I was thinking of you.  It was so hard to choose one person.  I thought M—— deserved the Gold Ticket this time.”  What I said was indeed true – I did think of each one.  I thought about how they are all my favorites and how they each matter to me and to each other.  Their feelings matter to me.  To me they are all winners.  I want these little ones to know that.

What I take away from my experiences is this: to make someone feel that they are special and loved while they are in your presence is a true gift.  It is a gift you give to another, and it is a gift you give to yourself.  By giving of yourself in this way, you open yourself to give and to receive love.  You elevate others and you yourself become elevated in the process.  It’s simple and easy, and feels so good.  That’s really the power of love.

8 thoughts on ““Do you know you are my favorite?”

  1. Reading this story affirms to me that you are clearly in the right job, whether or not you realize it . Your compassion for children is inspiring and unfortunately rare among my own personal experiences as a student.

    While I am not particularly religious, your story does ring bells with the fact that everyone is deserving of God’s love. It can be easy to judge and point fingers at the people who give us the most trouble, but it does not mean that they are any less deserving. In fact, it probably means that they need that love the most.

    I hope you realize that you are the favorite of more people than you’ll ever know. And that of course, you will always be my favorite 🙂

    • One thing that Grandmaman said while she was working with special needs children was that she could imagine each child as Jesus. Nothing was difficult to do (feeding, changing diapers, lifting, positioning, etc.) when she could see Jesus in each child. I took what she said to heart. I think that each of us is a reflection of God’s love and the power of God’s creation. It’s really easy to see that in children and animals, because of their innocence, but all of us reflect this love. When I think this way, it makes my “work” a joy and gives me a sense of purpose. Children need to know that they are supported and loved, and that they can be successful. They need to know that what they think is important, and that someone wants to hear their thoughts. It takes so little effort to give that attention to a child. It takes so little time. I really do enjoy talking with children – it puts a smile on my face. And when they are in need of a caring adult, I am glad that I can be that supportive listener. I agree with you – I wish there had been more adults like that when I was in school. There were some, but not enough.

      I am thankful for the loving bond and connection we have. We are truly blessed to have an amazing relationship!

      • Grandmaman is also a person that was in the right field. I think it has to do with compassion. It’s funny, recently a teacher told my class that the true meaning of compassion (if you break down the etymology) is to suffer with. While that may seem a bit bleak, I think it can mean that one who is compassionate does not solely think about their own life. They suffer, laugh, inspire, and genuinely experience life with other people for the sole betterment of the other. I see this in both you and Grandmaman–while it may not be easy at times, both of you truly care about the people you work with. I think it’s a rare trait and one that can often be forgotten.

        i’m thankful as well of the connection we have. I think it’s mostly because we communicate with each other and respect each other as individuals. If I ever become a mother someday, I hope I never forget the importance of simply conversing with my children on a daily basis.

      • Yes – communicating (listening and sharing) is so important in establishing and building close, loving relationships. And respecting each other as individuals, I too believe that that is a great strength in our relationship. 🙂

    • Thank you for your kind words! I see myself as someone who can listen to and advocate for children, even if it is in a small way. Because of this belief, I find that children inspire me to be my best and to do my best, I know there are lots of people who feel the same and who grasp the opportunities to make a difference. Life isn’t easy, but we can make it easier and happier for ourselves and those around us. It just takes an open heart and patience.

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