When I approach a child he inspires me in two sentiments; tenderness for what he is, and respect for what he may become.
~ Louis Pasteur
As the school year is coming to a close, I find myself reflecting on the progress made by our second graders and on the meaningful interactions I have had with them throughout the year. Each day this year provided me opportunities to know each child better; to discover thoughts and values and feelings; wishes, dreams, and fears. Each child is beautiful and complex and significant, reminding me that age and stature are not the aspects which define who we are, but rather where we are in life’s journey.
I think it can be easy for adults to underestimate the abilities of children to think, to know, and to make choices. The children I have met continually show me that they think deeply, making connections between what they learn at home and what they learn in the world beyond home. When we engage in conversation, I hear children express the concerns they have for their families and for the world. Children are aware and want, as adults do, to have control of their circumstances and to make a difference in the world, even if it is just to one person. They understand love and goodness, and that the world in which they live could use more. When I look upon the radiant faces of our children and witness their kindnesses, I am grateful to know that they bring to the world that little extra. In their own simple way, they demonstrate all that is good, and right in the world. They renew my hope.
The quotation by Louis Pasteur caused me to reflect on the way I think about the children I care about, and have cared about, in my life. It is an interesting point of view, to look at a young person and to see the child and the potential adult simultaneously. Often I catch a glimpse of the adult in the child, and I wonder if Pasteur had this experience, too.
In a few days our children will be completing second grade and moving on to third. They will continue to grow and mature, and move forward in their journey. I will miss them and their second-grade days, but I will be eager to watch our children take their next steps. And perhaps I will meet a whole new group of second graders in September. That’s the cycle of life and school. For now, I will enjoy our kids for just a little longer, appreciating the difference they’ve made in my life.