I am a very lucky aunt who is enjoying many hours with my niece Johanna. Johanna has always been a curious and thoughtful child, but in the last few months, her world is taking off with all she is learning in school.
Tonight as we drove she asked me if I knew what empathy meant. With great curiosity I played dumb and said I did not know that word. She went on to tell me that if I was feeling sad then she would have empathy and feel sad with me, even if she wasn’t really sad. I am fascinated at how young this can be taught and understood. She told me about Mr Bultsema and Mrs Farrar-Perkins teaching them about empathy. I said a prayer of thanks for Living Stones academy and how they nurture the minds AND hearts of my niece and nephews.
A very common game we play when we are together is spelling. She asks me to give her words and she sounds them out and spells them. I sometimes wish she would stay five forever as I hear her sound out each letter. mmmm–oooo—ooooo–nnnnnnnn. Then we count by 5’s and then practice math. There is something incredible about a child’s ability to learn and absorb concepts that will lay a foundation for their continued learning with every year ahead.
Spending time with Johanna has inspired me to be more aware of what I am learning. I want to be a life long learner. I want to be aware of the spaces in any given day when I recognize there is learning opportunities at hand. I recognize at 45 it may not be the same exciting academic learning that comes with spelling and understanding of words and their meanings. But perhaps there are more opportunities than I recognize and embrace. I also recognize that Johanna has capacity to learn because she is nurtured, loved, fed, watered, rested and lives in a world where she is delighted in, cherished and able to be exactly what she is, a five year old girl. And I recognize that there are children who are well cared for and struggle to learn. My delight in Johanna and all she is learning is not in any way implying that learning is easy for everyone.
I hope that you care for yourself in your adult world in a similar fashion. I hope you (and I) will tend to our basic needs for nutrition, hydration, rest, play, stress management, exercise, laughter and learning in a way that offers us a healthy life balance. And so, be curious and remember that perhaps one of the greatest tragedies in life is if we believe there is nothing more to learn.