I believe that love and trust are what make positive change possible. In looking back on my life, this love and trust has been a common factor in every one of the major events of my life. As a child, I was not aware of what made me thrive and grow and become curious about the world. We often say that children are naturally curious. I think that children – and all people, really – who trust the environment around them and are well-loved, become curious and grow.
My oldest daughter, Anika, came to us through adoption. We were fortunate to welcome her into our family when she was only 3 months old. She was tiny – only 6 pounds. I remember the weak smile that she gave us when the nun handed her to us at the orphanage in India. She was beautiful, and reaching out to the world despite what had been a harsh beginning. We took her home, to my in-laws. There, we began our relationship as mother and daughter. I was an inexperienced, clumsy and self-conscious mother under the critical eye of my mother-in-law, yet Anika kept coaxing me with her smile. Over the four months we spent together in India, she put on weight very slowly – a great disappointment to me and to the pediatrician – yet her willingness to share her smile with a growing circle of admirers grew, along with the love and trust between us. And then, yes, she put on weight and grew physically as well.
When children learn to fear the world around them – when they experience an environment that they do not trust to support them and they do not experience love and respect, they begin to lose their curiosity. I see this in many of the children I teach. They are often cowed by fear of their social or academic inadequacies. What is especially sad about this loss of confidence and curiosity is that schools often introduce it and foster it through their assessments, social structures, and sheer size. However, I know that schools can also be families – places of trust and love and thus the source of positive change in students as well as the adults who work there.
Of course, it is the love and trust between people that gives them the courage to attempt and master new things, and therefore change themselves and the world around them. It is the love of my husband which makes me a wife, the trust of my friends and colleagues which makes me a friend and colleague; it is the love and trust my students have in me that makes me a teacher. And Anika knows that it was she who made me a mommy.
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