This I Believe

Rebecca - Summerville, South Carolina
Entered on May 8, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
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The Smallest Pebbles

I believe that even the smallest pebbles can make big ripples.

My mother is a champion for children that are unloved and neglected. Children in poverty we cannot fathom. In her toolbox? Love, caring, and patience.

My mother teaches kindergarten at a predominately black and Hispanic urban school. Many days she struggles with feelings of frustration over a lack of accomplishment. She calls me after work and tells me how her day was. Every day it is a different story that would qualify for the nightly news. “Josè says he his scared of small places because he came to this country in a really big can.” Or… “We had to take Shrondra away from her family because her brother told us ‘Daddy was doing dirty things to her under the covers’.” Or… “Chris came to school without shoes and socks today because his daddy couldn’t find them.” So she got Chris some new shoes. Or… “LaDamian said over the weekend that daddy shot mommy so the police took him away. We had to get him a counselor.”

She thinks the problems are too many for her to make a significant difference. “Do you remember the story about the little boy and the starfish on the beach?” I asked her one afternoon. “What you do for each child makes a difference to that child. You can only do what you can with what you have.” I told her.

I use our afternoon conversations to listen to my mother talk about how hard and horrible her day was and tell her ways that the tasks she undertook in her hard and horrible day are changing the hard and horrible lives of her students. And this gentle reminder, along with our prayers, is enough to encourage her to face another day in that kindergarten classroom.

I am proud of my mother. She treats each child in her classroom with the same care and respect with which she raised her own children. I believe she is making a difference in the lives of every one of her students.

I believe it is important to remember that we can all impact the lives of those around us in ways that may seem small ways to us, but very big ways to the person being helped.