A weekend to reflect on what there is to be grateful for in our lives – and it comes at the perfect time. The school routine is established; the flow of the work routine is nicely moving; the leaves are changing; the harvest is in; today’s temperature is more indicative of the season; and the morning started in a hockey arena.
And as much as there is in my life to be grateful, I am reminded that there is still so much more to learn, to explore, and to embrace to better understand where we came from, where we are, and where we hope to be. As happy as I am that Kristy, Jay, Leila and I celebrated with a Thanksgiving dinner last night; will most likely be celebrating at Penage tonight with the Dozzi family; and one more turkey brunch with Auntie Di and Auntie Nicole tomorrow before goalie school begins for the year – a part of my heart is heavy for those who may not be as fortunate.
I am grateful Leila tells me what happens in her life that creates concern for her safety and well-being; I am grateful she asks questions to better understand what is happening; and am grateful the staff at Beattie are there to assist in the dialogues to assure the students. The phenomenon of Creepy Clowns doesn’t escape our children and one can only imagine what images are created in their vulnerable minds. On the way to school this week Leila asked me if it was true what she heard on the playground about the creepy clowns and so began our conversation about the clowns with a myriad of questions: “Are there Creepy Clowns in Sudbury?” “Why would someone want to do that?” “Why don’t the police get them all?”
And each question and follow up was answered. In the end she stated it wasn’t nice for people to scare other people; the teachers at the school were there for the students; and our police maybe could help out other countries. These young children are aware of what is going on and will ask the questions. One of Leila’s friends was giving me the update and I swear she read the news release her information was so accurate. What I came away with – kids with information and adults in their corner are better equipped to get on with their day. I am grateful for listening educators, caregivers who engage in open dialogue, and kids who can move on through their day with their carefree minds intact.
This week I spent two days with about 50 professionals in our community whose focus is to do what is best for young people and their families. Kevin Cameron led the group through VTRA Level II Training. I am grateful that I continue to be blessed with the opportunity to learn from the man who led the creation of this model; grateful that he continues to learn and evolve the model so we can better serve our community; grateful to the 21 community partners that are committed to continuous capacity building; and grateful for the families that invite the team to share their journey – this is people reaching out and accepted by hands that want to work together to create a safer more welcoming community.
The latest non-fiction books on my reading list have taught me empathy is a critical character component. When reading feelings sometimes overwhelm me and reduce me to tears or put me in a confused state of mind. Empathy sometimes needs a little reminder to be clear what it is and lucky me the universe provided such an experience. On a Friday night drive not far from home I looked in my rearview mirror and saw the flashing lights of a police car. I checked my hands were at 9 and 3, which is irrelevant as there are no laws that state this is required. Certainly wasn’t speeding. Stopped the car; asked Leila why we were being pulled over because of course, she would know. My heart is pounding. I wait for the officer to come. He asks me if I knew my lights weren’t on. Didn’t have a clue. I keep my lights on auto. I looked down; they were not on auto. I am dying a thousand deaths. I am embarrassed. I am scared. The young officer was nothing but polite and professional. He was doing his job and was doing it well. Yet, my heart pounded so hard I thought it was going to pop out of my chest.
Now the questions come:
Officer: “Where were you?”
Officer: “Were you drinking?”
Leila: “Yes, you had lemonade.”
(Oh my, I lied. Perception. When an officer asks were you drinking, I think alcohol. When an officer asks were you drinking, Leila is literal and thinks anything you drink is the correct answer.)
Me: “Yes, I drank lemonade.”
Officer: “Can I see your license?”
I will not draw this out, but know this I couldn’t find my license, my insurance, or my ownership. Also know all three of them were in my purse.
Officer: “Where are you going?”
Me: “Home” (In my head, I can’t get there fast enough. I want to crawl and hide.)
Leila: “Don’t worry TiTi, I won’t tell a single soul.”
If this is how I physiologically respond when the police pull me over, a person who from childhood has only positive experiences with police officers – as children we were taught police keep us safe; as a teenager I waited on officers in our restaurant and enjoyed our conversations; as an educator organized events for the schools, worked on projects; and now I get work alongside them. In my life every experience, every interaction with an officer has been positive. What is it like for those whose experience is different? Or whose perception of policing is different? Or were taught differently?
What was it like for the officer? When I was rifling through my purse looking furiously for the information he required. I panicked so badly I forgot where I stored them. Thinking about what he was thinking or feeling was nowhere on my radar. Remember he didn’t know me. All he did was remain calm and patient.
Here is what I know about the police officers who shaped my life – they chose to serve; they chose to put the safety of the members of the community first – people they may not know or ever know. And you know what else, they are someone’s child, someone’s parent, someone’s sibling, someone’s friend, someone’s relative. Just like everyone else they are a part of the community. I am grateful to police officers who chose to serve to protect.
And as I write this I am grateful for others who have chosen to serve: educators, social workers, medical workers, mental health works, spiritual advisors, politicians, military personnel, etc. etc. So many people choose to work in fields meant to help others and do so with the intention of ‘doing good’. And you know what else, they are someone’s child, someone’s parent, someone’s sibling, someone’s friend, someone’s relative. Just like everyone else they are a part of the community.
This experience was the perfect situation to remind me what empathy looks like, feels like. I was blessed to have this understanding become a reality safely and intensely; and am committed to learning by asking the hard questions, reading, continuing to work with others and most importantly listening. I am grateful I live in a community, a country that allows this to be so.
Oh and one more “Leila ism” – Friday she informed one day she wanted to be Mayor and within 30 seconds decided she preferred to be like Justin Trudeau and become Prime Minister. So needless to say, I am most grateful to have this child in my life.
Take time this week to share part of your wisdom with a child.