Today, something happened that lightened the darkness even if it was just for a second. The funny thing is, I'm not completely sure what I think happened actually happened. (I'm choosing to believe it did though.) I was at the grocery store after work. Keep in mind that I got to school at 6:45(ish) this morning and didn't leave until almost 5:00; my feet hurt, I was tired, and I felt disheveled and disgusting. After filling my basket with all of the ingredients I needed to make a cake for a party tomorrow, I went to the checkout lane with the smallest line. There was actually only one person in the line, and she appeared to be about halfway through her purchase; I thought for sure this would be a fast lane (after all, I had supper to cook, a cake to bake, and a little work for tomorrow to do).
Of course, this lane was not fast at all. The lady in front of me had all kinds of coupons and the checker was having a difficult time getting them all to go through. I was getting frustrated. I wanted to get home, and this was taking far longer than I intended. Briefly, I thought about going to another lane, but every other lane had at least two or three people in.
I decided to stay put thinking I'd already devoted some time to the lane and I might as well make it useful; there are very few opportunities in my day to stop and just be. If I was going to have to wait, I might as well enjoy the opportunity to slow down. I probably waited in that line for ten minutes.
When it was finally my turn, the checker apologized. Now, this is a checker I have seen before. Since I live down the street from this grocery store, I make frequent trips there; I've gone through his line many times. I assured him that it was okay and that I appreciated the chance to slow down. His response was what took me by surprise. In what I interpreted to be a very non-creepy way, he said, "Wow. I just can't get over how beautiful you are." It is a possibility that I heard him wrong, but I've been replaying the scenario since I got home and I don't know what else he would have said. There's also that chance that he did mean it in a creepy way, but I'm choosing to believe he was just being nice.
Here's something: No one with the exception of my husband has ever called me beautiful. In that one moment, that changed. It's hard for me to even put into words how that one, short sentence made me feel. What I do know though, is it made me realize how important what we say can be. Words have great power. They can destroy someone or they can build them up. Today, my day was built up by someone's kind words. My only hope is that I did that for someone else today.
As I think about my students, I realize there is so much in their lives that I don't know about. I know I have students dealing with big things: divorce/separation, siblings in hospitals miles and miles away, and illness to name a few. Those are the obvious things though. I'm certain there are things they hide and masks they wear to get through the day. My hope is that I said something to one of them today that made them forget those things and just feel good, even if it was just for a second.
During the regular #kinderchat on Twitter last night, we were talking about our memories of kindergarten and school in general. So many of us remembered the good from those years. We talked about how sweet our teachers were, the nice things they did for us, and the impact they had on the teachers we are today. My hope is that I am a teacher my students remember with fondness and warmth. I will likely remember the kind checker at HyVee who randomly called me beautiful for quite some time. Hopefully, I have said something kind to my students that they will remember for quite some time too.