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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Words Matter

For more Slice of Life stories head on over to the Two Writing Teachers blog hosted by Ruth & Stacey.

Yesterday I heard it.  That dreaded sound that all parents hate.  The sound that changes your life for a day, maybe more.  You know the one.  The sound of your child throwing up.  Yes, that's what I heard yesterday from my seven-year-old.  To make matters worse, I heard that sound in the van on the way to school in the morning.  Is there any worse time to hear it?  And, since my 9-7-4-1-year-olds (ok fine, I will excuse the one-year-old) don't seem to know when it is coming...well, I'll spare you the details.  Although, if anyone knows how to teach that skill to children, to know when they are going to get sick, PLEASE SHARE YOUR SECRET WITH ME!!!

Anyway, I'm getting off topic here.  "The incident," as I'm calling it, happened just around the corner from the babysitter's house.  Luckily, I was able to pull into her driveway.

Because my babysitter, B, is awesome, and by awesome I mean phenomenal, she rescued me.  She came out to the van carrying paper towels and wet wipes to clean up.  As we were cleaning, she asked me, "What does a teacher do in this situation?  I've always wondered."  

"I have no idea!" is how I actually replied.  "I guess I will be taking her home because I have no other option today."

At this point, B tells me that my daughter can stay at her house.  She can stay in her bedroom, sleep, watch a movie, color, etc. until I can take her home.  She can stay all day or part of the day or whatever I need.  (See, I told you she is awesome!)  And, here is where the real story begins.
B's mother-in-law just passed away last week.  She had been sick and B's family had been preparing for her move into their home so they could take care of her.  B and her husband had transformed their bedroom into a comfortable room for his mother.  They moved furniture and created a space that would work for her.  As part of the preparations, B urged her children to decorate the bedroom for their Grandma.  She bought special markers so they could write messages on the windows and mirrors for their Grandma.  She bought poster board and markers so they could write messages to hang on the walls and decorate the room.  Unfortunately, their Grandma passed away before she was able to see the bedroom and all the girl's hard work.  
When I walked into the bedroom to pick up my daughter yesterday, I stopped and stared.  I couldn't do anything else.  All I could see were the bible verses, prayers, uplifting messages, comforting words and pictures that were surrounding me in this room.  It is an ordinary bedroom that had been transformed with words.  Important words.  Words that uplifted my spirit.  Words that felt magical in this ordinary space.
I had a hard time carrying on my half of the conversation as I looked around the room. I couldn't speak around the lump that formed in my throat.  I could not tear my eyes away from the writing that was all around me.  It may have been someone else's words that the girls had written down but they had sought out and written down such perfect messages for their Grandmother that it touched my heart in a way that I can't shake.  Oh, the power of words!
I have found myself thinking about this hundreds of times ever since.  I can't shake the feeling I had in that room.  I can't shake the magic of their words.  The story they created for their Grandma.  B told me that the girls felt really bad that their Grandma didn't get the chance to see what they had done.  B's response?  "Maybe this was God's way of preparing you, not really for Grandma at all."  That is the response of a special lady. This is the woman who is caring for my children every day.

The world is lucky to have people like this; people who can see an opportunity for words/writing/stories and know that stories matter.  My family is lucky to have B in our lives; a person who shares her love through words and actions both.
And, I can't help but think of Ruth Ayres' wise words. She says, "Words matter. Story matters."  Yes, it certainly does.


  1. to your first question - tuck doggy or diaper bags into the pockets of your car seats and teach your kids how to use them -
    but more importantly - your "B" is awesome and the message you have shared here easily equals her power to help others.

  2. "Bible verses, prayers, uplifting messages, comforting words and pictures"

    Wow. Those words that surrounded you make life worth living.

  3. What a special woman you have to care for your children as you care for others! I love B's response to her girls and my guess is that they continue to visit that room and feel the comfort. Thanks for sharing.

  4. This is so lovely, even though it may have started off rocky, it wouldn't have happened otherwise. Those powerful words wouldn't have touched your eyes. What a lovely idea and a very healing use of words in a situation that went so differently than originally expected.

  5. You are blessed to have such a woman to care for your children in sickness and health. Words matter, so simple but yet what a powerful message. I hope all are on the road to recovery.

  6. Your "B" reminded me about all the friends who came to my house to watch my daughter when I was in grad school. It was because of them that I was able to be done relatively fast!

  7. Your story is just beautiful, Robin. How in the world could we all continue to live our lives without people like your B. Words do matter, as you've shown us so well. Notes of inspiration, acclamation, gratitude all keep us inspired and warmed. I suspect that creating that room was a kind of goodbye for B's children, a way to tell her what they could not anymore. That mother did that for her children!
    Sorry for that terrible realization, the one you described early in your post. I have no answers, except I always taught my kids that if they woke up with the feeling to stay in bed. It's easier to wash sheets than carpet or ? Teaching the feeling-not much hope. Thanks for all.

  8. Wow! What a wonderful story. And, your babysitter's response couldn't have been more appropriate. Yes, the work the girls did to get the room ready was really so they could get ready for their grandmother's passing and to celebrate their love for her. What a lovely way to respond to their disappointment.