What My Troublemakers Taught Me

Yesterday was our last church school class before Christmas. Honestly, it’s kind of nice that our last meeting time was this early in December– for the most part, the kids aren’t too wound-up yet.


I had some fun little temporary tattoos for all my kiddos. They say “Hang your Hopes on Jesus” or some such thing– they’re cute and silly. We decorated nativity ornaments together.


I also wrote out cards for them. A couple weeks ago, when a snow fell damply over our yard, I sat down with a stack of Christmas cards and a silver marker.


And I started to write.


Now, I surely could have just signed “Love, Mrs. S.” on each of them and called it a day. But I didn’t want to do that. I also didn’t want to write anything too lengthy– they’re first graders, after all, and some of them aren’t very strong readers, yet.


Although I prefer to write in script, I painstakingly printed out little messages for each child. Some were easy– honestly, my “middle-of-the-road” behavior kids were the simplest. It was pretty easy to think of some neat thing about them and write it in their cards.


I have a couple kids who are, quite simply, awesome and easy and delightful. It was trickier to narrow down what I should focus on in their cards. It was fun, though! What’s not to like about those all-around great kids?


And then.


Then I got down to my last two students. Two boys who give me a run for my money. (Fun fact: I only teach two girls, and one is my daughter. ALL the rest are boys. I’ve had people feel sorry for me about this, but the truth is– I love ‘em. They’re tons of fun.)


I listened to “Do You Hear What I Hear?” play in the background and tapped the marker cap on my teeth. I sipped some coffee and looked out the window.


Finally, I wrote. Carefully, I printed out messages to these trouble-makers of mine. Perhaps more than any of the rest, I wanted these two to know how glad I was to have them– how much I enjoyed having the opportunity to teach them.


As I racked my brain coming up with, well, something NICE to say, I realized what a fantastic exercise it was for me. In pausing, reflecting, and really embracing the hearts of these children, I was able to find the bright spots. I was able to focus on the beautiful and joyful and special and leave all the maddening aside.


I can think of a few other people I might need to write cards to…

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