Sunday, April 5, 2009

Living the 'Good Life'

I had an experience a few weeks ago that I wanted to share. I work at an elementary school. I'm a teacher's aide and I basically work with children who need a little extra help. I was in a fourth grade class and saw a student who looked like he was having a bad day. I tried to encourage him to sit up straight and get ready to have a good experience in class. He looked up at me and said, "Why are you always smiling?" I didn't realize that I smiled that much. In fact, I think I'm pretty stressed and irritable a lot. So I asked him, "Am I always smiling?" He said, "Well, you always look happy. You must have a good life." I thought about it for a minute and nodded. "Yes, I do have a good life." "Well, I don't," he said. "I hate my life."

I talked to his teacher later and she confirmed that he does have some challenges to deal with. Ever since then I've been haunted by his face, his situation and his words, "I hate my life." There's not much I can do to improve things for him. I pay particular attention to him while I'm in his class and I smile whenever I see him in the hall. And he's always in my prayers.

But there is something I can do about me and my attitude. I'm trying to appreciate my blessings more and complain less about the stresses in my life. I'm trying to remember that I am happy and I do have a good life - even if it's a busy one. I'm thankful to that fourth grader who has helped me to see things much more clearly. And I hope that one day he will have a happy life too.


Amanda D said...

Great post. I think it would be hard to be a teacher and see all the things that kids go through in their lives. I also live a good life, and I need to be more thankful. Thanks for the reminder!

Cheri J. Crane said...

I volunteered as a mother helper when my youngest son was in the 1st grade. This meant I often worked with those students who were having a difficult time learning how to read. I experienced something similar to what you described with a young boy who came from a troubled background. He had little to no support from home and as he agonized over every word he learned, he would often burst into tears, frustrated with his situation. All I could do is smile, encourage, and be as supportive as possible.

It tears your heart out when you see things like this. I've always carried a soft spot in my heart for this young man. I wish I could say that he has had a happy ending in life so far, but it hasn't turned out that way . . . yet. Perhaps in time.

Experiences like this do remind us of our own blessings, and fill us with empathy for those who struggle along life's path.

Wonderful post, Betsy. =)I'm glad you shared.

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

Betsy, what a sweet boy. I hope his day will be brightened a bit when you smile at him. Teaching is very, very hard.