Karla’s Korner: Joy

I am proud to introduce a new column to Madame Deals! I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy!

Joy…

As I sit down to write this, my heart is full of joy. I just finished putting away all of the gifts my preschool students gave me for Christmas. This year I have a total of 17 students in my class. I have 10 students in my class each day. (Our school offers a flexible schedule, so I have different groups of students each day). Everyone in my class is three years old. Now, I’m sure somewhere someone gasped when they read that last sentence. However, that is exactly why my heart is full of joy. Let me explain.

As a mother of two older children I sometimes find myself missing some of the “little kid” things we used to do. I am so wrapped up in college applications, scholarship applications, homework, basketball practice, camp, lesson plants, etc. that sometimes I wish I could just sit down with my kids and color. Not too many 17 and 12 year olds like to color, so I go to work, and sit down with an entire class full of three year olds who love to color with me, and we color. If I were to sit at home and color, my family might think I have some issues to deal with, but at work, me sitting at a table with my crayons is absolutely normal.

As I sat today and watched my entire preschool class on stage reciting their Christmas poem, or as we lovingly called it “the donkey song” my heart filled with joy. Did they sing it all together on perfect pitch? Nope. Did they all stand in a straight line, nice and tall with their hands by their side? Not a chance. Did they steal my heart as they stood there in their crooked little line pulling at their clothes, wiggling in their shoes with their hands in their pockets or holding their dress above their heads? Absolutely! Was I possibly the proudest person in the entire room as they took their bow, blew their kiss and wished everyone a Merry Christmas. Yes, I believe I was.

How many times do we find ourselves going through life in such a hurry that the small things get in our way? All too often we are so busy focusing on being finished that we don’t even remember what it took to finish. For example, our little donkey song was quite the project for a group of three year old children to undertake. We started working on learning it before Thanksgiving. For the first week or so we focused on one verse or sentence at a time. After we mastered each sentence (along with hand motions) we would move onto to the next. After about two weeks of this process we were able to recite the entire piece from start to finish (including the hand motions). While watching my students perform the finished product was a joyful experience, I find that the joy I had today stemmed from the learning process that started over a month ago. As we sat each day learning each new line I would encourage them with praise at the accomplishment of what they had learned the day before. After a few days of practicing our little donkey diddy, I began to get e-mails or questions from parents asking me what were their children talking about and asking if I could send them the words to this song. I was so excited that they were learning their lines and singing them over and over at home.

Each year as we prepare for Christmas, running around shopping, checking our lists, rushing to parties at work or our children’s school, we tend to forget to look for the joy in all of the chaos. I remember several years ago I found myself feeling sad at the end of Christmas Day. Our house was decorated to perfection complete with two trees. There were plates of Christmas goodies everywhere, the children had gotten everything on their list and yet, there I was disappointed that Christmas was over and I hadn’t enjoyed one single bit of it. Why? Because I had focused so much on making everything perfect that I forgot to take time to enjoy myself or my family.

This year as I began to prepare for the holidays, I decided to take a different approach. I decided that we were going to put up one tree and hang our stockings on the fireplace. That was it; nothing more. When I shared this decision with my family, they all breathed a huge sigh of relief.

As our children get older we realize that our time together as a family under one roof is quite limited. Just as my preschoolers learned the donkey song one verse at a time, we must learn to live our lives the same way. While planning and preparation for life’s events is necessary, it is also necessary to slow down and take time to enjoy the little things life throws our way. Sometimes, the unplanned events are the most memorable. Sometimes, it’s o.k. to have absolutely nothing to do. Sometimes, it’s o.k. to just sit down and color.

~Karla Robey

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