Whoa. This kiddo.
They say we rise…or fall…to external factors. I have never gone from 0 to 100 and back to 0 so quickly as when I spent time with this student just a few short years ago. We could begin with pleasantries, escalate to steam out of our ears, and finally end with a hug, all in about 15-20minutes.
Fast forward to an extremely challenging day – think “more steam than hugs“.
In a moment of desperation, I asked the student if he had heard of the famous book “The Giving Tree“, by Shel Silverstein. He said he had maybe, but wasn’t sure. In this moment I summarized each portion of the book, purposefully reminding him of the impactful conclusion…
“In the end you know what happens to the tree? It’s a stump! Nothing left to give. You know who that tree is? It’s me. I have given you everything I can…I have nothing left.”
Not my finest moment.
Later, the next day I received a return phone call from the student’s father. I hadn’t ever spoken to this gentleman. I introduced myself and thanked him for returning my call.
“Oh….you’re Lindsy Stumpenhorst? Wait a minute…I’ve heard about you. You’re the giving tree.”
I can’t even.
It took every ounce of strength I had to finish that phone call without breaking down. Thank you for reminding me that what I do isn’t in vain. Thank you for putting me in my place while I was selfishly feeling personally insulted by a child. Thank you for kicking my butt without even knowing it.
They hear you. Every single word. They may not show you. They may not respond. They probably won’t even ever thank you, but they hear you, and it changes them.