Last Thursday was a snow day in our school district. There wasn’t much snow, mind you, but it doesn’t take much to close Portland, Oregon area schools. But then on Friday the weather was better so school was back open.
My son’s school operates on an A-day/B-day schedule, so that he has 4 classes each alternating day. We did not get any notice that they had changed Friday from an A-day to a B-day because of the missed school day, so my son schlepped his huge stack of A-day books with him; but on the bus all the other kids said it was a B-day, which meant he had the wrong books.
He called me to ask if I would bring his B-day books and drop them off in the office on my way to work, and I said I would. Then he said, “What am I going to do with all the books I don’t need today?” I said he should leave them in the office and I would pick them up when I dropped off the others.
I mentioned this to a friend at work, and she told me about how when her kids were in school she was always told by the teachers that if her kids forgot a book or their lunch she shouldn’t take it to them. They should have to suffer the natural consequences of their forgetfulness or else they would never learn to be independent. I’ve heard the same thing from teachers in the past.
Personally, I think that’s just stupid. I would much rather teach my son that we are all connected and that we should help one another when we are in need. What kind of lesson do we teach if, when they are in need, and we say, “Too bad for you. I’m not going to help.”? My friend at work agreed, and said she had always ignored the teachers’ advice. Her kids are now well-adjusted and independent adults in college.
I have been very happy with how my son is doing, as well. He is a thoughtful, caring young man who regularly thinks of others. He doesn’t take my helpfulness in a situation like his book dilemma for granted and just willy-nilly forget things so I have to bring them to him all the time. This is only the third time all school year that I’ve had to drop something off for him. And just to prove how appreciative he is, here’s the post-it note I found on the stack of books I picked up for him:
I smiled all day thinking of that nice post-it note. And I smile whenever I see him offering to help even strangers in need.
So what is more important to teach our children? To be independent and disconnected from others? Or to allow themselves to sometimes depend on others and likewise be willing to help those in need? I have always chosen to focus on the latter lesson, and I have never regretted it.
I will teach all your children,
and they will enjoy great peace.
You will be secure under a government that is just and fair.
Your enemies will stay far away.
You will live in peace,
and terror will not come near.
Isaiah 54:13-14 (NLT).