It’s hard to be a child. School is challenging, scary, and often filled with awkward and unpleasant social encounters that eat away at the enjoyment of your day. If you think about how tiny the wee people we send to school are, how thin the shielding around their easily wounded hearts can be, and the plethora of peer induced traumatic events awaiting them each day it’s no wonder they often fake illness to stay home.
When I was a little girl my mother, who has always considered herself a bear, would tell me there was a little bear on my shoulder, sitting next to me and giving me love and strength. It worked wonders knowing that no matter what the more popular kid said to me or the angry kid did to me or who “accidentally” pushed me at recess my mother bear was there with me to help me stand up, brush myself off, and move on with the day.
Now my wee offspring are navigating the tumultuous waters of school, and while I tell them they have a little cat on their shoulder, which is the animal I identify with, it doesn’t work the same way it did with me. (Perhaps because cats are capricious and don’t always want to do what you need them to do.)
So my mother gave them each a little glass heart:
They carry her little heart along with them in their pocket during the day. Oliver told me proudly that Nama was with him all day at school because her heart was in his pocket. Marlena found herself comforted by gripping the tiny expression of unquestioning love when she was having a sad day. Each day before they go to school, they make sure they have their little glass heart with them, just in case. Each day they feel, tangibly, that someone who loves them with the unconditional fierceness of a grandmother is walking by their side as they deal with the myriad of problems that arise in their day.
I am not sure mom realizes what a huge difference her tiny glass hearts have made in the hearts of her grandchildren, but I know the benefit these small people get from her thoughtful gesture will be remembered forever.