It’s time to get back to the books
The first day of school … and all the preparation in the world hasn't managed to ready our household for the accompanying chaos of trying to get out the door, fed, with all the necessary named items, in the correct uniform, washed and brushed to make a good impression, then to navigate the first real morning rush-hour for months.
Forget the nerves of ‘Day 1' in a new classroom — I'll have felt like we've accomplished a major feat just arriving at school!
In all the fraught tension and bustle, and the effort not to lose tempers as I chivvy and hurry, and say how many times? “Where can your shoes have gone?!”, thought sits heavily in my chest.
We have a lady who comes to clean our house once a week, our greatest luxury and saving grace.
Arriving amid the morning panic she murmured, “I wonder what my children were like going to school.”
Asking what she meant, she told me that she left the Philippines when her children were just five and two.
The children stayed with their grandparents.
She didn't get to see their first days of school while she moved to different countries, wherever there was good-paying work. She got to see her children only every two years.
A lump the size of a boulder caught in my throat.
She must have read my expression.
“I had no choice,” she said. There was no work at home that would have allowed her to pay for her children's education.
She had sacrificed her life with them, enjoying watching them grow up, in order to give them better opportunities than she had.
I know her story is not an uncommon one.
It's just that I'd forgotten to consider these details.
I'd only looked at the surface and had continued operating at that level.
It's what many of us do most of the time.
We assume things about people, dismiss them, make judgments of them, engage in petty grievances like, ‘he cut me off in traffic', ‘she has a mean look on her face', before we stop to consider the backstory.
Where is this person coming from? What could be going on in their lives?
What if we withheld any judgment until we've actually looked beneath the cover of this book?
It's another classic life lesson — but again, one that gets easily overlooked when we're caught up in our own ‘stuff'.
And its benefits extend beyond finding empathy for others.
Recognising the multitude of experiences in the world, we start to look with fresh eyes at our own circumstances.
It is a privilege that I get to chivvy and bustle my child to school in the mornings.
Perhaps I could even let a little appreciation creep in for how very fortunate I am?
Perspective can help us find the light and joy and the possibility in our own situation. We have today … so let's make it a good one!
Good luck to all our students for a great year ahead.
•Julia Pitt is a trained Success Coach and certified NLP practitioner on the team at Benedict Associates. For further information about her services, contact Julia by telephoning (441) 705-7488, or visiting the website www.juliapittcoaching.com.