While watching a University of Washington women’s basketball game, my granddaughter Hadley drew a birthday picture for her cousin Jenna, her favorite player. After the game, Jenna came over to meet us. She leaned down as Hadley presented the hand-drawn picture and wished her a happy birthday. Jenna gave Hadley a big hug and said she was going to hang the picture in her room. I snapped a couple of pictures and said a few words of congratulations for the win, and Jenna went off to meet with her other fans.
Hadley looked up at me with wide, shining eyes and said, “She is going to hang it in her room.”
At that moment, I saw in my mind the many children who have presented me with pictures, handmade gifts, treasures found on the playground, or stories that were either dear to their hearts or hurt and had to be told. I deeply hope that my response to each offering was as affirming. Seeing the effect of that give-and-take through the eyes of a giver, I was reminded just how powerful a few kind words of affirmation can be. It takes only a moment to convey I see you. I hear you. You are important to me.
The curriculum we teach, the standards we try to meet—they are all important. But in the busy drive to accomplish so much, let’s not forget that it takes only a brief moment to make a connection that will be remembered for a very long time.