I walked into the classroom to read my story on Mothers Day to the children. I was a little nervous. Would the tough audience respond well to the story? It is always the surest test. If their attention dithers, you have lost, if they are enthralled, nothing else matters.
The teacher told me that they will be settling down soon. I watched amazed as she quietly got all the children, who were, less than a minute ago, tumbling and hanging upside down in the playgrounds outside to sit on the rug in the middle of the class, and settle down to Reading Time.
Now..Now..Ian, what did we say about sitting quietly facing me?
Ardvash, sit with your bottoms on the floor please.
All of you, sit with your bottoms on the floor and look ahead. We have a very special thing happening today. Can anybody tell me what it is?
A flurry of hands shot up into the air, and several people started talking at the same time. A minute later, they sat chastened by the fact that they had talked over each other without waiting their turns. There is no greater joy than seeing children respond sweetly to their teachers. A mellow voice bursting with pride at being picked said, “We are getting story-time”
“Yes!” Said their teacher. “And we are lucky have an author, a real author, come to read us her book.”
I took a deep breath, had the children do the same, and launched into the story. I read to them how the animals had planned to celebrate Mothers Day in the Jungle. When Potini Elephant was in tears because she could not find her dear child, Trumpy Elephant, there was a hush. The story built on, and every now and then I stole a glance at the faces of the children. The sweet sincerity with which they bestowed their attention made my heart sing.
When the book was over, the children clapped and their teacher gently asked them if they were forgetting something. “Thank you!” they all chorused.
It is Teacher Appreciation Week, and the importance of a loving, firm but gentle influence on the children day in and day out is not lost on me.
We do not need to be told to sit on our bottoms when we get to work, or go to a restaurant. But I wish somebody would tell us to sit on our bottoms and listen to the wind rustling through the trees or the geese quacking their way home every night, and we listened with the heart-warming sincerity of children.
When you get the opportunity to read your Mother’s Day story to a class of children sitting “with their bottoms on the floor”, and they listen with rapt attention, there is no better gift for Mother’s Day, is there?
#HappyMothersDay to all you wonderful mothers and mother-like figures.