I was just standing in the kitchen, enjoying my patch of sunshine that shined through my back window and warmed my toes. When I heard a faint "knock, knock" coming from my back door. I don't mean the sound of knocking...I mean the literal words! My little almost-two-this-month year old was standing at the back door, shoeless, in a shirt and pants only. She looked at me with her big beautiful eyes and smiled, while her hands hung red and limp from holding cold snow.
Ahhh..childhood. To enjoy being cold and wet--at least at first. Luckily she hadn't hit that climactic tipping point when cold and wet soon becomes more overwhelming and uncomfortable than the joys of the moment. So...I opened the door and let her into the warm kitchen, quickly looking outside at the snowy hill that butts up against our backyard and just as quickly closing the door to keep the cold out.
My little Leya held up her hands and said "cold hands." Still smiling, with the full expectation that I'd hold them in mine and blow my warm breath into our cupped hands. So cute.
So I did blow. But I didn't stop there.
I remembered what my elementary school teachers always said to us in the cold Alaska winters, when we came in from recess, shaking and cold, "If you're cold, put your hand under your armpit. It's the warmest place on your body." That always stuck with me.
So I lifted her cold little hand up to her armpit and put her other arm down tight over it.
She winced at the coldness, but then smiled.
I smiled. Then did it with her other hand as well.
She smiled again (no wincing this time), and gave a little child-like chuckle. Her big blue eyes still beaming with curiosity, innocence and light from the winter sun through our window. So cute. And yet there's more to learn from this little experience...
Hence...this is why I'm writing this post.
And even now she comes to me again with cold hands, expecting a warm-breath.
Warm breaths are so comforting and warming. The feel great. But...at what point is she ready for more?
She knew mama had the answer and gave warm breaths. And she even tried to use her own breaths, which were still cold and weak and with un-cupped hands. She still had much to learn.
But this last time she now learned the warmth of her own body and armpit. She learned another way to warm up her hands. She was empowered with knowledge. Granted...she had no initial intention of purposely putting her own hand under her armpit to warm herself because she also knew the initial coldness and uncomfort she first felt, with hesitation, when I tried to put her hand up there.
But now she was more open to putting her hand under her armpit to warm it up.
And I even went ahead and showed her how to rub her hands on pants to warm them up with friction.
Now she wasn't just a cute little helpless girl needing mama. She was still cute, but now empowered. Empowered with knowledge of how. But empowered also with experience too. Knowledge plus application.
What? There are degrees of empowerment? Come again?
A resounding yes!!!
She was also empowered with more knowledge, through alternative ways to warming herself (more perspectives), and having now various experiences (that were still similar experiences).
She was gaining depth.
What do we look for in our learning and teaching? Do we scour the buffet and taste everything, merely to leave without a favorite to delve into and find comfort in? Or do we dive deeply into one delectable dish, ignoring all the other possibilities? It's a fine balance, but one key is to find both depth and breadth.
The other key, which is why I started writing this post, is learn and teach for empowerment.
When seeking an answer to a question or problem in life, what do we (or our kids) look for?
A quick warm-breath solution, so we can go out and play?
Or perhaps a life-changing, but empowering experience that enables us to be more independent and stronger in our minds and abilities.
Again...my post runs long, and now my kids have noticed I am missing...
Alas, I must end.
Happy discovering and experiencing. May you find and give empowerment to all, especially those you truly love!