How about an uplifting, encouraging, jump-start-to-gumption word-of-the-day for a Monday? Straight from the Vocabulary of Otis: EPIPHANY.
EPIPHANY: a sudden understanding of something
Chapter 11 of Otis Goes to School is entitled, “Kindergarten.” On his mission to find out what happens at school all day, Otis peers through a window pane and observes a classroom of these baby students:
“He saw his smiling girl in the bunch of fledgling readers, all focused together, waiting for the teacher’s approval in their discoveries of letter sounds that were turning into words before their very eyes. He was witnessing an epiphany, at the spellbinding hands and wise ways of this gentle lady who cared for his girl everyday at School.”
Of course, as one might expect, these young ones are learning to read. Some of them will pick it up quickly, as a second-nature sort of hobby (I have one child who loves to lose himself in words unfolding like a magical red carpet across the page, and has since he began to string letter sounds together.). Some of them might have known how to read before Kindergarten even began. Some will take their sweet time, a gift enjoyed only by children, and pined after by those of us who have braved the phenomenon of adulthood. There will also be those who find no interest at all in the reading skill just yet, who would rather build with blocks, win imaginary Matchbox car races, paint or daydream… at least, for a while (Another of my children fit this bill at this tender age.).
Imagine those precious Kindergarten teachers, evaluating and discerning each child’s reading level, taking those darling little hands at the door as Mom or Dad say goodbye for the day, and leading them into a brand new phase of life. These are days that they will grow exponentially–not always necessarily in body, but in mind. Given the chance to bloom at their own pace, they all will blossom into gardens unimagined, save by the superior and unmatched, imaginative design of the Creator who knit each of them carefully, with more precision than our human minds could possibly comprehend. (Psalm 139:13)
The way the mind of a child works is magnificent, and to witness the lighting of a flame, the flipping of the switch, the lightbulb going on–to see sheer delight spread from ear to ear when those funny-shaped, quirky letters finally jump in line to make a word–is to observe an epiphany.
My child (who has the gift of being in this moment and taking her sweet time), reading to her little brother on the first day of summer. This was an epiphany on many levels! Brother realizes sister can read; Sister realizes how happy Little Brother is when she reads to him; Mommy enjoys a flash in time she won’t forget!
That said, let us not neglect the many other epiphanies in our little folks’ lives, and mistakenly deny the joy deserved therefor. I have seen such happiness on the face of one proud little fellow at figuring out how the lunch line actually works, and getting it right for the first time. High five, whippersnapper!
I have seen a little girl stand with a bit more confidence, and maybe even a bit taller, when she received an unexpected compliment for her politeness and ability to follow directions and set a fine example. Keep smiling, my dear!
I have watched some pretty fast legs push the limit of “walking” in the hall, out of the pride that comes with the authority to venture all the way to the library alone, choose a book, check it out, and return to class on time. Knew you could, bud!
I’ve hugged one little darling whose tears showed her uncertainty about when Mom would arrive for afternoon pick-up, and then her elated heart and wide spread arms when Mom’s familiar car just so happened to be first in line. So thankful your school day ended with joy, beautiful child!
And how about the dreamy little artist-the one who paints watercolors with a little bit of fairy dust, who can fashion a flower uncannily like Monet? Or, the speedy-footed athlete who can somehow recall more stats than an ESPN commentator on Monday morning? Or, the shy little elfkin who figured out how to string clovers together without breaking a stem? No doubt I could share endless examples worthy of such a word-of-the-day. But you get the picture. Have you experienced the epiphany…?
Could you figure out the lunch line, the library and the pick-up line, all while being polite, following directions, setting an example, painting, playing, keeping your energetic legs from running in the halls, AND learning to read? Could you do it all at age 5 or 6? The fact is, we all had to try, didn’t we? We’ve all been through what our children are learning at this age, though we might not remember it all.
If we were afforded the chance to BE these children, way back when it was our turn, then we were the lucky ones. If you are encouraging and celebrating these childish epiphanies with your children, be they of your own household or your classroom, then your children are the lucky ones. It’s a big deal when they can brush their own teeth. It’s amazing when they spread butter on their own toast. It speaks volumes of their character when they summon the confidence to read in front of the class. And when they learn the joy of showering others with kindness, even before they are asked–well–that epiphany drops seeds that spread like wildfire in the way the Good Lord intended.
It’s a sudden understanding of something. It’s the “sudden” ingredient that makes it stick. Let us celebrate in what seems to be “little things” to us wise-ol’ adults, but what are, to our children, brilliant discoveries of the ways their world works. Let us allow them their epiphanies, and be so very proud of their abilities, personalities and talents. It is ground that must be broken again and again, to each his own path, in his own time.
Sweet, sweet time… would that we all take it like children… and Otis.
Here’s hoping for beautiful epiphanies in your world today, and may you find joy therein. We hope you’ll stay with us as we see just how far @OtisGoes!
Catching the breeze on the way to drop the children off on their first day at school.