The best thing about teaching Kindergarten is that I spend my days with possibility thinkers. If I tell them they can do something they immediately believe they can. In fact mostly they believe it before I even tell them. They hear the introduction to a song I’ve never taught them and one child will always say “Oh I know that one, I love it.” I show them numbers they have never seen and they say “I used to know it,” they tell me the word ‘is’ says ‘am’ with utmost confidence and given the opportunity to run an errand somewhere in the school at least 3 kids are on their feet saying, “I know where it is, can I do it?”
The truth is, when questioned and cross-examined they don’t know the song, they never knew the number, ‘is’ says ‘is’ and they cannot find the principal’s office. They don’t know because all this information is new to them, they have never seen it before but they are not intimidated.
Life experience intimidates us. We’ve been laughed at, ridiculed and made a fool of. We have taken risks, failed and become tired of trying. We’ve grown up believing the intelligent people are always right and the pretty kids are always the most popular. We’ve learned to just accept things as they are because fighting and resisting requires effort and if at the end we are going to fail anyway, then what is the use in trying.
Our school is like Fort Knox. Everything is locked and everywhere you go you carry your key. It dangles around your neck on a lanyard, it gets caught in little girls hair when you lean over them to stamp their work and its dangerous when you are laminating, so occasionally I take mine off and I leave it on my desk.
I did this the other day when we went to assembly and on returning to class I discovered I was locked out of my room. It’s not easy to leave 18 Kindergarten children unsupervised outside your classroom while you search for a key so I decided to send one of the children on an errand. They didn’t need to go far; in fact the teacher in the next classroom has the same key. I asked the child who was this week’s leader to go but before he had comprehended we were even locked out another child at the end of the line was already making his way to the front.
“I will, I will, I’ll get the key,” he said in eager desperation. So I sent him off and in moments he was back with the teacher’s key swung around his neck. “Okay everybody,” he said “I’m the teacher now.” I like this kid because he is not intimidated. He is confident, bold and unashamed. At 5, he already knows the power of the key. The key gives access to whoever carries it. It doesn’t matter what you know really, you just need connections and people with keys.
When Sam was diagnosed with cancer I was intimidated. The young doctor was more intelligent than me. He told me things that I understood were true because he had devoted his life to learning them. He gave me statistics, facts and bad news. He told me her life would be short without treatment, he told me the sickness would continue for at least two years with successful treatment and I was afraid.
Everyday there is something to deal with, little things that in a normal, healthy body would be easily resolved. This week it’s an enormous wart that has developed where an ingrown toenail was removed. Today it’s infected so it is sore and sensitive on her already fragile skin. Its tedious to deal with the never ending string of things that seem to crop up and require phone calls to the hospital to request prescriptions to be faxed to pharmacy and another drug is added to the list.
Every now and then I think it is all too much. That I don’t have what it takes to keep going but God places an illustrative sermon in front of me every day. He reminds me that the children I teach have leadership within them and the ability to problem solve and if I would just come as a child that I too, would have everything I need.
Carrying the key does not make you the teacher but it gives you access to all the same doors. So I take God at His word when He says: “You will have complete and free access to God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19 – The Message)
It’s a choice each day to be full of faith. We can’t do it on our own but we have the very best teacher. If we lean in He reminds us that we have what it takes. He says “Don’t fear: I am First, I am Last, I’m Alive. I died, but I came to life, and my life is now forever. See these keys in my hand? They open and lock Death’s doors, they open and lock Hell’s gates. (Revelation 1:17-20)
Our lives are in His hands, He holds the keys and we put our trust in Him.