This is the “rest of the story” from the last blog, in which I plotted to turn my very own little grandsons into guinea pigs.
I had thought about the word “respect” and how it is derived from the Latin “specto” (look) and the prefix “re” (again). If Jameson “looked again” at Jack with new eyes, would he treat him in a different way? How can one see something wondrous and sacred in another without first seeing it in himself?
Ah! A glimmer of light. Maybe I could help this happen.
When the time was right, Jameson and I (already bosom buddies, which helped), had a heart-to-heart talk about how wonderful it feels to really learn. We talked about when he first figured out how to operate a flash light, blow a giant bubble and ride a bike.
“Aw, Nana,” he grinned and nodded. “It DOES feels good!”
“Yeah, I know,” I said softly, not wanting to shatter this pivotal moment. “And it’s one of the happiest feelings we can have.”
“Yeah,” he sighed.
“Kind of a secret, special time of your very own, when you get it just right ALL BY YOURSELF,” I continued.
“Yeah,” he said, his eyes sparkling up at me, pleased that I understood this.
“Did you know that all people have these times, especially little kids who are learning nearly all the time since everything is so new?”
He stared at me as if he hadn’t considered this. I let it sink in and then asked him, “When you are busy learning, do you like it when someone interrupts you or messes up your project?”
He made a face and shook his head.
“It’s best when they are careful to leave you and your stuff alone, isn’t it?”
“Yeah,” he nodded, thoughtfully considering this.
“Did you know there’s a word for it?” His head swung around, eyes wide. “It’s called ‘respect.’ See if you can say it? ‘Re-spect,’” I repeated slowly. “It means to notice when the magic thing is happening inside someone else and be sure not to interrupt. Let’s say this word together. ‘Re – – – Spect.’”
“Reee – – -specttt,” he said. “Ree – – – spect!”
I looked at him tenderly and earnestly. “When you see Jack busy learning with this good thing happening inside of him, do you think you can always show him respect? I really want you to do this. It’s one of the most important things in the world. Could you practice doing it?”
“I guess so, Nana.”
Well! Can you possibly imagine my gratification when he called me up long-distance one day soon afterward to announce, “Hey Nana. Guess What! I’ve been doin’ respect to Jack!”
“Oh, wow, Jameson! That means you are a great person, doing a very important thing on earth,” I affirmed.
Can you conceive of my amazed joy when my daughter called a month or so later to tell me that Jameson had won the Karate Class Award for showing the most respect?
Jameson and Jack, now 8 and 6 are “tight.” Although they can build, imagine and play alone, they also keenly enjoy working as a great little team, planning, collaborating, sharing and creating their Lego scenes together.
The learning center of my vision really can work, because understanding about respect is a light that can be turned on inside a young child. It is a tiny seed that can be planted and grow strong. It is a skill that can be mastered. Cooperation CAN replace competition.
There IS hope for the world – – –