I know, I know, you’d expect that to read Like Mother, Like Daughter. People often describe how children look like, sound like and act like their parents. As we grow older, we begin to understand the opposite is also true. The voices of our own parents can be heard when we speak and their images seen in our reflections. Perhaps wisdom allows us to see our children as teachers through a two-way mirror
My daughter Rachel, a college student studying to teach special education, accompanied me on my second visit to an Emergency Children’s Shelter. The child we were visiting was my former student, and Rachel remembered her from visits to my classroom several years earlier. The anxiousness and uncertainty I’d felt on my first visit (See blog post Shelter) was quickly erased by the calm presence of my sweet girl. Our day was well planned-a trip to the zoo, lunch, and finally shopping.
I’ve witnessed Rachel interact with her friends who happen to have disabilities on many occasions. Always treating them as peers, she shows amazing patience during sometimes challenging communication. On more than one occasion I’ve felt like the student and her the teacher as she confidently reminded me to address specific individuals based on their age and not their disability.
This particular day proved no different. She embraced this precious girl (who happens to have disabilities) with love and patience, looking for ways to give her independence and choice throughout the day. Instances where I would have chosen for her, Rachel recognized the importance of encouraging self-determination. Following the zoo map, choosing what animal to see next, ordering pizza, picking out sunglasses-decisions which might seem insignificant to most-provided control in a world where our friend has had very little.
Although it was easier to visit the shelter this time, it was much harder to leave…
Rachel and I chatted the entire drive home, recounting our experiences of the day. We discussed the future, what it will hold for our friend, and what role we might play. When I began to feel the overwhelming sadness of the circumstances, Rachel calmly reminded me what brought us to this day-a subpoena to testify in a child abuse case. On this day, that child was safe.
One day at a time. Words of wisdom from my daughter.
When family and friends say, “Rachel takes after you,” the truth is, I want to be more like her when I grow up.