This past week I had the hilarious privilege of participating in an event at Levi’s elementary school called, “Teach In”. Teach In is where local schools invite professionals (mostly guilted parents of the class) to come to the school and teach the kids about what it is they do all day, exactly. You know, like doctors and lawyers, and architects and people with real jobs…and me, “Stay at home mom/writer/blogger/exercise avoider”. As you can probably guess by my name being in the mix, Levi’s class came up on a little light on the parents who were able to leave their jobs for an hour in the middle of the week and impress a bunch of kindergartners, which is why I was a last minute addition to the squad. No joke, I was in the company of two dentists, A FREAKING ARMY RANGER (who came in all his tactical gear), a nutritionist and a marketing guy who let all the kids film a commercial ABOUT COOKIES. And then me. A mom. Who has a blog. That is mostly read by her grandma, her favorite great aunt and her mom. Talk about feeling all sorts of inferior and inadequate.
BUT I plunged on, valiant as an army ranger, and went about the business of trying to figure out how to make writing a blog, or writing in general, seem interesting to a bunch of kids who are stoked to have just learned how to sound out the word “butterfly”. So I thought about how it is I come by this captivating material that my grandma, my great aunt and my mom think is just the cat’s meow, and I realized that most of it stems from something I wrote in my journal. And most of that all begins with an emotion and then the subsequent thoughts that come flying out of that one single emotion when I start to write it all down.
So I armed myself with 20 tiny journals, the best that Amazon could provide on my tiny budget, and decided to teach the kiddos about the importance of writing about your feelings and the subsequent stories you heart can tell you that can come out of those feelings. I’ll be honest. I was nervous. I had no idea how much these kids would care about anything that I had to say. Because an army ranger had just left their classroom!
I began by explaining that I blog on the Internet, which lead to a confusing conversation about what a blog is, and then lead to a serious conversation about how we NEVER go on the Internet without our mommies and daddies hanging out nearby. And then I told the kids that the thing I write about most often is my feelings. And we started talking about feelings….and then we never stopped talking about feelings.
A portion of my talk that I thought would last about 30 seconds of asking a few kids what emotions they had felt that day so far, turned into my entire 30 minute presentation. Because kids have a LOT of feelings. And kids love to talk about all of those feelings. And after a while, I didn’t even have to respond to each kids emotional declaration because they were responding to each other. One kid would say, “I saw a big dog today on my walk to school and I felt scared.” And another would chime in, “Oh! Me too! Dogs always make me feel scared!” Or they talked about what had made them happy that morning, or sad, or silly or brave or mad or frustrated. Each kid expressing all of those feelings and then the kids sitting around him or her saying, “Yes! Me too!” There was no anxiety in expressing those feelings. There was no worry if anyone else would understand or think their feelings were dumb. Because they all have feelings. And they are brave enough to talk about them.
By the time I pulled out my little handful of journals and explained how cool it is to write about all of those feelings, their little eyes immediately lit up. I watched as it suddenly clicked to them that, not only could writing or drawing about those feelings make them feel better or feel more of that feeling, but that those feelings could turn into stories or ideas. I basically watched as a roomful of kindergartners made the decision that ALL of their feelings were worthy of being made into a story.
Our time ended in a group hug, which I both loved and hated at the same time. And I left feeling pretty good about myself. And I felt pretty great when Levi came home that day and told me he wanted to spend time journaling his feelings each day. And then today something awesome happened. I returned back to Levi’s school a few days later to help with an event, because I am a room mom and I live there now, and a little girl tugged on my shirt as they were lining up and said, “Miss Reagan, I’ve been writing a lot of stories in my journal this week.”
What?! Come on now! Cue the water works and the good vibes! Get outta here with that stuff!
Kids are awesome. Small kids even more so, because the world hasn’t taught them yet to ignore their feelings. They haven’t been trained to be embarrassed about them yet. They haven’t been ridiculed yet for feeling too much. Or shunned for feeling not the right thing. They wear their hearts on their sleeves in the best way possible. And they can write some incredible stories right now because of it.
Adults, you know what? You have a LOT of feelings. Maybe lately you have run into them more because of the craziness of our world. Or maybe you have gotten very good at shoving them way down. But you have a lot of them, whether you can see them right now or not. And those feelings are dying to tell you a story. They want to tell you more about who you are. They want to tell you more about who your God is. They want to talk to you about your relationships and your passions. And they want you to realize that you are not alone in feelings all those feels.
Be brave like a kindergartner and let your feelings tell you a story this week. I guarantee you it’s a page turner…and sounds vaguely familiar to the person doing life right next to you, too.