|Jinny has been very ill and is currently undergoing rehabilitation in a Bangor facility so she will not be writing her article for awhile. She is making excellent progress and hopes to be able to return to writing her column in the near future... Adele.
I saw a movie a short time ago in which one of the characters, who was facing terrible tragedy and turmoil, was unable to accept help from any of the well meaning people around her. Another character, who's attempts to help her had been met with rejection and belligerence, had a line that I thought was wonderful; he told her, "Accept the good."
Being a fiercely independent person who has engaged in a life-long struggle with ever asking for help, it was particularly meaningful for me. I'm one of those people who will die trying to put out a fire with a squirt gun rather than screaming for help and a garden hose. It's not necessarily a very good way to be.
One of the keys to success is knowing when you need help. My son, Chuck, who is wonderfully bright, suffers from a combination of supreme laziness and benign indifference, a combination that makes his performance in school less than stellar. I have struggled with this situation for many years and have tried every motivational, inspirational, punitive, and behavior modification program that exists. I have had virtually no success whatsoever. I have even been good about asking from help from his various schools and teachers, which turned out to be an exercise in futility as no one seemed inclined to take on the task. Most of them just suggested that I deprive him of everything he cared about, which I have done, with no discernible success whatsoever since it didn't seem to have any real effect on his performance. Frankly, they were consistently not a lot of help.
Chuck is now enrolled in the same Middle School that his older brother and sister attended, a time to which both of them always refer as the best school experience of their lives. In keeping with his pattern, he approached his new school with the same lack of motivation he has displayed in every other educational institution he has ever been a part of. I was feeling pretty desperate and disheartened. I was reminded of how wonderful the principal was when my two older kids were there by a friend of mine and decided to take a chance. With considerably less than great expectations, I gave him a call to ask for his help.
Obviously, I had forgotten just how wonderful this man was. He not only spoke with me immediately when I called, he was already aware of some of Chuck's issues. I cannot tell you the difference between him and every other principal with whom I have ever spoken, including all the ones my children have had and even my own. This man is a wonder. He is not only a fabulous educator, he numbers among the nicest and most genuine people I have ever known. He understood my frustration and concern and was incredibly kind. By the end of the conversation he had me absolutely believing that he was determined to understand and help Chuck, confident that he could find a way to motivate and inspire him, and that he was completely and genuinely dedicated to my son's happiness and success. This man is a marvel, a treasure deserving of all the respect and gratitude that should be heaped upon him by the parents of his students. If every educator were his equal, no child would ever stray or fall by the wayside. I am confident that he can help Chuck and have made myself the self-appointed president of his fan club.
There are people like this in the world; people who are truly dedicated to their calling and consumed by a kind of goodness and kindness that makes them incredibly special and brings a light and warmth to to lives that they touch no matter how briefly. I have met a few of them and I am a better person for having known them. These are the kind of people who bring hope and faith and peace of mind to others and renew our flagging faith in the potential of human beings for selfless service. My two older children revere this man to this day and I want to believe that Chuck will come to feel the same.
I am glad that I asked for help even though I had been disappointed so many times and had little hope of finding it, and I hope that I have sufficient grace to receive that help with the kind of humble gratitude that lets us accept the good.