Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Behind the Tough Shell

Ashley loves to crochet.  Anyone who has ever spoken to her for more then five minutes has probably heard that she loves to crochet.  I'm not talking a passing hobby.  I mean every single day that girl is crocheting something, scarves, hats, gloves, coasters, potholders.  You name it, we most likely have it in some sort of yarn form.

I mentioned in an earlier post how my girls have always come not knowing what they really enjoy.  Ashley thought she might like piano, but after a year, knew it wasn't for her.  She then found crochet and has never looked back.   I think it's good for kids to try new things.  Some things they may find they love, others, not so much.  It's all in the variety.  

So as our house started to fill with crocheted items, Ashley started giving her creations away.  Her first big mission was to crochet scarves for all the kids at the children's home she used to live in.  She needed 68 of them.  Her time was too limited for her to make the deadline so her sister jumped in and helped cut some felt scarves to fill the gap.  The next year she crocheted all the girls ponytail holders.  

I asked her one day why it was so important for her to send those kids something.  Her answer was that living there was so hard that she just wanted them to open a scarf at Christmas time and maybe, for just a few minutes, they would forget that it was so hard.  Let's just say I may have teared up.

It really prompted me to think what it must be like for those kiddos.  Every single one of them has ended up there through no fault of their own.  But that doesn't change the fact that they're stuck.  It hurts my heart to think of little Ashley in that life.  The Ashley I know now has been somewhat shaped by that experience.  I thank God it made her more compassionate, more thoughtful, more giving and more tenderhearted.  She truly is the nicest person that lives in my house.  The rest of us could learn a lot from her.

Ashley has given away as many scarves as we have friends and family members.  Once she had exhausted all possibilities, she took the next step.  We opened her an Etsy store.  She now has a place for all those crocheted items and thankfully it's in someone else's house.

I wonder what the people who knew Ashley then would think about the Ashley we know now.  She is much different.  They didn't know who she really was.  She didn't know who she really was.  She was always the amazing person she is now, it was just hidden under a lot of hurt.

How many kids are like that?  How many of the difficult students in your classroom are really diamonds in the rough?  How many, given the opportunity, would come out of their hard shells and be stellar students or incredible givers or considerate helpers?  I bet you can't even imagine that hard-to-handle student being anything but mean or rude or rough, but they could be.  

What if you looked past all the surface craziness and started searching for the real behind the tough?  The tough is what gets them through the day.  What if they learned they didn't need the tough in your classroom?  What if they learned they could be themselves with you?  What if everyday they knew that for one or four or seven hours they could show a little bit of who they really are?  I think that would  make you a hero.  Maybe not to the world.  But to that kid and to me.


Pam DAlessandro said...

This is a lesson we all need to learn. I love what you said about washing the outside of the cup and not filling up the inside. I have had many students and the ones that finally broke out of their shells and let me love them are the ones I am the most thankful for. I have always said that I never changed the student, the student changed me. I grew more with those students than any other student. Ashley sounds like the most amazing little girl. To be so productive with her hands and heart is amazing for such a young girl. Crocheting for the children shows the depth of her compassion. Please give all your girls a hug from a mom, grandmom, and teacher in NC! Pam

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A House Called Home said...

Pam -
Thank you for your thoughtful comment! I also am thankful for those who finally let me in enough to see who they really are.
(and the girls got those hugs!)

I am Bullyproof Music - Lessia Bonn said...

What an inspiring article and young girl. Both my grown sons still have blankets I crocheted from them when they were little. I recognize the pattern! School therapists often send me their troubled kids to work with. I've had a lot of luck getting through their protective crust with humor, I so relate to what you're talking about. It's awesome when the real kid finally pops out.

A House Called Home said...

Lessia -
What a skill you have! Ashley has tried to teach me to crochet, but it's just not in me like it is her. Keep plugging away at those hard to reach kids. They are worth every minute and you will be remembered by each one of them!

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