This story starts with the zip-line. If you don't know what a zip-line is don't worry, neither did I. I didn't even know how it is called, i had to seach for it. A zip-line is mostly used by mounting climbers and it is formed of a pulley suspended on a cable which can slide between two pillars installed at a distance from each other. Any psysics teacher would be more then happy to explain the functionality of a zip-line. Its purpose ussually is to help transport people or things from a higher spot to a lower spot with the help of gravity, like from the top of the mountain down.
Why do i bother with the zip-line? Because we have one in the playground behind our church. Ofcourse this is a very small small one, for children. The pillars are a few metters away from each other and the short slide along the line is only for fun. It never raised my interest until a few weeks ago at the church picnic for Mother's Day.
As the grills were smoking and food started to appear on the tables Katka got tired very fast of the sand pit, the swings and all the other atractions on the playground and her eyes turned ofcourse to the zip-line.
"I want to try this, mama."
It was what i was fearing most. In my head i was imagining already all the possible ways in which she will fall and injure herself.
"Katka, you are too small for it, look all the kid sliding are bigger then you."
"That is not true, i am a big girl."
Yeah, i understand the confusion. I always tell her she is a big girl when she buttons her own shirt, puts on her own shoes and askes for the potty. But when wanting to use the zip-line she is sudednttly too small. Yes, i know, we mother sometimes are so hypocritical. It comes somehow with the job.
"What is happening, Cristina?"
I turn around and our priest is behind me, come to check how the games are going on the playground.
"Katka wants to try also the zip-line, but she is too small and she can fall."
I stop, somehow i feel like a kid complaining to the teacher about another kid. But I am confident he will take my side. However i am surprised.
"Ofcourse she can try, she will not fall at all, we will explain her how to hold herself."
"Yes, i am a big girl." my kid reminds me again.
"Come, mamina, let's let the girl try!"
The priest goes to the group of the bigger kids sliding on the line and explains to them in a funny and friendly way that they must not play alone but help and include the smaller children.
The he helped Katka with his own hands sit down in the swing attached to the pulley, he himself explained to her how to hold herself. My heart was in my stomach:
"She will fall, she will fall!"
I stopped again, i didn't even realized i said these words aloud.
"She will not fall, trust me!"
If it is one person i trust it is definitely our priest. I remained quiet while he pushed the swing and while it slided slong the line Katka was laughting with pleasure. When back on the ground she was telling me how great it was and how good she held herself. That afternoon Katka was playing on the zip line for at least one hour.That day Katka learned a lot of things: she learned how to use the zip line, se learned how to share a toy with other children and she learned how to wait in line for her turn.
Thinking about this in the evening i realized my priest was right, again, and he gave me a lesson i needed to learn: that i need to have more trust in my kid and stop behaving like an overprotective mother. We mothers, unfortunatelly look on our children and see themn small and helpless even if this is not true.
Also as i went to bed i tried to imagine how the old ladies in my home town and my neighbours and even my teachers were solving these kind of situations when i was small. I laughed. How manny times had my mother been scared and forbit me to do something, how many times i would have liked for somebody to speak on my behalf and they didn't or they did it in the wrong way. When i was small people would ussually take sides. Some would be on my mother's side and scream at me for being a bad child, some would be on my side and scream at my mother for being overprotective. None were healping. Our priest didn't took any side. He saw a situation in which he could help and he did it. He understood Katka's willingness to try the zip line and he understood also my fear. Instead of critising he stood between us and helped us both.
In the 7 years i came to this church and durring the time i have converted to catholic religion our priest has taught me many lessons and answered many questions. But what i liked about it is that he has the talent of teaching you and showing you the right thing whitout telling you you are wrong. He teaches through his own example.
In the first year, when i started coming to mass there was a time i was not crossing myself when entering the church. He never complained about it, he nerver asked me why i don't do it, he never critisised me. One day he waited for me before mass, he asked me to come with him in the church and showed me how he is doing the cross himself. Then he waited for me to do it and reminded me that i can always ask questions when i don't understand something. I have never forgotten to cross myself again.
When i was small a similar case happend to me, my teacher caught me not doing something i was supposed to do. So she critised me and humiliated me in front of the whole classroom. Also my grandmother as punishment refused to hug me for a week. The only thing that remained to me from this was the hatred and anger at this punishment.
As i look back on these things i wish more teachers were like my priest, i wish children were educated in this way.
I have learned many things from our priest but the most important is not to critise. And wheater you are a believer or not you have to admit this is a pretty good lesson. I learned to be patient with Katka and with people around me. I learned that if i want Katka to be good i have to be good myself, if i want her to eat helthy i have to eat healty too, if i want her to say "please" and "thank you" i need to say it first.
I learned that one small gesture of kidness is like a riple on the surface of water, you can never know how far it will go and if the heart you touch will not help and touch many other hearts in its own time.