Seeing with our hearts listening to you, will help you
grow in compassion,
comforting you will help you
make the next choices,
believing in you will help you
take risks and be creative,
appreciating your gifts will
help you share them,
loving and accepting you will help
you love yourself and others,
valuing you as a precious gift,
you too will see with your heart. -Anne M. Picard
by Anne M. Picard
Staying peaceful myself was a challenge in my teaching role as I worked with children who were often in crisis, trying to understand what to do with peers and adults. I wanted to meet children, teachers and parents with compassion. An outcome of my work was writing and illustrating the children's book, "Peace and Pancakes." I realized my desire to contribute in some small way to increasing peace in our confused world by writing about a pancake-loving dragon, a scary giant and a thoughtful gnome/teacher who helps them discover how patience, trust, listening closely, friendship and kindness can make a difference in their world.
Adults around me often misunderstood mistakes the children made as bad, deserving of anger and punishment. Mistakes were not seen as opportunities to learn and for the adults a moment to reflect on what works and how to successfully meet the children's needs.
Children were expected to know answers they did not know through their limited experience. They would look up at me and say "Why is my teacher so angry?" "What did I do wrong?"
"Now what should I do?" Sometimes they did know what was out of place, but didn't care. These children needed more support, validation and nurturing. Getting frustrated with this often punitive and shaming system left me far from peaceful.
A shock for me was to realize my lack of compassion toward myself. I was patient with others, but not aware of where real peace skills begin. If I could listen to myself, I was told, I would be able to hear others in a more compassionate way. Then I would be able to mentor children and teachers by giving them an opportunity to feel what it was like to engage with a peaceful, compassionate person.
My attempts to grow in peace myself have included counseling, meditation, massage, exercise, Tai Chi and the Nonviolent Communication program. My journal writing also increased with my need for more solitude to hear myself fully. What a difference these things have made for children and for myself!
Anne M. Picard is a retired teacher and lives in Vadnais Heights, Minn. She is a former board member of World Citizen, an organization committed to working toward peace.