Did you know that an elephant portrayed with its trunk raised is good luck? This lucky elephant greeted me in my classroom today. As I opened the pencil eraser box that it was contained in I realized that the emotions that quickly overwhelmed me were about more than the recent symbolism this has for my family. Random acts of kindness by friends. Isn’t that what it really is all about? This random act of kindness comes at a time when life has thrown our family a bit of a curve ball. We all get them thrown our way. But I realize that it’s the unexpected response by friends that help you get through those curve balls. Which leads me to social media.
Many people use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Teachers do, students do, almost everyone does! There have been lots of pros and cons about such social media. Isolation is one of the cons as is inappropriate usage. But this elephant represents one positive force of the social media I use often, Facebook. I posted something about an elephant with a raised trunk on my Facebook page. It was an elephant that my daughter received in the mail from the sister of a friend she just lost. This loss is the curve ball that our family has been thrown. A coworker and friend saw that posting. She didn’ t reply but she saw it, read it, and was moved to make my day a little brighter by sharing something special to her and now to me, the lucky elephant in the above picture. And that leads me to the power of friends.
If you’ve ever had a friend, a true friend then you know of this power. Our kids are going to show up on our school doorstep in less than one week. And I bet there is nothing higher on their wish list for this school year than the desire to have a friend, a real friend. As teachers our job is to, well, teach. We teach the reading, writing, ‘rithmetic. Sure. But we teach so much more. Very often we find ourselves teaching how to be a good friend, how to pick a good friend, how to act with your friends. As we do this there are some fabulous books about unlikely friendships that we may choose to share with our kids. One of my favorites is about Tara the Elephant and Bella, her dog friend. I read that book every year and every year I get the same response. The kids love it.
They know I love elephants. And I love unlikely friends. And I love when unlikely friends give you an elephant 🙂 Thank you Gi for your friendship, kindness, and lucky elephant to help me start my school year. I promise to take very good care of it and pass it on when the universe says to. But for now, I’m going to hold onto it as a reminder that I am not in this alone and that I’m lucky enough to experience the power of a friend.
May you all have a year filled with friendships and good luck. Happy New School Year!
PS – There are many wonderful picture books about unlikely friendships that are great read alouds and perfect for beginning those very important converstations about friendship and kindness. Owen and Mzee is another of my kids’ favorite unlikely friendship picture books.