Monday, March 23, 2009

Goldfish Crackers Are Totally Sunny Side Up

So yummy, those little goldfish crackers, with their salty melt-in-your-mouth goodness and friendly little smile. I don't know a kid under seven who doesn't love a goldfish cracker (that's not to say there isn't one out there, I just haven't met him/her yet). Maybe it's the teacher in me? I don't know, but I have to admit...I love goldfish crackers. In fact, the little guys make me feel happy. You probably find that odd. (But that's okay, seeing as how you already know I'm odd.) When I think of goldfish crackers, I think of snack time at preschool, my kids chillin' in the recliners, zoo trips, and 16 hours riding in the car to visit grandparents. All of which (including the extreme road trips), I find delightful.

I have been thinking about optimism for a solid week. Optimistic isn't a word I would normally use to describe myself, but neither is pessimistic. I don't usually see things as "glass half-full" or "glass half-empty"...I'm more of a "there's juice in that glass" kind of girl. Accepting the amount that's in the glass...I am truly grateful if it has the amount I need or want. And I look for ways to add to what's in the glass, if there isn't enough. For the most part, I see things for what they are. Realistic is the word I would normally use to describe myself. (I know some of you think when I write about politics, I am pessimistic. Of course, I disagree. I just put it all out there, and hope we can make things better.)

But, throughout the past week, I realized that when it comes to children (mine and other people's), I am a complete optimist. For me to make it in this world as a mother and teacher, I have to be optimistic. If not, I would probably throw in the towel. And that's just not an option. Because if I give up, there are children who will feel the consequences. There are examples upon examples of this in all of our lives.

I teach at a preschool that draws in a large Korean community. Last year, a three year old girl entered my classroom knowing only two words of English. I had no idea what I was going to do. But, I knew that I had to remain optimistic, even especially on the days we both wanted to cry because of the frustrating barrier that separated us. Deep down, I really believed that if we worked together (and this included her parents, who were completely dedicated to improving their own English skills so they could help their daughter), this little girl would be able to acclimate and easily make friends with other children in the classroom. It was no simple task. But when we combined a positive outlook with the efforts of hard-working parents, classmates, and teachers, we found success. This year, I have been blessed with the privilege of teaching this child again. Last week, she handed me a piece of paper. On that paper she had written her name, and the entire alphabet. "You taught me this.", she said. She has become quite the little classroom leader. She is compassionate and happy as can be. There were days last year when thoughts of failure crept into my mind. But, I didn't let them stay for long. Neither did she. We didn't have a choice.

When I see my sick little boyfriend (for those of you who don't know who he is, read this), I see complete healing. I choose to feel optimistic. When I think of my new found "baby lost mama" friends, I know they will have opportunities to be mothers again. Notice that word again? They are already mothers. When I look at my own children, I believe they will find success and happiness. When I think of my Victoria, I know I will see her again. Do you understand? Throwing in the towel is not an option here. It would serve no good purpose. I have learned it's possible to be a realist about mostly everything, while being a complete optimist when it comes to something else. My "something else" is children, all of them.


Pepperidge Farms, the maker of our tasty little goldfish friends, has partnered with Dr. Reivich, co-author of "The Optimistic Child" and head of a research program (studying the benefits of positive thinking) at the University of Pittsburgh. She is also a mother, which of course adds to her credibility in this arena. They have begun a movement called "Fishful Thinking". It's an initiative dedicated to raising Optimistic, Resilient, and Empowered children. I am definitely on board with this project! It's all so Sunny Side Up, just like The Captain!

And, to add to the excitement, Tiffany is sponsoring an Optimism Pays contest. Check it out, and if you are feeling the love, leave her a comment with a vote for me! If I win, I'll share my goldfish crackers with you. Because, that's just the kind of girl I am!

p.s. Coming Soon: A tribute to some lovely ladies....

20 comments:

Kristina P. said...

Interesting post. LIke you, I would describe myself as a realist. WE have a coworker who is an eternal optimist, and only sees the good in people. Which is a nice asset sometimes, but then he gets blindsided by when they screw him over.

Fiauna said...

Wonderful. We definitely need optimism in this world. I think, somewhere down the line, pessimism crept in and started polluting everything. Thanks for making me smile today!

jen said...

I voted for you today, and let me tell you why.
After my weeklong foray into the great northeastern unknown, I came home to a totally clean house, washed laundry, located Sunday clothes, and happy family. The only drawback was my messy pantry. And what did I find in there this morning? A crystal bowl of unknown origin, filled with fishy crackers. They made me smile as I poured them into their appropriate canister. Then I read your post, and I knew it was a sign!
Happiness today!

mom said...

WARNING: The foregoing post contains 100% verifiable truth...
Snarky is exactly what you just read!

I guess the most important thing for people to know is that mixed in with her political excitement and fervor, peppered with great concern, is this amazing person who seems to "ride the waves" of life with amazing hope and courage...after all isn't that what any good fish would do!

To some, it might appear that she can often be found attempting to swim upstream, but that only occurs when she finds herself surrounded by a "school" of thought that seemingly would try and pervert the waters around her....

Even when Snarky has found herself thrust into the dark stormy waters that might engulf her life...although she is tiny, her strength to continue swimming in search of calmer waters has always prevailed.

So...yes, Snarky Belle has my vote..to those of us who know her and love her...she is "golden."

KC Mom said...

Save me some of those optimistic crackers!

karen said...

I like optimism. And I like goldfish crackers. Maybe that's why I like you. I'm off to vote.

Laretha said...

I love optimism! I have been trying to post positive things. I think our world needs it right now!

Hugs - L

MammaWarrior said...

You always spark goose bumps when I read your words of such prolific wisdom! Thank you thank you thank you! It is woman like you that make a difference in all chldren! You are the ones that should be signing a million dollar contract for your work, not some men wearing shoulder pads and chasing a ball. YOU and every other selfless teacher make the world go round! ((hugs))

mom said...

Calling all Snarkettes!!!
CAST your VOTE for NATALIE......
Hurry, Hurry, Hurry....time is almost up!!

Click on "Tiffany is sponsoring an Optimism pays" or whatever the link says....scroll down to comments and simply say,
"I vote for Natalie" (say "Natalie"..she is number 50).

Thanks, snarkettes!
Snarky Mama

K2cole said...

I voted!! I love the way you (an your mom) paint with words. I have several friends (Jen) with that ability and I envy it, enjoy it (because I love to read), and am touched by it. Thanks for your thoughts.

Karen

em said...

go nat go!!!! i vote nat!!!!

The Blonde Duck said...

Popping in to say hi from SITS!

Aubrey said...

Whenever I went to the zoo as a girl, my mom would buy me Ritz Cheese Crackers. They were pricey for us at the time, so they were a definite treat. Anyway, she just bought some the other day and I told her that one of my favorite things was going to the zoo because I knew she'd put aside her cheapness and get me those :) Goldfish are so great!!! Love them.

I'm glad that your little boyfriend is doing better :)

Valsy said...

When I think of the goldfish, I think of the ANderson boys bathroom. Nice eh?

When the Girl was three, we were home in AK that summer for Matt's trip to the Holy Land. I stayed home because I AM that kind of supportive wife.

We were at the inlaws and Aubrey found an empty bowl/vase of water in the boy's bathroom. She actually had some of those fish she was snacking on and figured they would like a swim. She tossed some in, and they swelled up like those dogs or "grow a husband" plastic shrinkies that grow 600%. They floated aound like real fish for several days, and I never had a heart to toss them out since they looked so happy, "swimming" freely in their bowl with that big smile on their face.

When I am with you, in a box, with a fox, in a shoe, in a car, in the woods, in the city, etc... I have that same kind of happy look on my face.

As an owner of about 97 fish, I can say they usually don't look so happy. Especially before they are about to be eaten or flushed down the toliet.

little jill said...

There you go again. We're eerily alike.

I used to be super positive in high school, before life happened. But I wouldn't say I'm pessimistic now. Just more of a realist.

I like your version of juice in the glass.

I'm good with that.

Mommy (You can call me OM) said...

Thank you for the pep talk, Natalie. I'm in such a funk now, but it's not the cancer. It's E. I will try to remember she is with me now and one day I will hold her. Thank you.

Rachel T. said...

My internet was acting up and I was unable to comment on this blog yesterday. But what an amazing post. Its hard to be an optimist in the world we are in today. Its easier to see the doom and gloom instead of the positive in our world. I had a dream two nights ago and you were in it. I don't remember any details to the dream other than waking up thinking wow Nat wanted to say hi in my dreams lol. Hope you win the contest!

Amy said...

yeah on your win. What a nice post.

The Rambler said...

Thanks so much for visiting me on my SITS day :)

Angie said...

I worked with children when I was practicing socail work for the same reason--the hope.