Do we have the power to influence the lives of children?

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Yes we do.

That influence can be good or it can be bad so it’s important to pay attention to what we’re saying with our words, and with our actions.

Mary painting at homeMy sister, Mary Riesche of Mary Riesche Studios, inspired this blog post.

For several weeks this summer, Mary taught an art class at The Leaven summer fun program in the town of Vacaville, California where she resides. As is often the case when parents sign their kids up for activities, not every child is enthusiastic about being forced to have fun with others.

That was the case for one of Mary’s students in her weekly classes. A thirteen year old boy – at least five years older than the rest of the students – couldn’t have cared less that my sister volunteered her time to pass along her passion for painting to the young participants. His weekly modus operandi was to quickly, and haphazardly, make whatever project my sister put before him, followed by him then crossing his arms in front of him while the rest of the children worked painstakingly to create what Mrs. Riesche had taught them to create.

During one particular class, the thirteen year old said that he didn’t like what he had done; that he needed to erase it or better yet, give up on the project. My sister stepped in and said the following to him, and I paraphrase:

Never give up, just keep going. You never know when what you consider to be a mistake may eventually turn into something remarkable.

As the very last art class of The Leaven’s artistic summer fun session came to a close a couple weeks ago, the Director queried the children, “What did you learn from your time in Mrs. Riesche’s art classes this summer?”

What happened next caught my sister totally off guard. The thirteen year old boy raised his hand, and said, “That I should never give up. That I should keep going regardless of how I feel about something.”

And there, my friends, is influence in action.

I told Mary I was certain this young boy would carry that lesson on tenacity with him into high school, college, and beyond. Perhaps he won’t remember the art teacher who made that lasting impression on him – I’d like to think that he will – but he will most certainly remember the sage advice my sister bestowed on him the summer of 2016.

Congratulations, Mary Riesche. You changed a child’s life forever.

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6 thoughts on “Do we have the power to influence the lives of children?

    Jill Weatherholt said:
    August 15, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Well done, Mary! Gosh, she’s talented…that painting is beautiful!

      boomer98053 responded:
      August 15, 2016 at 2:19 pm

      Thanks, Jill. I’ll make sure Mary sees your comment. She is so talented and has been dedicated to her craft her entire life. Truthfully, her entire life.

        Jill Weatherholt said:
        August 16, 2016 at 5:53 am

        She has a beautiful smile too! 🙂

          boomer98053 responded:
          August 16, 2016 at 7:40 am

          Aw, thanks, Jill. I think so too.

    ddesonier said:
    August 15, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    What an amazing story. My wonderful sister Mary’s presence, patience and total caring and dedication empowered this – at least initially! – resistant student to open up and be receptive to an important life lesson. Whether we are teachers or mentors or guides or simply being present to others, we never know what influence we might have on those – young or old – with whom we interact. That speaks to the beauty, and power, of being truly present to others.

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