As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children an untruth. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. However, that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.
Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. In addition, Teddy could be unpleasant.
It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X’s and then putting a big “F” at the top of his papers.
At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child’s past records and she put Teddy’s off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.
Teddy’s first grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners… he is a joy to be around..”
His second grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.”
His third grade teacher wrote, “His mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best, but his father doesn’t show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren’t taken.”
Teddy’s fourth grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends and he sometimes sleeps in class.”
By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy’s. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper That he got from a grocery bag Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of perfume.. But she stifled the children’s laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, “Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to.” After the children left, she cried for at least an hour.
On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children. Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her “teacher’s pets..”
A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling* her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.
Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in life.
Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he had ever had in his whole life.
Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer…. The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.
The story does not end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he had met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit at the wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom.
Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. Moreover, she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.
They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson’s ear, “Thank you Mrs. Thompson for* believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference.”
Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, “Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn’t know how to teach until I met you.”
(For you that don’t know, Teddy Stoddard is the Dr. at Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines that has the Stoddard Cancer Wing.)
Warm someone’s heart today. . . pass this along. I love this story so very much, I cry every time I read it. Just try to make a difference in someone’s life today? Tomorrow? Just “do it”.
“The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is”
My wonderful 9 year old son is so much like Jim Carrey! He is deeply sensitive to other people’s negative emotions and he tries so hard to transform those into positive ones by making people laugh. His auntie came to meet him when he was just a few hours old, looked into his eyes, and saw the light and laughter in them, even then. She declared that he was going to be a ‘cheeky little chap’, and he is indeed! He’s ‘the class joker’, the one who loves to make people giggle and raise their vibration. Interestingly though, he doesn’t like performing on stage – he’s a one-to-one person, tuning into individual feelings and doing what he can to help them feel better, whether it’s offering a hug, encouragement and support, or a silly joke to make them laugh.
What can YOU do today, with YOUR talents, to leave people feeling better after an interaction with you/your work…?
One of the common things pregnant women and new mothers complain about is that they have developed ‘Baby Brain’ (sometimes known as ‘Nappy Brain’) – the seeming inability to function as the rational, logical human being they were BEFORE they conceived. But there IS a good reason for this apparent ‘loss’ of brain function, you’ll be glad to know!
To begin to understand why this happens, we need to look a little bit at the structure of the brain as science currently believes it to be. Any neurologists reading this article can just skip the next bit! To anyone who ISN’T a neurologist; I promise, I’ll make this as painless as possible…
Brain Science for Dummies!
A healthy adult brain consists of two sides (known as hemispheres), and a collection of tissue between the two hemispheres that links them together, called the corpus callosum. When a baby is born, its brain is not fully formed. During the first year after birth, a baby’s brain develops at the SAME rate as it did before the birth, and the corpus callosum is not fully developed until about 3 years old.
The two sides of the brain process information in different, but both equally vital, ways. The left side of the brain deals with the logical, rational, linear, linguistic etc, information we receive and the right hemisphere deals with the intuitive, creative, body language etc. It registers painful feelings and picks up emotional atmospheres. It has much stronger links with the body than the left hemisphere so can quickly register how your body is coping with an emotional event.
The corpus callosum, when fully developed, allows communication between the two hemispheres. But until this time, babies and young children do not have the words (a left-brained function) to explain their feelings (a right-brained function). They have no real left-brain activity until they reach 3 years old, so need to use their instincts/intuition to survive and their body language to communicate their needs to their care givers.
OK, the lesson in brain science is over. Now there’s one more thing we need to understand, and that’s hormones and how they change during pregnancy and birth. One of the key hormones is oxytocin. Oxytocin is the hormone that makes us feel love (of ANY kind, not just the love we feel for our babies) and is at its highest levels when we fall in love, during love-making, during labour and when we are breastfeeding. A good way to remember its functions is to remember it’s the hormone of the 3 L’s – labour, love and lactation! It’s also been called the hormone of the 3 F’s – and there’s a gold star to anyone who can email me with the three F-words!! Another useful way to remember what it does is “tend and be friend” (a bit like the good old “fight, freeze or flight” for another hormone, adrenaline). Incidentally, the level of oxytocin also rises when we share food with somebody else, hence the importance of sitting together for meals in creating and maintaining strong family bonds.
Mothers are in their Right Minds!
Before pregnancy, particularly in our Western culture, the focus of our adult brain largely tends to be on the left – the logical, linguistic side. But when we become pregnant, our brain focus tends to start naturally shifting to adapt us to use the right side more. The way this happens is that oxytocin works to muffle the left-brain so the right-brain can take over more. This is a necessary part of beginning the transition to parenthood and is vital for nurturing. As already stated, babies and young children do not have a fully developed left-brain until about 3, which is why you can’t reason with a toddler, particularly a tantruming one!! Therefore, in order to be able to nurture our babies and toddlers, and understand their needs, we need to have our instinctive antennae for body language and other non-verbal behaviour tuned into our child’s frequency, which means using our right brain much more.
This shift can be disconcerting for women if they are left-brain dominant – particularly as having ‘baby-brain’ tends to have negative connotations; we never hear anyone say “Great, I’m so forgetful today! Must be my right brain taking over so I can tune into my baby better!” This shift isn’t permanent, but will remain whilst our children are young. Eventually, we can even switch brain dominance during the course of a day, allowing women to function in their pre-pregnant left brain state whilst, say, at work. But switch back to their right brain state when they are back with their children.
Ultimately then, it’s not so much that our brains decline, but that we spontaneously shift the focus of our brain to become intuitive, nurturing mothers. So the next time you feel less than logical, instead of berating yourself, simply remember that you’re actually in your ‘right mind’ and that you’re instinctively doing exactly what you need to do to be the best mother to your baby!!