by SHARON WELLS
Principal, Parkside Elementary School
My college roommates live in several different states and we try our best to see each other at least once a year. As we cram our time together into a short weekend in a central location, we all rush to share the latest events of our lives, from family news to updates on our jobs and interests. We joke with each other that “it’s all about me” as we try to quickly fill each other in on the past year’s experiences before someone interrupts with their own chapters to share. While we may be focused on sharing about ourselves momentarily, our ultimate goal is to listen and appreciate each other’s lives, and learn from our unique experiences and approaches to life.
One thing that stands out about our brief reunions is how everyone values the time spent together. One roommate always brings along a token gift to remind us of our college days, or of past trips together. Many of these items adorn the desk in my office to keep these memories alive as I go through my daily routines. Another roommate always takes the time to send handwritten notes when we return from our visits to emphasize how much it meant that we were able to relive our “dorm days” and spend quality time catching up. The use of e-mail, texting, and cell phones is great for in-between visits, but nothing can replace that time where we laugh uncontrollably about our college antics, cry about the recent loss of a parent, or share advice about how to deal with our children in their various stages in life.
As your families spend time away from school this summer, my hope is that you find that quality time with friends, neighbors and family. Initiate those brief but powerful reunions with special people in your lives. Maybe you have a former child care provider who impacted your kids’ lives, who you can thank now that the kids are growing up. Perhaps a neighbor who moved away would love to be invited back to the neighborhood for a visit. Some cousins you haven’t connected with in a while may appreciate some time with family. Visit a former place of worship. Take a drive to see family members who don’t live just around the corner.
Regardless of whom you choose to spend time with, take the time to listen as much as you share. All of us can stand to learn from the paths that others have journeyed.
Alfred Tennyson stated, “I am a part of all that I have met.” Take time this summer to grow from those you spend quality time with. Soon you will be inundated with “back to school” advertisements begging for your attention and your pocketbooks. Before that race begins, spend time with those who mean the most to you, and be refreshed before the new school year begins.