The Essence of Presence
I am not one to pen my thoughts and, truth be told, I had no clue of what I want to write for the blog post of the month. But I began pondering my time here at Morning Star, and that’s when I realised that working here has taught me an important lesson in being present for the people you most care about.
Having been a business student with no experience working with children, I was not surprised when my family and friends found it rather odd that I had chosen to go on this path. I guess that I’d felt a calling and desire to interact with and serve in the community. But I must admit that the beginning was not a bed of roses.
I had a tough time trying to manage the children who displayed behavioural issues. It was easy to label these kids as “problematic”, “rude” and “defiant”. When I felt the weight of these challenges, doubts periodically peppered my mind.
“Is this something I really want to do?”
“Can I even handle the children?”
But it was only when I’d started getting to know the children that I discovered the troubling issues they faced at home. It was heartbreaking to see what some of them had to go through at such an early age, and yet frustrating at times when I was unable to handle the undesired behaviours that were manifested as a result of the stress in their families. I found myself getting caught up in my own emotions and would spend dinner nights ranting to my friends about the injustice that some of these children had to go through.
Yet, there was always that call to serve. I would spend the little pockets of time during lunch, tea break and play time to try and get to know these kids a little better. We chatted about the most random things, and as I worked on building a rapport with the children at the centre, they began to open up to me, initiating conversations and some even readily sharing about their personal lives. I began to notice that some of the children who had been giving me a hard time before were starting to become more cooperative and willing to listen.
This gradual improvement came from simply building a relationship with the children. It was a timely reminder to me of the importance of being truly present to the people around us. We spend so much time working hard for our families that we sometimes forget to be wholeheartedly present for them. We spend more time on our smart devices instead of finding out how our loved one’s day went. We all need a listening ear every now and then, whether it is to share good news or to voice out our frustrations; it is always comforting to have someone there to listen. And just like all of us, children need that affirmation and reassurance too.
It has been so heartening to witness how all my fellow colleagues go above and beyond their call of duty to serve and support our children in the centres. The experiences I have had working with these kids for the past three years have been nothing short of humbling, amazing and fulfilling. Working with children has brought me great joy and taught me of the precious essence of presence.