A couple of weeks ago I came home from work to find my husband in a state of urgent excitement. It seemed that our seven year old granddaughter Victoria's class was going to be studying Nunavut and the North West Territories. You have to know three things about Paul. He loves travel and has been to the North West Territories, he loves his grandchildren even more than he loves to travel--and when he's on a mission--he's on a mission. So when I found him on a hunt for the photos and video he'd taken, of the Arctic ocean, pingoes and aboriginal dancers, even if it meant turning our upstairs closet inside out on a night when people were coming for dinner and cell group--I knew my priorities--and dinner came second!
No child ever was prepared with more "stuff." Paul insisted on referring to Victoria's "presentation," no matter how many times our daughter Brenda, told him, "Dad, it's not a presentation." He quizzed her on how pingoes were formed and he put the video onto a d.v.d for her to share with her class. He also gave her photos, and a small inuksuk--a stone monument used by the Inuit for communication and survival--in the shape of a human being.
The day of the much anticipated class Brenda went to meet Victoria from the school bus. From Victoria's face, she knew right away something was wrong. It was red and she was very angry. "Joshua broke the inuksuk," she said.
She went straight to her room and stayed there, too upset to talk--she needed to process her feelings on her own. Brenda said to her, "Honey, Granddad loves you more than any pile of rocks," but Victoria couldn't bring herself to come upstairs (they live in the lower half of the house we share).
Eventually she did the thing she dreaded, told her granddad the terrible thing that had befallen the inuksuk. As Brenda had predicted, Paul put his arms around her and said, "Victoria, there is nothing in this house that matters as much as you."
It was a day of important lessons and they weren't about the North West Territories. Accidents happen. Stuff may be precious, but it's only stuff--and people matter infinitely more--a fact one little girl knows now--because she has experienced it.