We pull into a parking lot full of minivans and SUV's at our local playground, Melia exclaims, "there are lots of kids here!". She was correct, kids were on every swing and every part of the play structure. We walk down the path and she runs off ahead to join in the flurry of fun. Off to the side sit 5 moms with strollers, chairs, coolers, water bottles, diaper bags, lunch bags...get the picture...they were camped out and going to be there a while. Between the 5 moms, there were, yes count them, 15 kids. Being the middle of the afternoon they all had to be 6 (kindergarten age) and under, since school was in session. The youngest looked to be about 18 months and the boy:girl ratio was pretty even.
Eva runs to the swings (something she screamed in terror from just a few short weeks ago) which she now loves. Parker is just chillin by the slide and Melia makes her first attempt to make new friends.
With a frown across her face, head bowed, and shoulders slumped, she walked over to me and said, "mommy, they won't play with me." Her first attempt was with a group of boys, so I said why don't you go ask those girls if you can play them. With a new found confidence, off she went. She is out of earshot, but I see her say something to the them. The girls promptly put there arms around each others shoulders and form a circle excluding Melia. My heart was breaking for her. Again she walks over to me defeated. She plays on her own for a few minutes and then decides she will give it another attempt. She asks another little girl to play, who is playing alone, and again is turned down. This time it was probably due to shyness on the part of the little girl. - the whole time we were there this little one carried her baby and sucked her thumb not playing with anyone. She comes to me again and says, "Mommy why won't they play with me?"
I explained that all these kids know each other and probably play together often. That sometimes it's hard to make new friends. Some kids are shy etc. "I want to go home," she says. Not wanting her to face anymore rejection, I oblige and off we go. As we walk back to the car she says, "I want to play with Grace, remember her, she was wearing tights" (Grace was a little girl that she met a few weeks back at the park; they immediately ran off and played together with out a thought) (tights are a new found love of Melia's and the fact that she was wearing them must of made an impact :)
When we get in the car, she says, "that wasn't nice." Everything in me wants to yell out, your right, those kids weren't being nice. But I don't, I simply explain that when other kids are around and they want to play, that we need to show them love and be their friend. It feels good to have friends and be kind. She says, "yea, that didn't make me feel good." Again, I reiterated, how important it is for us to show love to everyone, no matter how someone looks, young or old, or shy or outgoing. It does not have to be complicated, we just have to be willing.
Everything in me wanted to protect her from the rejection, from the hurt she was feeling. Unfortunately, this is real life and things don't always go the way we think they should. All I can pray is that she learned a lesson today on how to treat others and show love, even when she may not want to. Thankfully kids are resilient, we are home and she is playing with Eva and Parker and extremely excited about it.
Not that I expected that I would be included and have this new found group of friends immediately, but not once did the other moms give me a glance, smile, or even a nod. I could, on a small level, relate with my sweet little girl today. My heart hurt for her.
I was reminded of something today. A nod, smile, eye contact, and/or a hello can make an impact on a persons day more than we may even realize. As adults it is sometimes hard for us to show love to those around us. Stress, burdens, and life seem to wear us down. Who wants to show love when we are wallowing in our own stuff.
I want to encourage you to stop and take a look around through out your day, be intentional and show the love of Christ to others. You may not ever know the impact you have, but I can guarantee you will be better for it. Live to Love today!!!!