I wrote this several months ago, before starting this blog, but as many of us are sending our children back to school, it seemed appropriate to re-post it here!
My life seems to be full of flashbacks lately, with people and places I hadn’t really thought of in years coming back to the surface. I had a flashback the other day, though, that stopped me in my tracks, and made me think two things: one, I am SO glad I am not a little girl anymore, and two, I pray I can guide our daughter to be the kind of little girl I want her to be.
The kids and I were out on the school playground after dismissal, going down slides, playing in the ground-up tire mulch, talking with friends. One of our friends this year is a third-grade girl who is particularly fond of my little one. As soon as she comes out on the playground, she runs and greets my toddler with a hug. In return, my daughter has come to expect this and gives her a somewhat shy “hi” and a hug in return. I especially care for this girl because she reminds me a lot of myself at that age and beyond–very proud and excited about accomplishments in school, and content to be who she is, whether it earns her any “popularity points” or not. She seems very eager to converse with the moms, to show and tell them what she can do, in an earnest but sweet way. She is kind, patient, and attentive to the other toddlers who come to play with their older siblings.
But, like me, I can tell she is also very earnest in her attempts to be liked and accepted by all of her peers. Her birthday is coming up in April, right near my son’s. She has already asked us if we will come to her party multiple times. The other day, she saw a group of her own classmates, other third-grade girls. I’ve seen them on the playground for the past year, and they’re a pretty tight group. I have no problems with groups. Certain people gravitate to other certain people and form tight bonds. I did that, too, and still do. Our sweet friend walked over to the group of girls and told them she hoped they’d be able to come to her party, too. She didn’t give a specific date or time. One of the girls replied with, “Oh, we’re going to so-and-so’s party that day. And then we’re having a playdate at so-and-so’s house. All day.” She didn’t say it maliciously, and I know they’re still just 8 or 9 years old, but that reply stabbed at my heart all the same.
I looked over at our little friend to see how she would respond. I saw the hurt pass over her face. But then I saw her walk away from where she was standing, towards my daughter and me, a few feet away. She took hold of my girl’s little hand, and said, “well, they’re going to be missing out on the best party ever!”. I don’t think I was that resilient at that age. My heart still ached for her, but I also found a new admiration for her–and for her parents, who have clearly been teaching her about things like true friendship and knowing that being accepted and loved by God is far more important, joy-giving, and lasting.