My oldest starts kindergarten tomorrow morning. No more two days a week pre-school, no more half days; but all day kindergarten. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around where the past 5, almost 6, years have gone.
In honor of her big day tomorrow, I invited her out to dinner tonight. I wanted to begin a tradition for she and I (as well as my other kids). I wanted to share some one-on-one time with her. And I wanted to offer her some words of wisdom and encouragement as she begins this new journey.
Everything was going as planned. She got dressed up. I arrived home from work to pick her up for our date. She selected the restaurant. You might think she would pick Chuck E. Cheese or McDonald’s. Nope, not my girl… Red Lobster. We arrived, walked in and checked in with the hostess. We went through our routine of checking on Larry the Lobster in the glass tank. (Larry ALWAYS seems to survive & still be in the tank each time we visit. It’s miraculous!!)
So, we sit down, order our food and begin our conversation. And, then it happened. About half way through my semi-prepared speech about beginning kindergarten, I was sharing with Abbye how her mom and I want her to be a leader at school. We wanted her to look out for and take care of her classmates. To look for people who may need a friend and be that friend to them.
At that point Abbye asked me, “Daddy, what if there’s a kid at school that other kids are making fun of and being mean to and they won’t stop, even if i try to stop them?”
In response, I said, “If that happens, you need to go let the teacher know what is going on and let her handle it.”
My daughter looked me in the eye and shook her head, “No, Daddy, that’s not me. I’m not gonna tattle on people. I can just handle it myself. I’ll tell them to stop. And if they won’t, I’ll just take the kid the are being mean to and we will walk away from those bullies.”
I tried to get a word in.
But she continued,”And then I’ll tell that kid that they are very, very special no matter what those other kids say. And I’ll tell them that they can be my friend and I’ll protect them from mean kids.”
It was then that I realized, my speech was unnecessary. My daughter was going to do fine. And she had a much better grasp on things than I gave her credit for. As much as I wanted to still caution her that there will times when she will need to bring the teacher into the situation, I was too overwhelmed with pride in what she had just shared from her huge heart to go into it. I decided to leave that lesson for another day.
We came home and as Abbye got ready for bed, I shared our conversation with my wife. She quickly relayed a story of her own from earlier today. My wife had said to her, “Abbye Grace, there may be kids at your school who are different. They might not dress in nice clothes. They might look different. They might smell funny. But we need to be kind to everyone.”
Abbye’s response, “Oh, mom, I would never make fun of their style. They just are who they are. Jesus loves them. And I love them too. Jesus loves their style. And I’ll love it too!”
At what point in life do we lose that? I wish we didn’t, but we do to some degree. We become self-centered. We become jaded. We put up walls of defense. We feel the need to hurt others before they hurt us. We stop reaching out. We say we care, but our actions don’t show it. We refuse to take the risk of standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. We criticize people who are different instead of seeing them how Jesus sees them.
I choose to take a lesson from this 5 year old gift God has blessed me with. I pray she never loses the her heart of compassion. I pray she always sees others as peopke who Jesus loves and gave His life for. Thank you, Abbye for reminding daddy how we should all live life everyday and not just when we are in kindergarten.
“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” – Matthew 25:40