Wednesday, August 26, 2015

We Love Mean Girls.

As a parent, there are times, and there are moments, and there are days that will stand out to you. 

Today was one of those days for me.

Given the 71ยบ cool snap that we are currently experiencing down here (C'mon Fall, amIright?!), we split our school work down the middle and drove across the highway to our neighborhood park to play for Physical Education for about an hour or so after we finished our morning work this morning. 

On the whole, my three kids had an awesome time. The sun was shining, and there was a breeze that brought the seagulls in overhead from the beach, and there were loads of kids to play with. We met up with some of the other park regulars (One of my Luke's very favorite is another boy named Luke. "MOMMA! The other Luke is here today! We can both play together. AGAIN!") as well as some new faces that we were excited to get to know. 

Two of these new faces belonged to two little girls who appeared to be a bit older than my daughter, Josie. They were obviously BFFs and were not at all interested in expanding their current circle of friendship. I watched from the side lines as several of the other kids, all three of mine included, attempted to draw them out into games of freeze tag and backwards slides and handstands on the astroturf. They weren't concerned and made no attempts to sugar coat their distain at these unsolicited invitations. 

It hurt to watch. 
A hot lump began to form in my throat that no amount of water could dissolve.

As several failed invitations fell flat, most of the kids realized there was more fun to be had with their other friends who were more like minded, and the two other girls were left to play by themselves away from the rest of the group. Except my Josie. 

She's at the age where anyone older than her is the absolute bees knees. Anything they say or do is immediately awe worthy, and these girls were no exception. They had manicured faux fingernails, sequined sandals and matching designer play purses filled with tiny notebooks and pens that lit up when you pressed on them. Jo was enamored with these glamorous girls and continued to press them to "Please play wif me, too". The girls responded with a second, duplicated icy round of "WHY?? We don't even KNOW YOU." 

And that's when I stepped in. 
(And started praying like a madwoman for strength and self control.)

I encouraged her to go find someone else that would like to play with her. I reminded her that not everyone wants to be together all the time and that sometimes, there were going to be people that wouldn't want to play with her, and that that was OK. She shrugged it off and happily went to go find her little brother and drag him around take him by the hand to all the slides and stairs. 

We played for a while longer before it was time to go. The kids still had a great time, as was evidenced by the wet, sweaty dog smell that permeated the car on the drive home. I suspected that the incident with the cliquey girls would come up again and, as we arrived home, it did. I killed the car and swivled in my seat to face the kids as they relayed to me how the girl's actions had hurt their feelings. 

Parenting is hard, y'all. 

I don't want to raise my kids to be doormats or bullies. I want to help them find a balance between turning the other cheek and standing your ground. AND THAT IS TOUGH.

I reminded them of what the Bible teaches us about loving others. How we are taught to love our neighbors. And our enemies. And each other. And, how sometimes, people can fit into any and all of those categories. 

We may not like how someone acts sometimes, and it's OK to tell a friend that your feelings are hurt, but that doesn't mean that we retaliate when we are hurt. We just keep on loving them like Jesus. We forgive others, and love them when they're not lovable because our Jesus loves us when we aren't lovable, too. People will still hurt us sometimes, but we can use that to understand how to better love others. By remembering how we feel when people on playgrounds don't want to play, we can recognize how to better treat our other friends and others, too. 


I swallowed the lump that was still in my throat as I got the kids unloaded. We washed up and grabbed as snack I gathered up my oldest Luke's table work to complete before lunchtime while Josie and Nathan settled into the living room with their toys and coloring books. 

There were a few minutes of peace and quiet until I heard Josie pipe up from her spot on the couch with her colors and paper. "Momma! I just made-ah letter foh doze girls at da pahhk. Can you'sah mail it to dem?" I asked her to bring her letter to me: a scribbled sheet full of pink and red circles. I told her it was a wonderful letter and I asked her what it said. Her response broke the dam of emotions that had been simmering below the surface since the first time I watched her timidly approach the glamorous girls to play earlier that morning.

 She told me it said "I forgive you." 

I lost it, right there at my table, y'all. I could live a thousand years and still never work hard enough to deserve a daughter with a heart like hers. She's teaching me more about encouragement and patience and unconditional love than I've ever known was humanly possible. 

My prayer is that my heart will continually change to reflect the purity I can see in hers. That my faith and endurance and love will be refined to shine with the kind that she emanates. 

Like I said, today was a stand out day, y'all. 

A three year old girl just gave me one of the best lessons I've ever learned on forgiveness. I wanted to write it all down now so that I'll be sure to never forget it. But, if I'm being honest, I probably never will.