When I saw the girl wandering out on the playground by herself, my heart jumped within my chest. Who would rescue her?
Sometimes I go to have lunch with my daughter at her school. She’s in 5th grade, so I realize this is probably the last year she will want me to do this. I don’t want to miss these last fleeting days with my “little” girl.
So I went yesterday. And I have a confession. I’m ashamed to admit it, but sometimes I worry about the wrong things. I was worrying about the Cool Kids. By the time I was in 5th grade, there were very clearly "Cool Kids." And I wasn’t one of them.
So yesterday, while I ate with my daughter Ivy, I was looking around at all the other 5th graders. I was wondering which kids were Cool Kids. I couldn’t really tell just by looking at them. But I was worrying that maybe my little girl isn’t cool enough.
The thing is, she doesn’t worry about this. She has always been happy. Confident. She is completely devoted to her few best friends. Happy to play with them at school and outside of school. She doesn’t care much about her clothes. She hardly cares to smooth her hair before school.
It makes me happy that she feels good about who she is and doesn’t feel the need to impress others. But…is she cool enough?
So usually after I eat with Ivy in the cafeteria, I leave and she goes out to the playground. But yesterday she begged me to go out with her and watch her do flips on the bars. I tried to say no. It was cold, and standing out there watching her play didn’t sound very entertaining. But she begged. Looking back I wonder if God was begging me too.
While we were outside, I was still watching all the other kids, wondering which ones were Cool Kids. I reasoned that even if Ivy isn’t a Cool Kid, she’s happy, so I guess it doesn’t matter.
And then I saw a girl wandering out on the playground by herself. Ivy said, “Oh, there’s the new girl, Shayna. Today’s her first day.”
My heart jumped within my chest. Oh, poor thing. How hard it must be not to know anyone and to wander the playground alone!
I said to Ivy, “Why don’t you go ask her to play with you? She’s all alone!”
Ivy trotted over and invited the new girl back to the bars. A rescue. Shayna smiled and followed Ivy. I asked Shayna several questions about where she was from and where she lived now. Ivy got caught up in playing with her best friend Jamie and wasn’t doing too well of talking with the new girl. So before I left, I pulled Ivy in for a hug and whispered, “Ivy, you’re not talking to Shayna. You’re playing and she’s just standing there. Make sure you talk to her to make her feel included.”
Ivy said she would. And as I left I realized I had been worried about the wrong thing. Instead of worrying whether my little girl was cool, I should be spending more time helping her be kind.
It was a Teachable Moment, for sure. For my daughter, yes, but also for me. I’m glad I followed Ivy outside to the playground yesterday. Shayna wasn’t the only one who needed to be rescued.
Dear Lord, I’m sorry that I get caught up in things that the world places value on, like being “cool” and admired. Please remind me every day that You value love and kindness, and that You look at the heart instead of our outside appearances. Please help my children be kind. Help them recognize when others need encouragement or a kind word, and then give my children courage to reach out. Thank You for rescuing me from pursuing worthless things.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility and patience.”
When Ivy got home today I asked her if she was kind to Shayna. She said yes, they played together outside and they were reading partners in class. Cue proud mom. Oh, sweet girl of mine, how precious it is to be beautiful on the inside, where it matters most.
“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
-1 Samuel 16:7