After preschool is out, the older kids arrive on the bus from a different school. Once everyone has had their snack we head out to the gym to play. Normally there is someone else out there who takes over once our numbers drop below ten, but circumstances had me out there this day.
One of the little boys is always lamenting that no one wants to play with him and while I see the alliances being built with other kids, I see him being left out a lot. If I can help it, I try to get him involved –giving him an in, a door, an answer, a nudge –and if all else fails I listen to him chat about his day or the latest greatest video game. Or I encourage him to show me his latest tricks.
This day in particular, was a challenging once. Since I was on my own I couldn’t listen to him talk. The preschoolers were busy shoving each other off of chairs, throwing balls and hitting each other. The older boys, racing across the room, tripped and hurt themselves. And then there was the little boy following me around, dragging his feet, whining about no one playing with him.
I finally distracted everyone with a very riveting game of red light/ green light, but then everything fell apart when the tides changed and they ran off to play freeze tag. A few minutes later and I heard wailing from across the gym, seeing the little boy who was following me around sitting on the floor, sobbing, I went to see what was up.
“They won’t let me be it.” He sobbed
It was in that moment that I wanted to tell him how excited he should be –they were playing a game with him, but instead of taking the opportunity, he was crying that he couldn’t go first. I wanted to tell him that perhaps this was why no one wanted to play with him –that he didn’t play fairly. That he didn’t share. That often, he was very abrupt and strong willed and why didn’t he just go join in the game and eventually, he might be ‘it’.
But instead I slid down the wall and sat next to him.
“What’s wrong with just playing the game with them?” I asked.
“I WANTED TO BE IT FIRST!” He yelled. Because of course he did.
I tried explaining that sometimes, that is just how it happens. We don’t always get to go first, but if we stick it out –we can still have fun, and maybe even win the game and be “it”. But he wasn’t having any of that, and instead wailed on.
I patted his back and resolved myself to be silent, because sometimes –silence is best, I’ve found.
One of the preschoolers wandered up and sat down on my lap and being the sweet kid that he is, started to mimic me by rubbing the wailing boys back.
Eventually the sobs slowed, and before long there was a small gang of us gathered around –making up words and giggling.
It wasn’t until later that I realized just how much like that little boy I am.
Sometimes –God has different directions for me, and instead of simply trusting. Simply resting. Simply going with it –I wail and stomp my feet and yell “But I wanted to be it!” I am positive that there are times that God simply wants to say “But look!” Look at all the OTHER opportunities you have, look at the doors that will be opened because I closed that window. Look around you and see what I have done!
Being a kid comes with it’s challenges. There are some things that you just cannot see. You can’t understand why no one will play with you and that makes it difficult. As an adult, you can easily see the solutions –but giving them to a child doesn’t help –because they have yet to comprehend that. Telling them that if they gave up a little bit of their selfish behavior and engaged in activities with others –things would go so much easier for them will fall on deaf ears. Because they haven’t learned it.
Yet how many times have I heard a command, seen a shut door –and instead of saying “You know better than me, you see the whole picture, I will trust that you know best” –do I throw myself to the ground and wail that I just wanted ________ instead.