Monday, November 23, 2009

Problem child




Her name was Sarah. She was six years old, with dark brown hair and big brown eyes and rosy cheeks. She was the terror of the Sunday School class.

When the other children lined up for a game, she pushed her way to the front of the line and ran through the obstacle course all by herself, laughing at the top of her lungs.

When the other children sang songs, she jumped and twirled and hid under her chair.

When the other children listened to the Bible story for the day, she told long stories of her own to whoever happened to be sitting next to her.

What on earth was wrong with this child? We grown-ups didn't quite know what to do with her. For lack of a better idea, I decided to make it my job to sit by her every week.

For a while I'm afraid I only made things worse. Sarah now had an audience for her jumping and twirling and hiding. And she knew it. I shushed her and stroked her hair when she started telling her stories, but of course it didn't stop her. I started getting disapproving stares from the other helpers.

I felt like quite a Sunday School Supervisory Loser.

I thought maybe I should scold her. Or give her a time-out. Or take her to a quiet corner to pray. But instead I just kept sitting there. Watching her twirling. Listening to her stories.

One morning, the entire class was quietly watching a puppet show. Sarah stood on one foot, wobbled back and forth, and started hopping sideways.

Suddenly she stopped and whispered in my ear.

"I wish I could live with my mommy and daddy," she said with a little sigh. "My Grandma is nice, but I really miss my mommy."

She looked into my eyes for a minute. I just smiled and stroked her hair.

Then she jumped up

and twirled

and hid under her chair.

~~~

11 comments:

Rae said...

What a touching story. Just goes to show we should never make assumptions without knowing the facts. Makes my heart ache for that little girl. At least you were there and she trusted you enough to share. I can't imagine the emotions within her.
BTW Thanks for the coffee shop award nomination. I just read it. That was so nice of you. Now I need to do something to live up to it.

Argentum Vulgaris said...

There's always a reason for such behaviours, the problem is mainly with adults who can't recognise them. A lovely story nevertheless. As rae said, in you she found someone she could trust.

AV

Lesley said...

Rae: It was really a profound lesson for me - never assume that a child is just "bad." There's always a reason. And BTW, you totally deserve the coffee shop nomination. Already lived up to. Done!

AV: Yes, I think it's so important for adults to sometimes just "be there" for children. We don't always have to tell them what to do. We often need to just listen.

Charlene said...

Oh wow - I think I would have burst into tears! Thanks so much for following my "Balance Beam" blog - I really appreciate it! Looking forward to checking out your place here too. Cheers!

~Ellie Kings~ said...

Very touching story, Lesley! Sadly, it happens all around us , and not just in children. Listening and watching is key to acknowledging someone else's feelings and maybe helping in some way. You were there for her, you listened, and she saw it and was grateful in her own way. God bless you and Sarah!

Lily Robinson said...

God really knew what he was doing when he put you with her! May He bless you for doing His will.

Amanda said...

Oh, that made me sad...

Gee thanks for that. Thought this was supposed be a funny blog. Going to hug my kids now Debbie Downer.

Lesley said...

Charlene: Your blog is wonderful! I always need tips on finding that elusive balance.

Ellie: Thanks, hun. It's true, everyone needs a listening ear. Even grown-ups.

Lily: She taught me a lot. Though I was supposed to be there to "teach" her. God does work in mysterious ways!

Amanda: Don't worry, I'll be perky again tomorrow! Meanwhile, hug your kids every chance you get. It's good for them to get out of their boxes once in a while.

schererart said...

I'm so glad you looked down on the situation to get a better look...just like an angel.

Yaya' s Changing World said...

Precious hearts need kind understanding and she recognized that in you. I'm so glad you were there for her. Are you still in touch with her? If so, how is she doing, now? ~ Yaya

Yaya's Changing World

Lesley said...

Lisa and Yaya: Welcome!! You both have such unique, creative blogs! I look forward to getting to know you better.

Yaya, I am still in touch with "Sarah" (not her real name). She's in high school, doing well, and back with mom and dad. They struggle with some big issues, but they have a wonderful church and a big God to rely on.

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