Monday, June 16, 2008

The Girl Who Needed Me

Jeff and I teach the 3 1/2 - 4 year old Sunday School class once a month. Last night was our turn to teach. It was Father's Day, the weather was beautiful and game four of the NBA finals was on TV so we didn't expect a large class. We ended up with nine kids counting our two daughters.

The ninth child to arrive could be heard before she was seen. She wailed as they walked down the hallway. Her mom looked exhausted and frustrated. As they approached the class I hoped that this very sad child was destined for the 2 1/2 - 3 year old class next door. Our class already held eight children that we have taught before, a wonderful group of little people who would listen to the bible story and play nicely with one another.

The ninth little girl, Holly, was new to our class. She was a petite, pretty child with blond pig tails and penguin earrings in her little ears. From Holly's blue eyes flowed tears that would not stop. Holly was hefted over the baby gate into our classroom. Her mother made no attempts to calm her. She seems eager to escape and have nothing more to do with her daughter. I watched as this mother pushed on Holly's little forehead, a rude gesture that clearly said, "get away from me." And then she turned and walked away.

Holly cried. She didn't turn towards the door and cry for her mommy, begging her to come back. Instead she turned to me and cried with all the sadness of a child who was having a rough day and needed to be reassured. My heart broke. I wrapped my arms around her.

I wish I could say that Holly quickly calmed down and played with the other kids. I held Holly for a long time. After 10 minutes she stopped crying. She rested her head on my shoulder and gave me a little squeeze. I squeezed back. I held her as if she was my own child, her head nestled next to mine, stroking her back. She participated in a game of hide and seek, from the safety of my arms. She giggled. Still I held her.

When it was time for snacks, Holly decided she was ready to be put down. She participated in story time, colored and placed stickers on her worksheet. Towards the end of class I loss track of what she was doing and who she was playing with.

Her mom was the first to arrive. Holly was a completely different girl from when she was dropped off. Her mom was the same. My heart broke again. This time not for the girl, but for the mom with the empty eyes. The adult who had spent and hour in church and returned unchanged. A mom who needed to be loved, talked to, understood. I wish it was as easy to comfort adults as it is to care for children.


Karen said...

My heart just breaks reading this - I've lost track of how many times I've witnessed this as our church's nursery director. Here's the wonderful thing though - God always puts people in our paths to soothe our hurts - thankful He put you in that class last night. It sounds like the little girl really needed you. :)

As always, beautifully written.

Don Mills Diva said...

Oh Amy this was heartbreaking. Thank goodness you were able to soothe that little girl - hopefully her mother will come around as well.

Fine For Now said...

Aw, that is so sad! And yet so familiar.

Grey Street said...

That is sad. Sounds like mommy needs a hug too.


Amy said...

This was just so sad. I'm glad that you were there for that sweet little girl!

JLow said...

Nice, but sad post.

It is this kind of home environment that I wish all children in the world don't have to grow up in. I believe that if they are in this environment too much during development, they too will become something of a solemn adult, too.

I for one, try to create a happy mood at home for my kids. It *is* hard, with adult stresses and pressures clouding our minds most of the time...

OHmommy said...

Oh Amy.... what a great insight. My heart cried.

I am glad the girl found you... to calm her.

Kimmylyn said...

Oh Amy.. this was heart wrenching to read.. Thank goodness you were there to show comfort and sympathy for this little girl..

Mamarazzi said...

this kind of thing just about kills me. all i can do is feel sorry for the kids and a little sorry for myself. here i am with open arms and such a deep desire willingness and ability to love a child and yet they remain empty.

i am so thankful for the child that IS in my life. J needed a mom as much as i needed a child. i know we were a match made in heaven. i often feel sorry for "babymama" for not soaking in everything wonderful that this little girl just is. J is awesome, anyone who knows anything about her, is blessed to spend a little bit of time getting to know her 'gets' her immediatly. babymama is missing out...but her loss is most def my gain.

Both my life and J's life is better and brighter for it.

that little girl you comforted and loved..her life is better and brighter because of that is so obvious your souls were dancing...special!

Lisa said...

Way to be a much needed ray of sunshine.
Don't you wish there was more of it in her little life???

The Sports Mama said...

Like everyone else, my heart broke reading this. However, unlike everyone else, mine was breaking more for that mama. God knew what He was doing when He put Holly in your path. I can only pray that He puts someone in the path of that mom, so her eyes don't stay empty.

Adrian said...

Reminds me of the saying "You are the only bible some people will ever read"

Rachel said...

That's terrible that the mother behaved like that.
I'm with Karen, God definitely put that little girl in your path for a reason. I guess all you can do is pray for the mother, she may have something going on that causes her to be that way.
Beautifully written sweets.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written, and yet so tragic. You are a beautiful soul and that little girl was blessed to have you comfort her when her mother could not.

I came from a mother who never wanted me and who had "empty eyes". I wished upon wishes that I had someone to comfort me, just like you did.

I don't remember if I've ever commented here, but I've been reading for a long time. So if I haven't.... hello!