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…and a little child shall lead them. (Isaiah 11:6)
It was getting late, it was uncomfortably warm outside, and I was tired, but that didn’t stop them.
“May we PLEASE stop at the park and play for a few minutes?” the three of them begged, ganging up against their dad and me.
We had gone on a last minute family walk around the block and I was anxious to get home and start our bedtime routine.
“Fine,” I relented, “you can play for ten minutes.”
The kids cheered and ran for the playground equipment; my husband smiled and followed me to a bench.
As my husband and I talked about events of the day, I glanced around the playground.
There were two families I had never seen before. The first was a Hispanic mother sitting on a bench watching her two young boys play in the sand. Occasionally, she would say something to them in Spanish, then return her gaze to her phone; she was very somber-looking.
The second family included a mother, who was sitting on another bench with a young child in a stroller at her side. She had several more children, who were running energetically around the playground.
“I should introduce myself to the mothers,” I thought to myself.
“No…,” I immediately found myself thinking, my defenses kicking in. “My Spanish is rusty, and I would feel awkward approaching them out of nowhere; I wouldn’t know what to say.”
My husband and I continued talking as we listened to the kids’ laughter and squeals of delight.
What was it they were so excited about? I wondered.
“Hey, Kate! Wait for me!” came a shout from the playground.
And who was that calling my daughter by name?
I watched carefully for a moment before realizing what was happening. While the two Hispanic boys continued to play in the sand, my kids and the kids from the second family had learned each other’s names and were playing an intense game of tag, running to and fro between the playground equipment.
“The children learned each other’s names,” I guiltily thought to myself, wondering why it was so difficult for me to approach the mothers.
I watched the two Hispanic boys look longingly at the other kids and then settle back into their sand play.
“Two more minutes!” my husband hollered to our kids.
As we sat waiting for the final minutes to pass, I had an idea.
I listened to my daughter say goodbye to her new friends.
“Bye! Maybe we’ll see you again, maybe we won’t. But I hope we will!” she said with a smile and a wave as she ran off.
She made it look so easy.
As we stood to leave, I gathered my kids together so I could share my idea with them.
“Let’s go practice our Spanish!” I whispered. We approached the two Hispanic boys in the sand and each of my children, in turn, had the following conversation with the oldest boy:
“Hola! Como esta?”
“Bien, gracious. Y tu?”
“Bien, gracious. Me llamo Kate. Como te llamas?”
“Me llamo Mario. Mucho gusto.”
The kids smiled at each other. I turned to look at Mario’s mother and found her leaning forward, grinning from ear to ear, her somber look gone.
My husband and I took courage and introduced ourselves to her. We learned that her name is Mariella and that she lives near our neighborhood.
After chatting briefly with her, we said our goodbyes and started for home, thirty minutes later than planned.
As I walked down the road, I thought about how good it feels to connect with people, even if you may never see them again.
And I thought about how, as much as I try to teach my children the right thing to do, it is often they who are teaching me.
Day 16 Challenge: Take a few minutes to record in your journal the ways in which your children inspire you. Consider letting your children know how much you appreciate the influence for good they are in your life.
This is Day 16 of my Write 31 Days series for 2017: 31 Days to an Authentic Life.
For an index of all the posts in the series, please click HERE.