Not all adults treat children kindly. I learned this cheerless nugget of information before I mastered tying my shoes. The event took place during a play date at my neighbor’s home. The Dijon shag carpet scratched my knees as I leaned over and enthusiastically accepted Adam’s invitation to a coloring show down. With a carnation pink crayon clutched in my fist, I pressed the dyed wax against paper and vigorously shook my writs. Snap. The crayon didn’t bode well against my childish fervor. The green crayon snapped next, and then the orange. Adam’s father was incensed.
“Those are Adam’s new crayons,” he barked. “If you break one more I’m going to spank you.”
Before he finished his sentence the metallic crayon buckled under the pressure of my chubby four-year-old grip. The next sound I heard was the hollow thud of a strong hand connecting with the small of my back. Air escaped my lungs and failed to be replaced for what seemed like minutes, but was seconds in reality.
Funny thing, I remember so much about that day, but not a smudge of the physical pain. I’m sure it hurt. There was a large raspberry red palm imprinted on my back for at least an hour (He was a large man, I was a preschooler, I could have been seriously injured).
I remember the smell and color of the crayons, and the genuine laughter and enjoyment of playing with my friend. I also remember the breathlessness I felt after the strike, and the horror of being struck. Shame presented itself as well. Breaking the crayons was not an act of willful disobedience, rather a childish blunder, yet still, I felt like a bad, bad girl. I broke some crayons, that neighbor broke my tender heart.
Tears streamed my face as Mrs. P gently gathered my belongings, brushed strands of my butter blond hair away from my eyes, and instructed Adam to walk me home. An event created in five minutes will never be forgotten.
My sweet daughter is a year older than I was when what I now refer to as the awful crayon incident took place. She’s a social gal like her mama and her friends visit often. All of her friends are loved and welcomed in our home. Some children require a wee bit more patience than others. I can say that without guilt because I am sure that there are several parents who share that sentiment when it comes to my kids.
It’s my heartfelt prayer that our home be one of hospitality… not only to our adult friends, but to the friends of our children, even…especially, the ones who sometimes try my resolve. I pray that the words I speak to those precious ones be edifying; words that drip with kindness, love, and cheer. I pray that I will take the time necessary to get to know these little beings and be another encourager in their courts, because this world and its inhabitants sling some harsh blows. I pray that our home will be a safe haven amidst this blistering society, and that my children will know how to love because they see love in action every day.
“Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’ When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.” Matthew 13-15