Ella doesn’t do well with intruders. Just ask Jack, who thankfully won’t remember all the times she’s yelled, “No, Bud!” at him. She likes her stuff, she likes her space, and she definitely likes her way. She can be the sweetest little sugar plum fairy with a cherry on top but I’ll admit that even I tiptoe around her sometimes.
So when a little boy came ambling into our row at church this morning, I was nervous. Before we go anywhere, my constant refrain to Ella is, “Remember, no yelling. Remember, no throwing. Remember, let’s be good sharers. Remember, let’s be a good girl.” I’ve said some variation of this ever since playdates became a part of our lives and sometimes it works but increasingly lately, it hasn’t. So when this other toddler came over, with a runny nose and toothy grin, I tried to prepare myself for disaster. Almost immediately, he grabbed for the little car in Ella’s hand.
“No, this one’s mine. That one is yours and this one is mine.”
There was no yelling. There was no throwing. Just a calm little voice, gently explaining the rules to a younger friend. The interaction continued like this. Easily passing toys back and forth, laughing as they traded and raced their little cars. After so many tantrums, so many blow ups, so many times that I’ve had to pull Ella to the side to correct her behavior, I was so touched to watch her play so naturally and kindly with this boy. Ella isn’t some monster, of course not. She’s three, that’s all. And it’s a tough age, as I’m discovering every day. And when I have this refrain that is so often ignored or forgotten, it can be hard to know if anything I’m saying or doing is making a difference. So watching her momentarily live the lessons I’ve been teaching daily was a really bright spot on this rainy Sunday. She is hearing me and learning.
That gives me hope for myself also. That all the things I’m being taught, at church and in life, are getting through to me. They might be things I don’t do perfectly right now or at all but they are written on my heart somehow. Just like Ella, I am hearing them and learning.
Happy Sunday, everybody.