Old people and little kids have the most to teach us… Okay, maybe it’s just the kids.
This week I was delighted to spend 2 and half days with some little teachers at our church’s VBS/Day Camp. I was extra-lucky that it wasn’t just me. Lindsay and I shared this experience and tag-teamed our slot as Camp Counselor, until I left her the fun kids, while I was at the fun restaurant. So many cool things happened, and I want to save them to remember, right here. You may find yourself, or your kid’s story, hiding in these words…
Moments after we sat down Sunday night for dinner, and the room was buzzing with 50 or so kids, and their parents and other siblings. I was excited. Not the super fun happy kind of excited. More like the anxious and hyped-up, and not clearly calmly thinking type of excited. So as I saw one of our older kiddos leaned back in his chair right behind me. I pulled the old ‘Fake pulling your chair backwards, making you feel like you’re falling, Trick’… You know the one right? The one where the cool kid, leaned back in his chair, get’s spooked and doesn’t fall down, but remembers to keep his chair on the ground, right??
I did the ‘fake pulling the chair over’ thing, and Cameron, was spooked. But then an INSTANT later, another kid was wadded up on the floor, after his chair crashed backwards… WHAT! How did the little guy end up on the floor? Why is there now a new camp counselor, checking him to see that he is just fine, but she glares at me (kindly).
I didn’t pull That kid over in his chair!
Yup. Sure Did.
See, what these kids taught me, is this. They SEE and They Do, EVERYTHING I Do, almost instantly! Yeah, so another kid, at that same table, saw me ‘spooking’ Cameron, he saw me smiling and being a smart-alec, then he attempted the exact same trick on his buddy, but, he got a different result. Pulled him backwards to the floor. Ouch.
My first moments as a ‘Camp Counselor’, Big Tough Lesson. They are watching, they are Doing, every little thing.
Now, all you parents out there can laugh at me, Ha, Ha! He doesn’t have kids. He doesn’t know crap. He thinks it’s a big deal that this kid mimicked him and it’s some kinda big ‘Moment’. Sure. Yuck it up. BUT! Hear me on this. All, Week, Long, These kids, who I barely knew beforehand, listened, watched and repeated, over and over again. They really do soak up each word, each glance, each action, like little sponges.
The ‘experienced’ 19-year old camp counselor with us, was very careful with all her phrasing. She encouraged and redirected, she ignored the right things and right times, and answered truthfully honestly and creatively, just as deftly. She’s done this alot. I learned a lot from her, thanks Silly Sydney 🙂
So I had to ask myself. Do I want them doing, saying and being the things, I am doing saying and being? Because it was a literal lightning quick predictable result from them almost every time. Honestly, I can say that yes, I have grown in many ways, and I would like to be an example for SOME things, to little ones around me. Not Everything however, and I have a long long long way to grow yet.
That is a big deal. More than most other reasons. I wanted to be a better ‘Me’, so that they would be able to actively learn by example, from the best version of ‘Me’ I could give them.
Just to put an old dusty idea to rest. I did used to hear as a child ‘Do as I say, Not as I do.’ I must reflect on that here, as a complete and utter impossibility. It just doesn’t happen, no matter what we’d rather think. See the truth in this commercial below, that ‘coincidentally’ made it’s way to me also this week.
So something else that I couldn’t help to notice, is the pureness, the innocence, the cuteness and the quality of our little tribe of 14 kids. They just seemed so complete and so loving and curious and mischievous and funny and all the things that all people always are.
They showed us almost every emotion, in their tiny kid-sized portions. I could see excitement and glee, but also pain and worry. I witnessed flashes of disappointment and boredom. They sabotaged themselves and others. They made messes. They created cool art. They sung way way way louder than anyone in their ‘right mind should’. They were just exquisitely experiencing life, in tiny chunks of time and energy and activity. They couldn’t have been more amazing, or more normal if they tried. They sparked fun conversation for hours, between my wife and I, every evening this week. Wow, what a blessing.
I thought about how one little guy’s dad and I were in school together, about the same time and age as he was. It was like teleporting back in history. Others are kiddos of friends and some I see often at church, but never have spent this much time with. They are little people. They show me lots and lots of things about how they operate and how they think and what they like and what they don’t like and how they treat others and what is important to them. Wow, really? Yeah, big deal again right? Aaron has no kids, and now is amazed by every little kid. Whoopee. Yeah, Whoopee!
Here’s the thing. All these little activities and events in our Day Camp Day, seemed so big and ginormus and important to our little girls and little boys. They were 1st and 2nd graders, ya know. So each game, each song, each craft or snack was a big deal. Or it wasn’t, maybe it they were distracted and daydreaming. Anyway, from my perspective, I knew that really, really, this stuff is just a few hours of a few days of a big ol’ life of theirs. They will have tons more experiences. Tons more chances to win, or get it right, or behave better, or behave worse. In the BIG Picture, this Day Camp week, really isn’t the whole picture, it’s just a small part of the whole. I think it is a positive and important part, but just a part.
These kids could have acted almost anyway, they could have performed almost any way, they could have done just about anything. I just thought there is no way, they couldn’t have been loveable, through it all. I think for a tiny second, out on the grass, with water splashing around and some kids having fun, and some kids playing too hard, and some not listening and some a little banged up and hurt, they were all perfect. They just were. In all those moments, perfection.
And then I heard I heard that small voice. “This is how God see’s us all” We are all his little perfect children. We may think we’ve messed up the game, or misbehaved, or screwed up our chances with him, but God just sees our light. I’m not making a theological hard-line here, I’m just saying what my heart felt in a moment this week. Just like always here at weirdforgood. There was a moment I saw a universe of kids playing, and my heart said God loves us like little children. He sees the big picture. He knows the little games are just that. They aren’t the deciding factors on his love. We are full of perfection, and are the apple of his eye.
Now, inside of us, we won’t feel that way. Just like the crying kids, or the frustrated ones, or those that got warnings of consequences, we won’t always like how it feels to be us. To burn inside with embarrassment or shame or regret. We may sneak away from Him, and choose to ignore his guidance. We won’t like the feeling of that. BUT, overall, We are beings full of His Love. We cannot leave his sight, he won’t let it happen. We cannot completely survive on our own, and we are being given more Grace always than we realize.
Again, an opportunity to serve, through my church, through my Christ, teaches me to Thank God. The Thanks goes on too. To our Camp Counselors, To our Church Staff who set this whole thing up, and my Loving Lindsay wife. And, especially a Huge Big Ole Thank You to the littlest teachers of all…
Foster the Fast