Category Archives: Play

I am not a monster; I am a boy

Courtesy deviantart.net

Micah often talks about how he doesn’t like school. It breaks my heart. As a veteran teacher, I know that there is more to the story, but he is only three. His parents and I are taking his concerns seriously as we make a holistic assessment of the situation.

Play with his peers is one topic that comes up a lot when Micah is with me. He complains that the other children call him a monster. He reports that his reply is, “I am not a monster, I am a boy.” Something has penetrated deeply here, because I heard him repeat this to unfamiliar children at the museum when he wanted to share their crawlspace. He mentioned it again yesterday while we ate a leisurely lunch. It bothers him on a deep level, and so it bothers me.

Micah will be alright. He has a loving and attentive family. We are working with the teachers. We have options and we can move him to another preschool if things do not improve. By society’s standards, any one can see that he isn’t a monster. But my tender heart leans towards him, and towards all who suffer at the hands of others who dismiss our humanity.

On Tuesday, my dear friend and I had an encounter with a young beggar on the street. Born with severe deformities and nearly no legs, Jake is wheelchair bound, no taller than three feet. He is, at the young age of 20, an orphan. So starved was he for attention and kindness, that when I asked him to tell me his story, a long and steady torrent of words flowed out, continuing with no pause or punctuation for as long as we could remain. It isn’t clear how he survives, or to whom he belongs, apart from God. What touched me most deeply was his own sense of determination to live with dignity. As I listened with my heart, I heard Jake say, “I am not a monster; I am a boy.”

Yes, a boy. But more than a boy. A beloved son of the Father. And someday, that understanding will make all the difference in the world. John 8:31-32.

Advertisements

Finding the Rainbow

Courtesy examiner.com

Lately, Micah has been helping me water the lawn. It is a contemplative practice of sorts, quiet and serene.  A patient time to do little more than direct the nozzle so that the water can replenish the earth.

But with Micah as my helper, the chore takes on a whole new dimension.  He loves to run through the water; to help hoist, hold, and recoil the hose.  I marvel at his sheer delight in such a simple task.

What a joy to have his company in the garden!  Perhaps this is what God intended when He created Eden.  That is what I think of again and again as an arc of rainbow appears.  Micah is my living hope.

For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.  (Psalm 100:5 NAS)

Washing Our Hearts

Courtesy studio3music.com

Anger is like germs on our hands. Every individual has a responsibility to contain it, to wash it away rather than let it spread through violent deeds or angry words. We wash our hands with water. We wash our hearts with breath.

At school, my three year old grandson, Micah is learning to use his words when he is angry instead of hitting. But, Micah wants to be a super hero. So, I am teaching him the super power of loving kindness. And, he is learning.

Today, a playmate grabbed a toy out of his hands while we were at the park. Micah visibly held back from hitting her, grabbing the toy while saying sternly, “I was playing with that toy. Give it back to me!” The girl dug deeper into her anger, crossed her arms, stomped her foot, and said to Micah, “I am taller than you are and I don’t have to listen to you!” Micah turned his back to her and played with the toy, guarding it jealously.

I waited a bit to let things cool off, then called Micah over and told him I was glad he chose to use his words instead of hitting. “Do you want to use your secret super power?” I asked. He nodded his head yes, so together we took some deep breaths, washing away the anger; a baptism not of water, but of spirit. Then, as we often do, we recited together our firm resolve: To be kind, to be kind, and to be kind.

What happened next was simply an act of grace. Micah told his playmate, “It’s OK; we can be friends again.” This spontaneous forgiveness gave her the emotional support she needed. She said, “I’m sorry,” and so did Micah. They held hands, and ran away together laughing.

Loving kindness is the very heart of God. God is mindful when the sparrow falls, and when we fall too. Breathing allows us to become mindful of the loving heart of God. No wonder Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14 NIV) Super heroes with super powers.

Waving at God

Courtesy techsetu.com

Yesterday, I was at an amusement park with my three year old grandson.  As he went around and around on the swings, he looked for me and waved.  At one point, the ride was going so fast that he became disoriented – looking backwards instead of directly towards me.

This reminded me of our lives.  Sometimes we look all around, but not directly at God.  When our eyes meet, we smile with delight.  Imagine how joyful that moment of connection is for God !

What was your favorite book as a child?

Happiness homework:  Reread a favorite childhood book.

Typical of the way children seek the comfort of repetition, our grandson requests Curious George be read to him over and over again.  The theme of each book is that George is a very good little monkey who is curious about everything, but never mischievous.  Each episode, George’s inquisitive nature gets him into a lot of trouble, but in the end, George always saves the day.  Perhaps George is just a gently curious monkey; the hero of his own story.

What occupies your mind?

We talk in terms of being preoccupied or having thoughts occupy our minds, but occupation is also a military term for the police state that follows a hostile take over.  What if the city of your mind surrendered to troupes of artists, musicians, dancers, and circus performers?  Invite creativity and joy to occupy your mind.

What about recess?

Imagine that your school hadn’t had recess for five years, and Coach Lamar showed up.  Watch this to see what being unreasonable can do for the world.

Jill Vialet of Playworks on TEDxSF