By Elizabeth Prata
The first task I do at school every day is to be at my station at opening bell, having unlocked the door so car riders can come in. I am to greet the students, by name if possible, and generally be pleasant and welcoming. By 7:10am the kids may already have been awakened dog-tired, fussed at, rushed, and generally hustled to the car so mama or daddy can get to work. My job is to be calm, smiling, and joyful to see them. I love this duty because I genuinely love seeing the kids come in. Each of them, every day.
They are so cute. The kids enter at different speeds, displaying different emotions, some shy and looking away from me, some shrinking against the wall, some literally bounding in.
It’s this last one I want to focus on. There is a student who bounds in every day, runs down the hallway to my spot. Every. Single. Day. He runs full blast all the way to me where I’m leaning against the back wall, headlong into my belly, flings his arms around my waist for a brief second, laughs and runs into the gym to lay down his bookbag. He is not in my grade and I don’t know him other than this morning duty.
Kids are just mini-adults after all and show the same traits as we do. Some are morning people and some are afternoon or evening people. Some wake up slow, some bound out of bed or the car. Some sleep in the car and walk in like a zombie, only half awake, seat belt strap imprinted on their face. Some are grumpy and some smile. Some want to know if they can I go eat breakfast, while others, if you even mention food look like they’ll puke.
I stand there, day after day, 190 days in a row, and watch the panoply unfold. It’s a mirror of the real world, this mini world, from 7:10-7:50 every day.
Yesterday the tyke came through the double doors with one empty hand waving and the other clutching an unwrapped frosted pop tart. He yelled from the 50 feet away, at a full run still, “I can’t hug you with both arms because I have a POP TART but I can hug with one arm!”
I got to thinking about him and that little moment. There is so much to say here.
- His boundless energy in meeting the day is to be admired. He goes full tilt, bursting through the doors with gladness.
- He has great joy in simple things, like a POP TART.
- He hugs with generous abandon.
- He plans his hugs.
- He worries about how to hug me properly so he developed a new plan and announced his new plan for the hug, due to the POP TART.
Do we do that as adults? I mean, yes, I know kids are more ingenuous and open, but couldn’t we be a mite more unabashed with our love? Do we evidence joy at small things? Will it hurt us to plan our interactions in order to maximize showing our feelings for one another?
He really loved his POP TART. I got a kick out of that. I keep using all capitals for POP TART because he shouted it when he came in. That poor pop tart took a beating before it got to the cafeteria for consumption into a little boy’s belly. It was crumbling all the way down the hall as he hurtled in, leaving a crumb trail big enough to easily find his way back out of the haunted forest.
Let’s take delight in the small things, like the little boy I greet every morning does. Enjoy the feel of the Bible in our hands. The smile of a friend as we enter church. The variety of food at the pot luck. The sweetness of being able to pray to the Sovereign King who loves us. The fact that we can gather (if we can). The joy of the musicians as they play. The excitement of the pastor as he preaches.
You will make known to me the way of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11
Smile wide, hug with verve, sing with gusto, pray with focus, and enjoy our POP TARTS.