My three year old taught me that you can never be too young or too little to make a difference.
We were at a nearby park, when it happened. M had joined a group of daycare kids playing hide and seek. The woman “watching them,” gazing absentmindedly on her phone, would pause every so often and bark an order or narrow her eyes at them.
So there was M, running in and out of the trees, laughing her head off. Until… a big hand, belonging to a huge grumpy-looking boy of about 10, shot out and pushed one of the little daycare girls down right in front of Makena. This little girl, who couldn’t have been older than 4, slumped to the ground, crumpled her face and began to cry. The boy towered over the little girl on the ground and said: “You’re always such a crybaby, Sophie. All you ever do is cry!”
I mean, come on!! My first instinct as a mom, was to get my own kid out of there, but at that moment, Sophie lept up, still sobbing, and started running through the grassy field. She threw herself down in the grass. At this point, it was clear that she felt like she didn’t belong, she wasn’t good enough, and she sure wasn’t safe. It’s normal for all of us to feel like this when we’re threatened…her brain told her that in order to protect herself, she had to run away. We all feel like this sometimes. I bet you’ve had moments when you felt like running away, too!
Well, having watched this whole interaction develop, my kiddo started making her way right over to the girl, who still had tears streaming down her face. She crouched in front of Sophie, turned her head to the side, looked her in the eyes, and held out her hand to her. Sophie’s face lit up as she grasped M’s hand. Sophie dried her tears, and together, they skipped over to the slide, arm in arm.
All Sophie needed in that moment, was to feel worthy of a friend, to belong, and to feel seen. I thought, wow, if M is able to do that at three, shouldn’t we all be?