Friday, September 18, 2009

Broken Crayons and A Broken Heart



Not all adults treat children kindly. I learned this cheerless nugget of information before I mastered tying my shoes. The event took place during a play date at my neighbor’s home. The Dijon shag carpet scratched my knees as I leaned over and enthusiastically accepted Adam’s invitation to a coloring show down. With a carnation pink crayon clutched in my fist, I pressed the dyed wax against paper and vigorously shook my writs. Snap. The crayon didn’t bode well against my childish fervor. The green crayon snapped next, and then the orange. Adam’s father was incensed.

“Those are Adam’s new crayons,” he barked. “If you break one more I’m going to spank you.”

Before he finished his sentence the metallic crayon buckled under the pressure of my chubby four-year-old grip. The next sound I heard was the hollow thud of a strong hand connecting with the small of my back. Air escaped my lungs and failed to be replaced for what seemed like minutes, but was seconds in reality.

Funny thing, I remember so much about that day, but not a smudge of the physical pain. I’m sure it hurt. There was a large raspberry red palm imprinted on my back for at least an hour (He was a large man, I was a preschooler, I could have been seriously injured).

I remember the smell and color of the crayons, and the genuine laughter and enjoyment of playing with my friend. I also remember the breathlessness I felt after the strike, and the horror of being struck. Shame presented itself as well. Breaking the crayons was not an act of willful disobedience, rather a childish blunder, yet still, I felt like a bad, bad girl. I broke some crayons, that neighbor broke my tender heart.

Tears streamed my face as Mrs. P gently gathered my belongings, brushed strands of my butter blond hair away from my eyes, and instructed Adam to walk me home. An event created in five minutes will never be forgotten.

My sweet daughter is a year older than I was when what I now refer to as the awful crayon incident took place. She’s a social gal like her mama and her friends visit often. All of her friends are loved and welcomed in our home. Some children require a wee bit more patience than others. I can say that without guilt because I am sure that there are several parents who share that sentiment when it comes to my kids.

It’s my heartfelt prayer that our home be one of hospitality... not only to our adult friends, but to the friends of our children, even...especially, the ones who sometimes try my resolve. I pray that the words I speak to those precious ones be edifying; words that drip with kindness, love, and cheer. I pray that I will take the time necessary to get to know these little beings and be another encourager in their courts, because this world and its inhabitants sling some harsh blows. I pray that our home will be a safe haven amidst this blistering society, and that my children will know how to love because they see love in action every day.

"Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.' When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there." Matthew 13-15




24 comments:

Loretta said...

I love this post even though it breaks my heart to read it. I want the same thing for our home, for it to be a place where all my children's friends can come and know that they are treasured for who they are. A child's heart is the most fragile, the most precious thing we will ever encounter, may we all treat it as such.

Susan said...

Wow! First of all, this is an incredible story. Was this just a neighbor? And it was acceptable? I mean I remember my neighbor's Dad yelling at HER, but never at me. Your story made me sad, though.

You're right, we all have a choice of how to reach out to anyone who enters our home. Thank you for the reminder.

Proverbs 27:19 said...

Your post matches up very timely with my struggle today.

Eyanna's friend came by today and I hesitated on letting her in. I didn't want to deal with her. Then I thought that someone may very well feel that way about our daughter and so I let her in and decided that I just needed to provide better supervision of the two to avoid the girly arguments that usually occur.

Your post has helped me a bunch in expressing hospitality to all!

smooches,
Larie

mommy4life said...

Your home sounds like somewhere I would love my children to visit, and even though you had a bad experience as a child, you used it to the positive, to determine to love others children and treat them kindly.

Ginny (MAD21) said...

This is a wonderful post. I had a few incidences like this myself. Being ADHD you can imagine the trouble I found myself in. I was an easy target for both parents and teachers.

Like you, these experiences have helped me be more sensitive to the kids that have been in my life over the years, now including my own.

Interesting how God forms the passions that each of us has :)

Mocha with Linda said...

Wow. That breaks my heart to read, but God has obviously used your pain to bring joy to children you have in your home today.

He & Me + 3 said...

Wow that story is heart breaking. I would never in a million years think of touching let alone spanking someone elses child. How very sad. Thank you for sharing this post though...gets you thinking how much of an impact we as parents and adults make on such small lives.

Angela said...

Susan,

Yes, he was just a neighbor...one we didn't even know well. And no, it was NOT acceptable. My mom went over in hysterics when she found out. For one thing it would have been wrong for him spank me and what he did (smacking me with force on my back) was even worse...he could have really hurt me. It was the 70's. I think today parents would be more likely to press charges if something like this happened...I would for sure if an adult struck my child.

elizabeth embracing life said...

That has also been my prayer. When our house is full of kids I always know the ones who need me most. The quiet ones who find their way away from the crowd and sit at my counter. I have watched kids grow up at the end of my counter sharing their little hearts. You will be blessed for sure as you help the heart of a young child with your hospitlity.

Maff said...

You're such a beautiful woman Angela...God's love just oozes out of you!! Any child who gets to enter your home and spend time with your family will be blessed indeed!

Emily said...

I'm shaken. I can't imagine someone would do that! You're an amazing woman, taking that hurtful memory and using it for the good. And I feel very privileged to "know" you.

A Big Bowl Of Cherries said...

Oh, this story brings tears to my eyes. And as others have mentioned- you've allowed the Lord to help you turn this traumatic event into a life lesson on how to treat other little people. He's such a good God.

Tabitha@ichoosebliss.net said...

I'm so glad you were not my child, because that guy would have had a black eye. :)

Jenn @ A Country Girl's Ramblings said...

What a powerful post! Thanks for sharing this. I, too, want others to feel my home is a place of love and acceptance.

Cindy said...

I'm just attempting to catch up with blogs.

Here is my new blog address:

www.consideringitalljoy.com

Blessings, Cindy

lisasmith said...

i share your prayer...similar incident with stabbing words was my teacher. Crazy how when our children reach an age above that of one where a haunting memory is seared in our hearts, it makes us stop for a minute, huh?

Jamie said...

Powerful! Reading this caused my eyes to fill with tears. Such a strong reminder that the things we say and do can have lasting impressions.

Memmy said...

I'm mad at that neighbor, even though it was years ago.

Although, when I hear of these things, it makse me wonder what was inside this guy to make him be that way. Perhaps he was treated as such as a child?

Sad.

I love the sentiment behind this story so much though! I think of that verse so often, "Let the children come to me..."

Thanks for sharing this Angela. I love getting to know you!

(Emily Webb)

Irritable Mother said...

Yes, to be like Jesus to the little children who enter our homes!
And now that my children are older, I see the opportunity to love kids through other issues. Indeed, it is still hard and I feel the need to protect my children from some of the stuff their friends are facing, but I still want to love these kids for Jesus.
Thank you for your open heart and sharing - and for reminding me who I want to be to my kids' friends.

Love you,
Karen

Heather C said...

Sweet post. Sad, but sweet. Isn't it lovely how the Lord can take even our bad memories and turn them into something that brings Him honor and glory? I love that. Nothing is wasted with Him.. nothing.

thegypsymama said...

Wow - beautiful, painful, powerful. Keeping memories of our own childhood close to the surface gives us a remarkable glimpse through our kids' eyes, doesn't it? It has affected the choices I make as I parent on a daily basis. Thanks for sharing. (PS - I came over via (in) courage - glad I found your site!)

Vixbil said...

I love the sound of your house and would love to visit. What a sad crayon story though
xx

Ashleigh (Heart and Home) said...

I'm shaking with anger at that neighbor. And to think... if this is what he did to YOU, what was Adam's life like?

With you, I pray my home is always one filled with love and gentleness toward the littlest ones.

Julie Evans said...

Beauty from ashes. Or broken crayons, as the case may be. Lovely, redemptive post. You have a beautiful heart.

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