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    Allow me

    “The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.”

    Abraham Lincoln

    On this, the eve of Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be appropriate to share a little love story.  We typically shower those close to us with kindness and affection, but how often do we ‘choose love’ when it comes to dealing with difficult strangers?  My three-year old daughter taught me a lesson I shall not soon forget.

    There was a bully at the playground, and none of the surrounding adults seemed to be responsible for him.  I couldn’t for the life of me determine who he was attached to!  He looked to be about six or seven years old, and he had appointed himself ‘King of the Slide.’  He was preventing other kids from using the slide by sitting at the top of it and facing backwards toward the ladder.

    “YOU CAN’T COME UP HERE UNLESS YOU HAVE A RED CAR!!!”  he shouted down to one little girl, while waving his toy car in the air.  When the little girl tried to climb the rungs of the ladder, the boy kicked his feet as though he would step on her fingers.  The girl backed down and ran away to her father, who decided not to intervene.  A few minutes later, another child tried to climb the ladder and use the slide, but he was met with the same treatment.

    I was pushing my two daughters on the swings nearby, watching to see if any parents were going to step in, and when nobody did, I spoke up. (It’s the teacher in me.) “Excuse me,” I said to the little boy, “you need to share this slide with the  other kids.  Everyone is allowed to use the slide.”

    “NO THEY’RE NOT!!!”  the boy shouted down at me.

    Wow.  I wasn’t expecting that reaction.  I was taken aback, but after fifteen years of teaching, I had encountered disrespectful youth.  I continued, “This playground belongs to everyone, so please go down the slide and let other kids enjoy it, too.”  Luckily, the boy found something intriguing about the climbing-web so he slid down and ran across the playground.

    Pip jumped off the swing and started to play on the slide with another girl.  In a few minutes, the boy was shouting and racing back to the slide.  Pip was halfway up the ladder when she saw him coming.  I saw her hesitate, as though she was considering a retreat, but she thought better of it and continued her ascent.  The boy was hot on her heels.  I was still pushing Fig on the swing, but I was ready to support Pip if she needed me.  That’s when I heard my girl shout down at the boy, “My name is Pip, what’s your name?”

    The boy stopped mid-rung and looked up at Pip quizzically, “Evan,” he said softly.

    “Hi Evan, I’m three,” said Pip as she slid down the slide.

    “I’m five,” said Evan politely.

    Then Pip said, “Bye Evan,” and ran toward me for a hug.

    I was flabbergasted.  Pip is not typically an, “Allow me to introduce myself,” kind of girl.  She prefers others to make the first move.  I suppose Evan had made the first move.  He introduced himself by the way he treated the other kids, and my smart little girl completely disarmed him by treating him with civility.  She didn’t make an enemy; she made a friend.

    I was so proud of Pip, I could barely speak!  But I did.  I told her casually that it was very nice of her to introduce herself to Evan.

    “Thanks, Mama,” she said.

    Thank YOU Pip, for reminding me to choose love.

    7 comments to Allow me

    • Aurora

      Out of the mouths of babes…How beautiful! and how clever of you to see if Pip could handle it….

    • Karen

      Thanks Aurora. It did take a little restraint on my part!

    • S Finneron

      Just thought I would let you know that I read your blog every morning when I arrive at work. Before I get started on a busy work day it gives me food for thought! Such as this lesson which I must always remember when dealing with customers! Such a simple lesson is so easy to forget. Trust a three year old to bring it home for us all! Koodoo’s Pip!!!

    • Karen

      THANK YOU SUE!!! I so appreciate your support and the reminder that Pip’s stories contain universal themes. It makes me think of the Robert Fulgum (I may have the spelling wrong) book, ‘All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” remember that one? Simple truths. Have a great day!

    • This Pip story totally made me cry! What an amazing lesson for us all. Happy for your daughter, sad for that little boy. Hopefully he has some guidance somewhere in his life.

    • Karen

      Thanks for your heartfelt comment, Chelsea. I’m hopeful. Evan got so soft as soon as Pip was kind to him; that little glimpse of sweetness was promising!

    • Sarah

      Thanks for sharing. Your daughter seems like a gentle,wise and strong soul!

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