Yesterday, I helped out in a pre-school class. It was exhausting but exhilarating at the same time. The teachers were well prepared, the room was colorful and inviting and it filled up quickly with kid craziness. In no time, the room was bursting at the seams with 5-year-old energy.
Throughout the day, the children were given opportunities to discover, to create, to dream and to pretend. They learned to write their name, that it is ok to make mistakes, and that rules have consequences.
During free play time, one of the little girls asked me to help her put on the fairy princess dress. She already had the wand and the crown. She is a sweet child, with long curly blond hair, beautiful blue eyes and a smile that warmed my heart. I shared with her that I was once a fairy princess and that I was happy to help her.
First, we had to unbuckle the strap to her backpack, which carried her portable oxygen bottle. She can buckle it herself but needs help to unbuckle. I was stunned at just how heavy it was! We put on the dress, re-arranged the tubes and put her backpack back on over the purple princess dress. We sang ‘Bibbity-bobbity-boo’ as she tapped me on the head with her wand and off she went.
I watched her as she participated in every activity from circle time to learning centers, from recess to reading – this little slip of a girl, carried her heavy load without a complaint, it was simply a part of her life.
My mind was drawn back to powerful object lesson taught by a dear friend, Janean Hall. She was a master of catching people’s attention and helping them discover and remember the important truths she taught. During one class, she lumbered into the room, carrying a very heavy backpack. She asked for a volunteer to help her lift her pack onto the table in front of us. Then, she unpacked it – one rock and one brick at a time. “Whew – that will help,” she said, as we all sat stunned, wondering what she was up to.
Some of the rocks, she admitted, had to stay in the backpack, they were part of her life’s burden and her lot to carry. Other rocks she had picked up along the way. We watched and listened as she explained that though she had packed her backpack herself, she didn’t remember why some rocks were even in there and realized there were some she no longer needed to carry.
I hope that one day, little 5-year-old Kora will no longer need to carry her oxygen tank in her backpack. But yesterday she did. And just for a moment, I was able to help her manage her heavy load.
It was my turn to take the little girls to the bathroom. They all lined up, Julie was assigned to be the line leader and off we went. I stayed just behind Kora and reached down to hold the top strap of her backpack to help her as she walked down the hall. As she felt her burden lifted, she looked up at me with her sweet and innocent smile and said, “Watch me now, I can skip hop!” And bounced and skipped and hopped all way down the hall and back.
My heart is so full, and I am so grateful for this experience. I recall times in my life that my burdens have been lifted by a friend, times that my feeble knees have been strengthened. “Wherefore, be faithful; succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.” See reference
We all have our own backpacks to carry, sometimes we manage ok with our loads, other times we need help. Sometimes we are the strong ones, other times if we are willing, we can rely on others. Perhaps with a little help we can all skip hop now and then.