|Sophia embodies her name (Greek for “wisdom”)|
The same wet Saturday soccer morning that brought my youngest daughter much glee dampened my older daughter’s spirits considerably. (See post from Monday, September 19, “Which Came First?”) Some fields were simply too muddy, including the one on which Sophia’s team was scheduled to play, unfortunately. Knowing well our passionate child, Eric and I grimaced when I read aloud the early morning email. We knew what was coming, and we buckled up to navigate it.
Still in her jammies, Sophia ran excitedly into our room to wake my husband and me. “It’s soccer day! I’m a Predator!” She found us staring at her. Upon hearing the news, her face immediately displayed her emotion, and her cry commenced somewhat weakly, then quickly strengthened and crescendoed. “NO!! It’s not fair!” Sophia raged. “How come Zoe gets to play and I don’t? Can’t we go somewhere else? Can’t they clean up the mud? Let me play, Mama!” We comforted her the best we could, agreeing that the present circumstance was the pits. We empathized, saying that we’d be bummed, too, if our first game of the season about which we were totally geeked was canceled. Stupid rain…I’m with ya, Girl! Even Zoe chimed in, patting Sophia on the back and placing her head on Sophia’s shoulder. “It’s okay, Sister. Now you can come and watch me play!” Sweet sentiment, desired effect unaccomplished.
It was a teaching moment. Rev. Mommy dug in, pastoral touch and voice compassionately attending to my child. “Oh Honey, it sure is a stinker when things don’t happen as we hoped or planned, isn’t it?” Sophia nuzzled herself into my lap and nodded while she wept. I get it, I’ve been there, I told her. It’s okay to be sad and even disappointed. You know what, though? Maybe God knows something that we don’t about how today is going to go. Sometimes when we don’t get what we want, it’s because God may be protecting us from something, and even because God has something better in store for us. She looked up at me, seemingly confused. I wasn’t sure which way this was going to go. “Humph!” protested Soph. She frowned ferociously, emphatically crossed her arms in front of her body, stormed off to her room and shut herself in.
About 15 minutes later, Sophia came out of her room. She had wiped her face and was dressed for the day. Without a trace of pouting she proclaimed herself ready to eat breakfast and go to Zoe’s game. The change in her demeanor was complete and remarkable. Eric and I showered her with praises for feeling her emotions, dealing with them appropriately and rallying. Yes we are Sophia’s biased parents, but we were impressed. We concurred that both of us know quite a few adults who have neither the emotional maturity nor capacity to do what our 7-year-old just did.
Three days later, Sophia read aloud to me The Tale of the Three Trees, a folktale about 3 trees who had grand dreams for themselves. Per the instructions of her second grade teacher, I asked Sophia to summarize the story. “Each of the trees dreamed of being really special. But when they got cut down, they weren’t made into those things,” Sophia reported. “So, they were confused, and sad and disappointed. But then, they all ended up having something to do with Jesus, and everything was better.” Well done, I said. Wondering if she was able to discern the meaning, I pressed on. “So, what do we learn from this book? What’s the point?” Sophia smiled, “That sometimes things don’t turn out the way that you plan or want them to. But, that’s okay because God has something better! Kinda like me and the soccer game the other day, Mama.” She happily shrugged (as if to say, “Duh!”) and popped up from the sofa. “May I go play, now?” I acquiesced, hugged and kissed her, but remained, in awe of my child. Clearly the student, I prayed and meditated upon what I’d been graced to witness. Surely, the presence of the Lord was in that place.
[The] disciples came to Jesus asking, ‘Who gets the highest rank in God’s kingdom?’ For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, ‘I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom’ (Matthew 18: 1-5a, The Message).