Today a bunch of us walked some little kids out to “The Rock”. It’s a swimming spot on the island that the kids love, because the rocks that go into the water drop off very suddenly, and it makes for good jumping fun. There were probably four of us, and about six kids. Brittany, seven years old, wasn’t a strong swimmer, so she borrowed a life jacket from someone. It was pretty bulky and slowed her down on the walk, so I offered to carry it, and we hung back a little from the rest of the group. While walking, we had an awesome conversation. Here are some of Brittany’s tidbits of wisdom:
“Some people only care about being pretty. I think wanting to be pretty is okay, but they forget that they can be ANYTHING. A police officer, a camping teacher... Anything! Not just pretty. Anything!”
“It makes me mad when all the kids throw their garbage on the ground, and especially in the lake. IT’S ALL ABOUT NATURE! I LOVE nature! They need to show it respect.”
“Some of the kids at home are so mean. Some people are just so mean. All I want is to see people be nice to each other... and a unicorn.”
All this wisdom, and she’s seven! She had the most adorable round face, and ever the sensitive type. By the time we had reached The Rock, I had totally fallen for her.
And do you know what happened to this beautiful little person by the time we made it to the rock? Kids twice her age started splashing water at her. Recall: she’s not a strong swimmer, and the water is COLD. She yelled at them to stop (she had told me she was good at standing up for herself, and indeed she was), but then they just started making fun of her. Some little guy pretended to push her off the rock and into the deep water, and almost did.
Once she got in the water, folks from our group made sure to keep a hand on her life jacket and spot her while she swam around. She was very proud of herself for swimming in the deep water. I was getting really tired and cold and asked if she would be willing to walk with me, and was happy when she agreed.
As we started the fifteen-minute walk back to her camp, the boy who nearly pushed her in the water was behind us with his friend. As they caught up with us, they started taunting Brittany again, making fun of her for getting splashed, and for getting into the water so slowly. I was trying to explain to these guys why their actions were harmful and dangerous, but Brittany was doing a much better job of this than me. She handles conflict with some serious poise, especially for a seven-year old.
The next day when I saw Brittany, she told me she had been thinking about those two boys last night, and the things they said to her. She didn’t sleep very well. I told her that the same thing was true with me. We shared a really great hug, and then she covered my face with little bow stickers.
Tonight, one of the young women from our group came to chat with me. She said that Brittany had been sitting with her during Mass. At one point, seemingly out of the blue, Brittany looked up to her, and do you know what she said?
“You and your friends are my unicorns.”