For all the pictures of smiling kids in fresh uniforms and crisp hats flooding our news feeds at this time of year, there’s also another reality – children who are teary and anxious. One of them is my little girl – and this morning while feeling sad she met a little boy at school whose parents should be very proud of him.
My daughter is six years old and she’s in Year 1 this year. Plenty of kids by this age are trotting off to school without a backward glance and she probably would have been too – but she’s changed schools. We’ve moved house (just a week ago, in fact) and we know virtually nobody in our new area. But this morning we had an experience at school that made my heart sing.
The bell had rung and my previously happy little girl was starting to look a bit anxious as I suggested leaving her with her class and heading home. I could see the tears welling in her eyes as her little fingers gripped mine more tightly. And then suddenly, from somewhere behind us, came the voice of a pint-sized saviour.
“Are you feeling sad? You don’t need to be nervous! I can be your friend and look after you!” His name, he informed me solemnly, was Keegan.
“Look, I’ll stand right here with you – and I can even hold your hand if you feel worried! And look! I can even sing you a song!”
I asked him what song he was going to sing.
“I’m not really sure, because I’ve only just made it up now, but it goes kind of like – Yoooouuuu don’t haaaave toooo beeee worrrried …”
He walked with us all the way to the classroom, humming variations on his made up song the whole way, and resting his little hand on my daughter’s shoulder whenever she looked upset. What a guy.
And it got me thinking.
I often tell my children to be friendly, to include others and to be kind to people at school – but sometimes they need help knowing how to start. Not everyone is a natural like Keegan. But I’d love my kids to care for others, to seek out those in need and comfort them, just like he did for my daughter this morning. I hope they’ll learn to do some of that by watching me do it. But I’m going to be even more intentional than that now. I’m going to start to teach them some of the words to say – Hi! Would you like to play with me? and Why don’t you come with me? I can help you – and we’re going to practise them together.
Will you join us? Let’s start a revolution in the school playgrounds of Australia together. And Keegan – you’re great. Thanks for making our day better.