Not too long ago I was released from my Sunday School teacher calling (to the 12 & 13-year olds) after 4 years doing it. They almost immediately put me in primary as the secretary. Our primary program is this Sunday so we've been practicing a lot. On the Sunday where we handed all the children their little strips of paper with their parts, there were a few children who rarely come that came that day and then a few new children. They watched as all the other children were given papers and asked to go to the front to practice. The primary president quickly re-assigned parts from others who never come to these children who were there and I went around handing them out. It was funny to me to see how they were suddenly so happy to be included and made a part of the program like all the other children. How easy it was to make these children smile.
Of course, it's not always that easy. On most Tuesdays I help in Sabrina's class. This Tuesday I went into the office to check in (that's what volunteers do here) when I saw one of the girls from Sabrina's class on the phone talking to someone (I assume her mother). Not long after I got to their class, the girl returned. I had a table out in the hall next to their room and would call them out one by one to work on reading with them. After a few students, it was the little girl's turn. She came and sat down.
I asked if she was feeling sick and she said, "Yeah". I told her I was sorry and hoped she would feel better soon to enjoy the rest of the day. She said, "I won't. I don't want to be here. I want to go home." After reading a little, I noticed she was struggling so I said, "Let's just do a little more and then you can go back inside to do math." Her response, "I hate math. I hate everything in my class. I don't want to be here." We got to the word "us" and she said, "I can't read that one because I don't know the U sounds." So we worked on them and I told her that maybe she can tell her mom that they can practice at home. She said, "She won't! She doesn't even help me with my homework!" Soon I asked what she was going to be for halloween. She said, "I don't know. Probably just a stupid kid cuz that's what I am." Of course, I told her she wasn't, but she was obviously not in the mood to listen to me." I told her that I hoped the rest of her day would be better and she went back in the room and the next child came out.
After I was done, I went inside the room to give the papers back to the teacher and she was on her way out, telling the kids that they'd be right back. She asked if I could watch them while she was gone and she left with the same little girl. I asked the kids, "Is she sick?" But the children told me that their teacher was taking her to the office because she had a temper tantrum. I told them that she was just having a bad day and maybe needed a friend to be extra nice to her that day. Then the kids started telling me how she is like that everyday.
After school, Sabrina told me that someone in the class wrote and passed around a note that said, "Do you like_____?" and everyone was writing "NO!", but she wrote "yes". I told her how sad I was that they would do that and that could hurt her feelings if she saw it. I was glad that she wrote yes, but it would have been better for her to crumble it up, throw it away and tell them it wasn't nice. Of course, she's a timid little girl so that didn't occur to her.
I was sad that the little girl seemed to be so sad and mad and that I wasn't able to help her feel better. It isn't always as easy as giving them a strip of paper and including them, or giving them a sticker or saying nice things. But I'll keep trying anyway. And I will try to think of ways I can help someone feel included and important this week.