It still weighs heavy on my heart. I am not proud of my behavior, but all I can do going forward is to make sure I keep my heart open and try my very best to be more understanding.
In August, my family traveled to Rhode Island for the day to be with my best friend and her family (her parents live in Westerly). We were enjoying a fun day at the beach (a place where my best friend and I played together as young girls, now watching our six young children play together) when a little girl came to play with my oldest daughter. I LOVE meeting new friends on the beach! It’s great for my children and it is what a day at the beach is all about!
However, I became very skeptical of this little girl (not so little actually, turns out she was 14, playing with our children ages 1-8) when she invited herself to sit under our umbrella. She walked right up as we were all eating lunch, but I let her join. I proceeded to talk to my girlfriend and her sister-in-law about our three year olds and their sleep challenges. A few moments into the conversation, the girl interrupted and said, “Oh just wait till you have teenagers, they are much harder to deal with.” I was so shocked that she was listening to what we were saying and then commenting! I could tell my daughter was getting uncomfortable, so I politely asked the girl to let us finish lunch and then she could play with the kids again.
Ten minutes later, when our children were back to making sand sculptures, the girl joined. It was if she was watching and waiting to get back out there with them. After some time, she began to fight with the three and five year olds about sand toys. This was unacceptable to my friend and I. We intervened and set things straight. Moments later a group of three adults crowded around our children trying to play with them; they were family members of this girl. Words can’t adequately describe the discomfort we felt. We pulled them all away and went swimming.
Fast-forward an hour or so, my daughter and I went for a swim in the ocean. She asked me to go, so I knew she wanted me alone. When we were swimming she said, “Mommy, that girl told me she was adopted. She said she lived with many different families until her mom adopted her.”
My heart sank.
This sweet girl was probably not taught beach etiquette or social cues. She was obviously just longing for fun with friends. I was so wrong to judge her and view her as an inconvenience rather than an opportunity to make new friends. As a loving and devoted mother, how could I make such accusations about a young girl who has been through so much?
In this moment, I was also incredibly proud of my daughter.
Although this girl made her feel visibly awkward at times, she was a good friend. She was loving and didn’t once hesitate or hold back. I learned a great lesson from my brave and strong daughter.
This story is my reminder this holiday season to be kind, be inclusive and to not judge. You never know what another person’s story is.
How will you be kind to others this holiday season?