A long-faced Lauryn sat on my bed with down cast eyes one evening as I busied around getting ready for the next day.
“What’s wrong sweetheart?” I asked as I put my clothes for the next day on my dresser.
She hesitated then looked up at me with sad eyes and said, “I’m always picked last, last for everything. In class, in gym, everything.”
Her statement took me back to my own elementary school days, as I remembered those awful feelings of inadequacy.
So what! I wanted to tell her and go on a tirade about how those miserable kids in her class don’t know how wonderful she really is, but I didn’t. A grown-up view with grown-up words about how one day it won’t matter are not the kind of thing an eight-year-old wants to hear or can even comprehend. This rejection is her world, she lives it every day. To her, it’s not about the future it’s about the right now. I know she thinks she is only person who feels this way. I know I was.
She slides off my bed and I kneel in front of her. We are the same height. I look at her, smile a little smile and take her hands in mine. Her soft eyes meet mine.
“You know, when I was your age I was picked last all the time too. I know it makes you feel lonely and unwanted.”
She lifts her head slightly, realizing someone else understands how she feels. Lauryn is studious and serious. She has big dreams for an eight-year-old; lofty goals.
“I’m not sure your classmates fully understand you, sweetie.” I tell her. “You write papers in class about being a Chemist someday. You have a love for learning and reading while they day dream about being on the playground. Be proud of who you are and hold on to your dreams. Try not to let their choices get you down. I know it’s hard to understand, but this is temporary. You won’t be picked last forever. I promise; I know it. Remember, you are loved more than you know and you are first in a lot of people’s hearts.”
There is a verse in the bible, Matthew 20:16, that talks about the last being first and the first being last. I tell her about this and some of the heaviness lifts.
She gives me a tight hug and a sly smile and says quietly in my ear, “Poppy always says I’m number one.”
I give my parents first grandchild a wink, knowing she is feeling better and she skips toward her room.
The long face long gone she gets ready for the next day too.