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Friday, March 2, 2012

Peer Relationships: Same Gender, Scene 2

     “Sojourner, look what I made?” Molly was coming at a dead run and speaking at the same time. Gone was the shy countenance of the earlier days.

     “Wow, that’s pretty, Molly. Want me to pin it on you? Or did Bluebird tell you girls to wait until later?” All camp personnel had some nature name and not their real names, according to their specific group. Molly was in the “birds” group.

     “No, I can’t put it on yet. I just wanted you to see it.” I handed the lovely nature pin with Molly’s name on it back to her, leaving with only one hand free of course. As we walked across the grounds on the way to Molly’s group table, I decided to ask her about the hand thing.

     “Molly, I am flattered that you have chosen me to walk with you but I was wondering… uh, why me? I’m not your group leader or one of your counselors. Why do you always want to hold my hand?” She stopped walking to think. Since my hand was securely glued to hers, I also stopped while Molly cogitated. When the little girl turned her smile up towards me, I held my breath. At least, she was still smiling so maybe I had not hurt her?

     “Well, Sojourner,” Molly’s free hand was firmly planted on her hip, as she shook her head and breathed out her answer with a sigh, “isn’t it obvious? I like you.” I gave Molly’s petite hand a gentle squeeze as she turned to realign herself at my side, continuing our walk over to her group. I felt like a real dumb bunny. I had been more than a bit too subtle.

     “I like you, too, Molly.” Molly twisted her head around to catch my smile and shot me another huge grin of recognition. Not today, I told myself. Just let it go and hold her hand.

     On the subsequent mornings, a very similar scene played out, except that most of what I had wanted to say to Molly never made it out of my thoughts. I mean, how could I complain about the little camper liking me? She just glowed every time she latched on to my hand. Molly was doing well with the activities in her group and Bluebird told me that Molly was really enjoying camp more than she had ever seen a first-timer get into it. Okay, so it would only be a few more days of hand-holding; I would buck up and relax. Camp was intended to be fun for the little girls, after all, not the Assistant Director/Counselor/Bugler. When I took a moment to think about it (as my mother recommended), it did feel good to have been singled out by one of the girls for no particular reason at all.

     All-too-soon it was the final day of Camp. The last time I would sound the bugle call to assemble, the “Mess” call to eat and, now, “Taps” to close out the day/camp. Poised with trumpet at my lips, I waited for the signal from the Camp Director. For the first time ever recorded at this camp, a girl broke ranks before the “Dismissed” command was given. While others could see her, she was out of my line of sight. It was the small hand lightly holding my flexed elbow that gave me the first indication that Molly would be standing by me for the final sound of “Taps.”

    Soon girls were running in every which direction as Molly reached into her activities sack to bring out a lovely little wrapped package. “I asked my mother to buy this for you, Sojourner.” I hope you like it.” Kneeling down, I reached for the gift, tears glistening in my eyes.

     “It’s beautiful, Molly,” I choked out, lifting out the colorful lavender hankie. “It’s my favorite color, too. I will think of you every time I look at this hankie. Thank you so much!” And I did, too… for the next 15 years! (It would still be with me now except that it perished in a fire when my “worldly goods” were being transported.) I kept that lavender hankie in my dresser drawer and glanced at it every day as the drawer was opened. It did get a bit frayed just from handling but I never used it for its intended purpose. Instead, it served to remind me that, even when I didn’t feel all that special, I was touching the heart of someone. I never forgot Molly or the feel of her small hand in mine. Both of us got a lot out of camp that year.
     God understands the needs we have as women to look up to older women for their wisdom and counsel. There are even ministries devoted to this mentoring. While these use the entire passage, this is the jist of it:

“Likewise, teach the older women … then, they can train the younger women… .” (Titus 2:3a, 4a)

     Perhaps the tender Father God was giving me a preview of things to come in my camp relationship with the little Molly? It would be just like Him!

****Have a great weekend!

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