Last Sunday, I woke up and wished I hadn't, not that early anyway. But I had to take Charlie to Sunday School, so the fact that I was feeling blue and sorry for myself didn't matter much. While Charlie is in class, I sit in the CCD office with two friends, talking and laughing -- oh yeah, and helping with any prep stuff the Sunday School teachers need. Knowing my friends were going to be there made the rising and not-so-shining a little bit more palatable.
Imagine, then, how I felt when I arrived and found no one there. One quick text message and I was reminded that one friend was out of town. The other one opted to sleep in and come to church later. Waaahhhh! Didn't she know I was counting on her to be there? How could she have not read my mind or sensed my sad (and selfish) aura?
A big sigh and harumph later, I found myself in the cafeteria eating a donut. Oh yes, I did. Caramel frosted with white fluff inside. It didn't make me feel as good as I had hoped, but it did provide temporary comfort. After about 20 minutes of wallowing and self-pity, I decided I could at least go help set up the Christmas breakfast for the Sunday School teachers.
When I got to the gym where the breakfast was to be served, I found 3 small children. Let's call them Kate, Miles and Nora. I know these kiddos. My (missing) friends and I keep an eye on them while their mom teaches one of the Sunday School classes and their dad sings in the choir. At first, their presence in our little Sunday circle was a bit annoying. This was OUR time, our KID-FREE time. Just what we wanted -- 3 kids to look after. Nice Christian attitude, huh?
But we watch them and play with them, chatting over their heads as we can. Yet last Sunday, there was no WE to watch them. Oh, there were other people in the gym setting up, keeping a distant eye on Kate, Miles and Nora, who were coloring pictures of Advent wreaths. I decided there were plenty of cooks in the kitchen and I'd go at least be a physical presence for the kiddos.
Kate and Miles came to show me their pictures. Nora toddled behind them, waving her paper, too. There was a volleyball nearby, so I picked it up and we started to play catch. Kate only wanted me to throw the ball to her. She was ok if I threw it to the other two, but she didn't want to catch a ball anyone else had thrown. Nora ventured a bit away and I called to her to come back. Kate ran to fetch her.
After several minutes of playing ball and chasing Nora, I decided we should play "Red Light, Green Light." Miles wasn't so keen on the idea because he didn't want to lose. I told him there were no winners. It was just something fun to do. Then back to catch. Then a little more coloring.
I can't remember how the making videos started, except that I was probably looking for another time killer. Kate used my scarf as a prop for an interpretive dance. I shot a quick video on my iPhone and let the kids watch it immediately. That was all Miles had to see.
"Make a movie of me!," he insisted as he began one big long twirl, sans scarf.
Nora came and plopped down in my lap, watch the videos as they were recorded, laughing and wanting to watch them over again. I love the cozy feel of a kid sitting on my lap, head tucked under my chin. I turned the camera and recorded Nora saying "ho! ho! ho!" and smiling one of those chubby-cheeked toddler grins.
Soon, church was over and their dad came to pick them up.
"If they said I was filming them, I was," I offered. "But not in any creepy way. They were performing dances and silliness and then would watch themselves. I'm going to delete the videos."
He assured me that was fine and thanked me for watching them. It struck me that I hadn't felt sad since I'd stepped into the gym. As I said goodbye, Miles yelled, "Wait! I need to give you a hug!" (Insert melted me here.) Then Kate came to me and said "I'm so glad you came today. It was really boring before you got here."
I smiled and thought "I'm glad I came too."
Sometimes I need my friends. Or a caramel-frosted donut. Or both. And sometimes what I really need is to just get over myself.