Risking rejection in the first grade classroom

I had a happy childhood where I felt loved and accepted but sometimes I still worry about what others think of me. I long to retire that battle but it lingers. So when I agreed to be a lunch buddy for a first grader at a school where many underprivileged kids attend I started wondering if I’d done the right thing.

What if she didn’t like me? Didn’t want me to be her “lunch-buddy” after meeting me and spending a lunch together. How embarrassing it would be for the school officials to inform me that there just wasn’t a “connection”. But I really felt that this was what God wanted me to do so I showed up that first Thursday for lunch.

I met my girl – my “lunch buddy”.  A first grader just like my daughter but with dark skin. She is precious and all things adorable. I’m still getting to know her. At our second lunch I knew there were some issues at home. Hard stuff going on there. Possibly the reason I was assigned to be her lunch buddy.

The third week we met all her classmates tricked me into peeling their oranges while the teacher was out of the room. The teacher came in and saw the long line of kids waiting for me to peel their orange. I was feeling very nice and helpful and sort of proud of my humanitarian efforts toward the long line of giggling first graders. In the most loving yet direct way the teacher told those kids with her hand on hip and her neck doing a hula hoop move, “Ex-cuh-use me?! Please do not take advantage of the kindness of a stranger. You peel your oranges by yourself every other day do not ask her to do it for you now.” It was then I realized I had been taken by an entire class of first graders. I did a scared laugh and looked at my girl and said, “Oops, sorry, I just got ya’ll in trooooouble.” She laughed and said, “Yeah, we know how to peel oranges.” Oh my word, I just got told!

We met for our fourth time last week and I noticed my girl was dressed in the same boots and pants as another little girl. She told me they were friends which led into a discussion on true friendship. I shared with her about my best friend and how we would show up in the same clothes also without even planning it and how we were besties for life but it wasn’t the clothes that made us best friends – it was kindness and being a good friend to one another. I turned to my girl and said, “Who is your best friend?” She pointed to me and gave me a huge hug and it melted my heart. It did. Right there in the school lunchroom my heart spilled like milk. And I realized that meeting this little girl and risking her not liking me or her class taking advantage of my orange peeling gullibility was worth it.

I’m linking up with my friend, Amy, about taking risks. I’m learning so much through this series. Like the fact that I don’t risk much anymore. And like the fact that faith and risk go hand in hand and if this is really true what does this say about my own personal faith. Ouch. So this weekly writing gig that I didn’t really take seriously at first is doing a number on me. It might be because Amy wrote all our names on a post it note and stuck them to her door and is praying for us every week. How cool is that? Very. Most of the people doing this writing deal are real writers and their “risk” is submitting a book to be edited or published. Really awesome stuff. And then there’s me – the girl risking to sit at a lunch table with first graders. Ha! Er uh, yes, indeed I have room for growth in this area of taking risk.