Late last week I promised the kids that if they allowed me to get all of my work done on their day off of school yesterday, then I would ditch the office in the afternoon, and we would go play in the park. So they did just that they didn’t bang on the doors, they didn’t scream my name, they didn’t hop the gate, they let me be until 2:59 p.m. (EXACTLY ON THE DOT!) and then came the banging, the yelling Miss Colleen, the can we go, is it time to go, “Let’s go Miss Colleen,” I don’t think anyone can begin to imagine the joy it brings to my heart to walk three blocks to the park with 9 kids! I think I was more excited about it than they were, I couldn’t stop thinking about it all morning, I thought about it before I went to bed on Monday night and I told EVERYONE I possibly could about my play date plans!
So as we walked to the park, the closer to the park the quieter the neighborhoods, the “nicer” the neighborhood, and the less desolate it becomes, it’s honestly a world of difference between block 1 and block 3 between my house and the park. As we got to the last block before the park, there was an elderly lady sitting on her steps and as we walked past, I could hear her make a comment to her stoop sitting partner, something along the lines of here come the noisy hoodlums, I kind of side glanced at her and quickly reminded myself I love Jesus, and Jesus would keep moving and love her regardless of her ignorance. We walked a little farther and there was a family playing outside of their home and the little girl asked her mother, why the white lady was with all the black kids. The more we walked, and the more I felt my kids and even to some degree I were being judged, I began to pray in that moment and thank God for allowing me to be the white woman who walks 3 blocks to the park with those hoodlum black children, I began to thank God that I don’t see the world in Black and white, I began to thank God for opportunities to tear down the black and white boundaries with these kids.
When we got the park, we rolled down the big hills through the dirt and raced to see who could get to the bottom first (oh and please don’t think they didn’t make me roll down the hill with them, I mean what kind of adult is going to let 9 kids taunt her about being scared?), we ran to the pond to see if we could see fish, we raced to the playground and saw who could swing the highest and fastest, we raced down the slides and threw the football. All the while I couldn’t stop thinking about how thankful I was for this afternoon.
As we continued to play, a young white woman walked up to me with her toddler, and said, “Excuse me, are you with….” and I completed her sentence for her, “All those black kids, yes I am,” and her response to me was, “Wow, it’s amazing how much respect they have for you, how much fun you’re having with them, and how good they are.” I politely but sternly asked her what them being black had to do with anything, and she told me that she didn’t think she could ever do what I do, so I prodded her, what is that I do that is any different than what we should ALL be doing which is loving others. So then and there I said, Ma’am, “I think you should come to our program one Wednesday evening, you’ll see a room full of white people, loving a room full of black kids, and you’ll see that it’s not about black or white, it’s about loving each other, it’s about us all being humans, and really all being the same.” And with that she walked away and told me that she just didn’t think that was something that would interest her.
As it started to get dark and the kids and I headed home, I thought to myself, why does it matter that I am black and they are white, as I am watching them run to the next corner and wait for me, I realized it doesn’t matter to me, it doesn’t matter to Jesus, it doesn’t matter, and once again I thanked God for the reminder it DOESN’T matter. One of the older girls who was with us, she’s 10 told me she overheard me telling the lady that I loved the kids not because of their color but because that’s what we are supposed to do, and this little girl, said to me, “Ms. Colleen, I am so thankful that you love me even though I am black, and I am glad that you told that lady it wasn’t about us being black and you being white.” Then she hugged me and told me how much she loved me.
The best part of the whole afternoon was realizing with my actions, my faith and my heart I was able to teach a lesson to my kids, I was able to make them realize that it doesn’t matter, I am going to love them through their struggles, through their color, through the pain, through the weariness, through the tears, through the hugs, through the temper tantrums and I hate you Ms. Colleens, my love for them is so much bigger than the words “I love you” or a hug…it’s a deep unconditional love the kind of love Jesus has for me love.
So here’s my one prayer request, would you pray with me for these kids, that they do learn it’s not about black and white? That they deserve to be loved regardless? And would you pray with me about other people’s ignorance towards color? Would you pray with me that I can help these kids learn to love without boundaries?