February 12, 2013
Today I learned: “The value of friendship”
Friendship is a Choice that is Worth the Time.
I always believed that peace begins in the home. If there is not peace in the home, it won’t be in our communities, our society, or our world. It must start at home. I know this. My children didn’t have to teach me that (although sometimes they remind me that getting really really mad won’t get me to that outcome).
But today Anthony taught me a great lesson on friendship and love. Seeing as Valentine’s Day is just two days away (as I write this), it seems a timely lesson – A lesson that also fits with my focus of peace.
This story actually starts at the end; because it wasn’t until the end that I realized what I had already learned in the beginning.
We ended up at McDonald’s. I was getting the food while Anthony immediately ran for the playroom. He brought ice cream because…well, sometimes eating ice cream first is important (a lesson for another time). When I came into the playroom, he had his ice cream stick (think “fudge pop”) wrapped in napkins to keep from dripping. A great idea. A brilliant idea. However, not an idea I had thought of. When I asked him where he got the little bundle containing the drips, he pointed to a woman and said: “she gave them to me, Mommy.” And I thought that was nice and smiled at the other woman.
Not too long after he had pointed out the kind (and brilliant) woman who gave him the ice-cream stick swaddle, it was time for them to leave. He waved to the boy that was leaving with her and yelled “Bye, Friend!!”
Friend. A boy he had met 5 minutes earlier. And he meant it, he meant “friend.” It was authentic and pure, and he really felt friendship for this boy. I could tell by his voice, it was not a flippant remark at all. It was purposeful and meaningful, this boy who had no name was indeed Anthony’s friend.
He immediately picked up a new game with a new friend until it was time to go. Again, he played with this boy and treated the stranger as a real friend. He showed him respect. He treated him with kindness. And he wished him a good day when they parted ways. He didn’t do this to be polite. He didn’t do this because it was the “right thing to do”. He treated this stranger as a real friend because…well, he was.
As we were leaving, he picked up his teddy bear. It was the same one that had joined us on our entire day’s journey. It was the same teddy bear that I buckled in the seat belt next to Anthony. The same bear that I gave kisses to and promised to buy a treat to if he was well behaved. The same bear I asked to guard the car while we went into the store. And this bear…was Anthony’s friend. He loved him. Full of stuffing, unable to reciprocate…Anthony loved him anyway. Because he chose to, and for no other reason.
Which brings me back to the first stop of the day – before McDonald’s, before ice cream, and before a teddy bear guard. I had to go to the Girl Scout store for my daughter. It was a quite a drive, but I knew exactly what I needed for her uniform and I could be in and out within 5 minutes, so I didn’t mind having to make the trek out to the store. After being guided back into a room that served as a store, I instantly found what I was looking for. Little did I know that I would spend and hour at the register of the store getting to know the 75 year old man operating it. He has a Grandson named Anthony, like my son. He has coached baseball, among other sports. Although his “ticker” prevents him from doing that now, he happily occupies the bleachers to cheer on his grandchildren in all their sporting events. He has been working with children for 48 years. His wife ran an in-home daycare, certified by the State of Texas. They fostered children in addition to raising their own. He was never a Boy Scout himself, but he volunteered to help them and was commended by the troop for his service to the scouts when he graduated from high school (it was many years ago he told me with a smile). I know a lot about him. Incidentally, he knows a lot about me too as I opened up and shared my own stories. But despite seeing his name badge, and despite him seeing my credit card…we left each other not really even knowing each other’s name. Just the same, for that hour we were nothing short of…friends.
As we were leaving McDonald’s and I watched Anthony hug his bear after saying goodbye to his friend… I reflected back at the man at the Girl Scout store. Imagine if I keep that lesson long enough to treat all strangers with the same kind of love that Anthony taught me is possible? I would be a lot closer to that outcome of peace… and there would be a lot more love in my world. That’s worth making time for.
Thank you, Pepperoni – You are so smart.