My daughter stared, crestfallen, at her broken teacup. Her friend was visiting, and she’d asked me to let them play with her porcelain tea set, so I took down from the high shelf in her room. They had played wonderfully together until, in a moment of impulsivity, a tiny hand banged it against the table. The delicate gold-rimmed cup cracked into jagged-edged halves.
As I searched for shards and tissues, I had a bit of mom remorse, thinking I should’ve suggested the plastic set instead, and reconsidering whether a three-year-old should have something so fragile. A couple days later, when the super glue had dried, my daughter handled her tea cups with a new reverence. Little by little, she is learning to take good care of what is precious to her. That’s a lesson she wouldn’t have learned with her plastic set.
I know the tea party phase will pass all too quickly, and soon she will be busy flirting and texting (or rolling her eyes at her lame mom who still thinks texting is the big thing). I already worry about those tough years. I’m encouraged, though, by the character of the middle school and high school kids I know.
In my pre-mom days, I got the chance to volunteer as a chaperone on youth events at our church. On one trip, our group had stopped at the café in a grocery store for a quick meal, and on the way in, some of the girls noticed a cute boy working outside the store. Unfortunately, one of the girls got a nosebleed in the middle of our meal. She went to the bathroom and tried to get it to stop without success, so she sat, embarrassed, trying to look discreet while holding a napkin up to her nose.
Soon it was time to leave. It was a mortifying situation for a preteen – walking by a cute boy with blood running from one’s nose. She had friends who loved her, though. The rest of the girls grabbed napkins and crumpled them up to their noses, too. My favorite photo of youth ministry was taken that day: our cute girls, trendy boots and tennies crunching the snow, walking toward the car in a wide row. Even with their faces half-hidden by napkins, it’s obvious that they are laughing.
This could have been a story about a cute boy. I wouldn’t have remembered it. Instead, it’s the story about the type of friend I hope my daughter has one day, and the type of friend I hope my daughter is one day – the kind who remembers that we take good care of what is precious to us.
Sometimes, that looks like a preschooler holding her teacups with deliberate gentleness. Sometimes, that looks like twelve-year-olds holding napkins to their noses with loving abandon. People-treasures or moment-treasures or thing-treasures – our love is shown in how we handle the things we hold.