Friday, February 26, 2010

"That Was the Day My Heart Growed"

Friendship is important, even at four years old.

Ben had a rough morning Wednesday--it was waterworks for about forty-five minutes before we left the house because he wanted to stay home with me and not go to school (I was out of town last weekend and have had more evening commitments than usual, so I think he's feeling it).  I finally managed to get him in the car to go to school, but he told me he was going to be sad all morning.

When I picked him up later that morning, I asked him how his day was, unsure of what to expect.  I must have sounded concerned, because Ben gave me a look that indicated everything was fine, saying, "Quinn made me happy.  When I got to school, he said, 'Benjamin!' and that made my heart grow."  Then he chattered happily about his day all the way home.

I was touched by how profoundly he was impacted by his friend's simple enthusiasm to see him.  I believe Ben when he says his heart grew: when we are met with love in times of pain, we are changed.  We learn to trust, to reach out, to receive.  Ben experienced friendship in a vulnerable moment, and this small act of kindness reminded him of his value.  

I also love how incidental, how unassuming the exchange was.  There was no pep talk, no word of wisdom, no intentional encouragement from his buddy.  Quinn probably didn't even realize Ben was having a hard morning.  They are simply friends, and this friendship sustained Ben through a difficult morning, transformed his sadness into something good, something true.

It's interesting to me that Ben used the language of his heart growing, which I assume he borrowed from How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  Ben's love for this story borders on obsession.  During the last two Christmas seasons, he requested to read it countless times and then asked approximately a million and two questions about The Grinch: why he wants to steal Christmas, why his heart is too small, why he doesn't like the Whos, why he lies to CindyLou Who, why his heart grows, why he gives it all back at the end, why, why, why.  He and Abby and Daddy would act out the story, taking as many toys from the family room into the living room as their arms could carry and then bringing it all back again.  Usually I would play CindyLou Who, asking in a squeaky high voice as they gathered their loot, "Santy Claus, why?  Why are you taking our Christmas tree, why?"  He even bought Josh Grinch pajamas for Christmas, not because he thinks Josh is a grinch but because he's simply enamored with the story.  

So we've talked about The Grinch's behavior and why he doesn't like Christmas, and we've talked about what makes people mean or small-hearted.  We've talked about what The Grinch learns about Christmas and the Whos and how that changes him.  At the end of the book, of course, The Grinch is transformed by The Whos' sincere love for each other apart from the packages and trimmings and feasts.  As his sleigh of contraband Christmas teeters on a mountain peak, threatening to fall into the abyss below, The Grinch hears the Whos singing, sees their holiday spirit glowing brightly.  In turn, we learn that "in Whoville, they say, that the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day."  

Ben believes The Grinch's heart grows in response to the Whos love.  When met with Quinn's enthusiastic greeting, Ben recognized love and felt himself change.  This tiny exchange, which must have lasted mere seconds, impacted him deeply, enough that he told me the story again yesterday on our way home. 

"That was the day my heart growed," he concluded as we rounded the turn toward home.



  1. What a sweet story! I'm so glad your sweet Ben has such a genuine friend! True friendship is such a valuable gift - someone who knows and loves us just as we are, and who is simply glad to see us! (Also, too funny about the Grinch pretends at your house!) =)


    jtblakely007 at yahoo dot com

  2. Yes, me too! It was such a poignant reminder that friends, people, relationships matter, no matter how small we are. The other amazing element of the story is that this exchange completely overshadowed a difficult encounter with other classmates on the playground that day--an encounter that ordinarily would have left him reeling. His buddy somehow made him buoyant. May he always have someone in his life who rejoices in who he is...


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