I sensed right away that something was different during after-school pickup yesterday. The first clue: six strapping eighth-graders running wildly from the middle school toward a vehicle in the parking lot. Out from the vehicle’s window, a gigantic box of diapers was being thrust.
That’s right, it’s the last day of the Diaper Derby.
I’d seen something about it flash by on the school’s online newsletter, and my own kids had summoned me to buy a package of diapers for the cause. Then the night before this scene, I’d noticed the status of one of my son’s friend’s Facebook pages: “!!!KENNELYS ADVISORY!!! BRING DIAPERS!!!!! WE CAN WIN THIS :))” Obviously, there was an intense competition going on between the eighth-grade advisory classes to see who could gather up the most diapers. All this to supply a local crisis pregnancy clinic with a renewed stash of diapers for the infants who would be needing them.
My youngest and I watched as the hoard of testosterone-filled boys dashed back toward the school doing the Diaper Derby Dance, slapping each other with High-5s. They stopped just outside the school doors and looked up. From the second floor of the building, we could see clearly the class that awaited the Diaper Heroes. Some of them were giving the thumbs-up, some were jumping up and down, some were flashing numbers on their hands to indicate the diaper count. By all appearances, this class had won, thanks to the parent who had made one last trip to Target in the nick of time.
But no! This was not to be the final diaper count, the final word. Soon, other students from other classes began emerging from the building. By their movements, it seemed time was of the essence — the clock was ticking. We saw probably eight or nine other students running to diaper-spewing vehicles to collect their gains. It wasn’t so clear, now, the winners.
Watching all this play out, I began to feel myself going into “Biggest Sap Ever” mode. As my 4-year-old jabbered to me from his booster seat, I began wiping away tears, and felt thankful my older kids weren’t around yet to see.
I know what the energy was about for those kids. They were in competition mode. It was about being the biggest and best. Sure, they knew it was all for a good cause, but they’re in junior high, not truly capable of thinking too deeply beyond their own immediate needs of claiming victory. Regardless, in the end, it didn’t so much matter the source of their energy. Their enthusiam moved me, even knowing they weren’t seeing exactly what I was.
While visions of victory danced in their heads, my mother heart and brain were imaging a young mother coming into the pregnancy center feeling scared and alone, wondering if she could possibly summon the courage to bring the child within her into the world. I was feeling her feelings as the truth was shared with her that her child was not just a mass of meaningless tissues and that she could do this, and that doing this would make all the difference. I could feel her relief at the realization that she would not be alone, even if her future suddenly included a million question marks. And I could envision her baby — a brand-new life full of a million possibilities who, if not for one brave mother and a crew of loving volunteers, might be cast into oblivion.
That’s not what those eighth-graders likely were thinking, nor should they have been. They’re still kids, and they ought to be able to enjoy their childhoods and the exhilaration that comes through the act of giving, no matter the cause.The adult world will come to them soon enough. In fact, it’s right around the corner.
The final word on Facebook? “I LOVE MY ADVISORY!!! GOOD JOB GUYS! WE BEAT STRAND BY 100 OR MORE!!!! 2826!!! WE GOTTA CELEBRATE!!”
Wow — amazing what those kids can accomplish when they set their minds to it. Those babies who are coming into the world through imperfect circumstances, they’ll have a chance to change the world soon enough. For now, it’s the youthful energy of kids like these who are making a difference — more than they can possibly realize.
My tears were mainly tears of joy, being reminded as I was that giving is still alive in the world, even in the hearts of teens who we sometimes discount. Our local Fargodome was filled with food for the hungry recently all because of this age group.
So don’t even think about losing hope, or seeing only darkness on the horizon. As long as the exhilaration of giving is alive and well, as I just witnessed, as long as hearts are on fire to love, we are going to be just fine.
What has brought you hope this Christmas season?