It was a rainy Indiana day in November, an hour into a playdate with the boy I had the biggest crush on. My kindergarten self could hardly stand the excitement, and I was game for anything. We had played a few rounds of Hungry, Hungry, Hippo but what he really wanted to do was play golf in his backyard. I would follow him pretty much anywhere and so agreed happily, though I had never played golf before. Turns out, that wasn’t much of a problem. He had one club and in his mind, playing golf was a solo activity. He wanted me to just watch him, never offering me a turn and not really saying much of anything. I remember feeling so uncomfortable, with my hands on my hips trying to pay attention to this boy and his dumb golf while also feeling totally disappointed in the entire situation. I’ve told this stories so many times over the years; usually to friends who are bending over backwards to impress or please someone, as a picture of the ultimate low point in my mind. As I saw it, I was so pathetic and blinded by love, I stood in the freezing rain to watch a five-year-old play the most boring sport that exists (no offense to any golfers).
A few weeks ago, I came to see this story in a whole new light. I was babysitting the sweetest little boy I know, who runs excitedly to the door whenever I come over. He’s about to go to kindergarten, so almost the same age as my golfer-crush and I during the famed incident. This last time I saw him, he wanted to show me all of his creations on Minecraft. Now, I am familiar with Minecraft, and he is not the only person who has tried to show me his creations on Minecraft; I have a really hard time being interested in the game because I consider the aesthetics to be too harsh. Alas, here I am, really trying to focus on his buildings and the various plans he’s made. Though it was a solo game, he kept looking to make sure I was paying attention, and to see my reactions, and during our Minecraft time, he was very vulnerable. I could hear his voice change as he showed me with pride his achievements and this thing he had become quite passionate about. He was letting me into his world. I think back on my friend the “golfer” and I believe he too was trying to let me into his world. This story obviously has nothing to do with crushes; there was nothing romantic in his trying to show me golfing, his thing that he really enjoyed. He just wanted to let someone in on the thing he loved. I believe all children are desperately trying to invite people into their world, to make people see the happiness they find in their passions and pleasures. It’s not always so easy to detect; the boy I babysit for is lucky that he has many people loving his world and living in his world, with his encouraging parents and loving teachers happily existing in his joy. Not all children have these cheerleaders surrounding them, and they often invite you into their world in an unloving way when they haven’t been taught to be loving. Listen beyond the words of those around you; keep an ear out for an invitation that keeps from the deepest corners of our hearts.