Healing comes in strange places, sometimes. One little boy, a mama whose heart was injured long ago, and a sweet girlie who loves everyone the same.
My daughter makes friends wherever she goes, so it shouldn't surprise me that all the neighbors know her and love her. And I guess it doesn't; one look at her charming one-dimpled smile and most people are smitten.
But one of her friends does surprise me. I didn't expect a six-and-a-half year old boy to fall under her spell.
What I know of boys that age could fill books, but none of them would be good. When I was younger, boys were competition. They were mean, they thought they were smarter than me just because they were male, and I had to prove them wrong. I could go on and on about the boys who wronged me, teased me, made me cry and even about the one who challenged me to a playground competition (of his own design, of course) to prove that boys were better than girls.
The fact that I ever fell in love is astounding, but then again, Dave is an amazing man.
What I know of boys is to keep my distance. If they prove themselves over time, they might be worthy of my friendship. But you never know when they'll say one of the harsh things, usually in jest, that I've come to associated with men, and then my heart will break all over again. And so my inclination is to keep her away from strange boys, to hold her hand until I know they won't bowl her over. I want her to be safe and not hurt, and that's one of the ways I know to do that.
But the neighbors have boys. Two of them, and they're outside all day long, just like my girl. And they have this dog who the girl loves, especially since we don't have one of our own. Meeting them was inevitable. Friendship was not.
I didn't expect gentleness from this little boy. I didn't expect him to call my girl to the fence and help her touch his dog through the wires. I didn't expect her to come home saying his name. I didn't expect him to invite her over to his tire swing and then, when I brought her, to push her gently so she wouldn't fall out.
I didn't expect any of this for my girl, but it's what I found.
My heart still rolls over when he comes to the fence calling her name, but not because I'm worried. Now, it's because I'm amazed. There is at least one little boy with a gentle soul, who loves babies and knows how to play with little kids.
I pray for him, now, that no one takes that away from him. I pray that, no matter what the other boys say, he becomes a man who knows how to cradle and comfort. And I pray that, someday, he has a little girl of his own . . . because every gentle man needs one of those.