When I was at church on Sunday, I had to go to the bathroom (I know, TMI, but I have a point, I promise). When I entered, I saw the toilet seat up. I smiled a little, knowing it was freshly cleaned. At that moment, a memory from kindergarten came rushing back to my mind.
I am almost 37 years old, so that was a long time ago. But, here is what I remember:
A girl in my class came rushing into the classroom after going to the bathroom exclaiming something like, “Ew, Ross went into the girls’ bathroom. I can tell because the seat was up!”
My little five-year-old self was shocked that this boy, Ross Wheeler, would go into the girls’ bathroom. The girl laughed at him, and I joined in because it was just so silly and gross.
My teacher, Ms. Fisher, noticed this exchange, and came up to the girl and me, and perhaps others. She then informed us that when bathrooms are cleaned, the seat is left up to show that it is clean. Ross had not in fact used the girls’ bathroom and it was not nice of us to say that he did.
I believed my teacher and moved on with my life, but I don’t remember if I apologized to Ross. To be honest, I probably didn’t. I was a good kid, but at that young age, I didn’t see any harm in what had happened. Ross was often the subject of jokes and laughter at his expense.
Now, I don’t remember many things from kindergarten, and this memory is definitely an obscure one. But, as the memory came back to me on Sunday, I realized just how profound it really was and that God wanted me to remember it.
I even talked to my kids in the van about it on the way home from church. I told the story and then I told them that we often make mean accusations out of ignorance, like the girl did. Some of us blindly believe those accusations without checking the facts, like I did. We are unkind to the accused, thinking we have that right because we have predetermined that the person’s worth is less than ours.
Then there are the wise people who have found the truth and have the courage to kindly share it, thus giving us an opportunity to learn and grow from our mistakes in judgment, like my teacher did.
We then have a choice – do we listen to the wise person who has the truth, or do we cling onto what we want to be true because it’s more fun or controversial?
And then if we do listen, what do we do about it? Do we just quietly move on, or do we acknowledge our faults and make things right? Do we go a step farther and work to prevent further events like that from happening?
I am pretty sure that since I don’t remember apologizing to Ross and then becoming his friend and advocate that I probably didn’t. I was only five, so I can’t be too hard on myself, but I truly wonder how Ross felt that day at school, and every other day.
I don’t remember clearly why he was made fun of so often, but I know looking back there was no good reason. Nobody deserves that kind of treatment just because they may be a little different.
I truly wish that I had befriended him – that I had had the courage to stand up to the bullies and be the friend Ross so desperately needed.
How many Rosses are in our lives, either in our circle or just someone we hear about on the news? How do we help them? Do we help them? Do we even realize they need help?
Tears are falling as I write this, because even though the story I am sharing isn’t earth-shattering, it teaches me such great lessons. I’m grateful that God helped me remember this.
I have grown up a lot since age five, and I do truly want to be more like my teacher. I want to be an advocate of truth, and I want to be an advocate for the persecuted as well. It bring a lot of fulfillment, peace and joy, knowing that what you are spreading is good for you and those around you.
I invite all of you to ponder on this little story as well! Search out those Rosses and give them the love and support they need. And help the truth of their worth, and other realities related to them, be known so they won’t be needless targets of unkindness.