Walk Tall Like a Giraffe

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November 19, 2015 by Heather

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Last night I was the one who took Parker to church for Awana’s.  This is normally something Andrew does, but he had a dinner thing so off we went.  I scooted him into his classroom right on time and he lingered with his goodbye, seeming hesitant to find his chair and join everyone else.  We hugged and kissed and he sat.  I stepped outside the doorway and talked to a friend for a few minutes, just long enough for Parker’s class to begin lining up to go for their playtime in the gym.

As soon as his little eyes met mine, he started to tear up and wring his hands the way he does when he’s trying to hold it together but having a hard time.  Red eyes, shaky lip, deep breaths.  I took his hand, told his teacher I would walk him down to the gym, and we sat in a chair in the hallway outside his class.  I pulled his long-legged self onto my lap and asked why he got upset.  I couldn’t make out much of what he was saying, something about him not wanting to get in line.  I don’t know.  He’d had preschool already that day, so he was a bit tired.  I held him for a few more minutes, enough time for his class to finish lining up (it’s a bunch of 3- and 4-year olds, these things take ages), and, rather than rushing him to the car and back to our cozy house where we don’t have to line up or cry (like I wanted to do), I gave him the chance to be brave.

“Do you want to go with your class to the gym?”

“Yeah.”  Such a small voice.  I just wanted to take him home.

“Oh look!  They’re pretending to be giraffes!  Go on, buddy!”  Off he went, finding his spot in line.

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“Walk tall like a giraffe,” his teacher, Tabitha, was saying.  All the kids had one arm raised high above them.  Parker raised his hand barely up to his shoulder and kept it there the whole time.  A baby giraffe, but still a giraffe.  He’s so brave, I thought.  I felt my own tears burning in my eyes so I picked up the car seat (and Oliver!), and hightailed it on out of there.  I actually creeped on him from a gym window to make sure he was ok, then I sat in the car and ugly cried.  This is why Andrew does the dropping off.

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These are some hard days, aren’t they?  It just feels like there’s a lot going on in the world, a lot to take in and process and filter — in the big world as a whole, and also in all of our millions of tiny worlds that make up the big one.  It feels scary.  It feels like too much.  It feels completely hopeless at times.  It’s hard to know what to do except pray.

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As I watched Parker make his way down the hall last night, hand barely raised, I had the thought — Yes, that’s what you do.  Stay in line with your people, and walk tall like a giraffe, or at least as tall as you can in that moment.  It sounds vague and ridiculous, but desperate times call for vague and ridiculous.

Keep doing what we’re doing.  Walk with each other through life’s crazy storms, one prayerful foot in front of the other, marching bravely onward.

A bit of a stretch metaphorically, but I’ll take it.

Happy Thursday.  Stay warm.

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