by Jennifer Duncan
My husband and I started a tradition with our four granddaughters that I am trying to continue today. Back when their ages ranged from three to seven, we started having “Cousins Camp” in the summer. It was our chance to get the girls away from their parents, and do everything fun that we could think of! We wanted to win their hearts, with non-stop energy-depleting activity. But, most of all, it was our opportunity to really relate to them and observe their unique personalities.
We also learned a lot about how girls respond. Since we only had two boys, we didn’t know much about the emotional unpredictability of little girls. We didn’t know that girls can be prone to hurt feelings, and unexplainable moments of sadness. We didn’t know that their moods could flip from bursts of giggling to bursts of tears, without warning. We learned quickly.
One day we were headed out on one of our fun outings, and had successfully managed to get everyone fed, dressed, and hair “fixed.” (We never had to “fix” our boys’ hair, and I wasn’t very skillful or fast at that!) Everyone piled into the van, settled on who would sit where, and after we heard the click of six seat belts, Granddad took off across the parking lot. Suddenly, a low hum from the middle seat exploded into a wail of sobbing. Kate was crying as if her heart would break…with no warning at all!
My husband skidded to a stop and called out, “What! WHAT! What happened?!”
Kate struggled to explain her agony. “My doll! My doll! I didn’t have time to buckle my doll into her seatbelt!”
Crazy girl drama? No…definitely not. What we saw was sensitivity….a nurturing heart…love. In that one funny moment, we saw the first indications of the precious caring that characterizes this child. She’s going to be a great mom someday, and I guarantee her babies will always be kept safe. She’ll be a great friend, a conscientious employee, a valuable servant of God, because the most basic of biblical values…kindness…is innate in her. We saw it that day, even as we puzzled over the value she placed on a doll.
That was many years ago, and now we’ve been through several Cousins’ Camps, as my granddaughters enter the teen years. But I see in them the same unique personalities they displayed when they were very small. The last Cousins’ Camp we enjoyed with Granddad occurred just two weeks before his sudden death. And at that time, it was Kate who wrote a sweet and funny poem about him…the same kind and caring Kate, who showed such concern over the safety of her doll.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another….”Ephesians 4:32
Jennifer is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is mom to two grown (twin) sons, two wonderful daughters-in-law and four granddaughters. Her late husband, John, pastored two churches in Barry County, Missouri, and one in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Jennifer serves in teaching, music and lay counseling through her church, Arnhart Baptist Church, Purdy, Missouri. She also enjoys leading retreats and Bible studies for women.