I work with 3- and 4-year-olds, and I volunteer each week with kindergartners and fourth graders. I can tell you from experience that preschoolers and kindergartners put a spring in your mental health step, but fourth graders make you work for it.
Take for example the delicate subject of my age. I am quickly approaching the big 4-0 (407 days left and counting). But working with preschoolers is the best combatant for my growing-old-blues.
On Friday during snack time, my sweet preschoolers asked, “Teacher Rachel, how old are you?” This was right before Owen asked, “Can you tie my shoe?” And right after Tristan had eaten a goldfish cracker off the floor.
“How old do you think I am?” They thought, “Hmmmm.” Then started yelling out the ages of the oldest people they knew. “Six!” one confidently guessed. “A little older than that,” I responded. “Seven?” guessed another. “Eight.”
Because they were getting a little discouraged by their wrong estimations, I hinted, “What’s the biggest number you can think of?” They all thought for a minute, paused, and then with beaming faces deferred to a representative with a higher grasp on numbers and mathematics, who yelled with finality, “TEN!”
As my cheerfulness soared the rest of the day, it only took a solitary fourth-grader to remind me of my true age. Later that afternoon, four of these bubble-bursting, reality-checking fourth grade girls gathered at our table to celebrate Karis’ birthday. Like most children, they were discussing birthdays and exact ages of who was older than whom, down to the exact month and day.
Karis, who is the one actually turning ten (today, in fact), has a friend who shares the same birthday, but is turning eleven instead of ten. “Wow,” I commented. “You are the old lady of the group!” She snapped her attention towards me in surprise and responded without a skip of the beat, “You’re the only old lady in this room.”
Pop. There went my fragile bubble of vitality. I went from being a strong, confident big kid that all my preschoolers adored, to the old lady in the room, barely able to hobble about. Definitely getting too old to understand numbers.
Which brings me to my last point before I close to spend time with my favorite fourth grader on her birthday. Whether you’re 10, or 39, or 10 going on 39, if you are alive and kickin’, then God still sees fit to use you on this earth. No matter if you are running the field like a ten-year-old, or hobbling about like an old lady. There is no better way to put a spring in your step, than to know that God has a purpose for your life.
So blow those balloons back up.
Cut a slice of cake for yourself.
And have a Happy Birthday!
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” ~ Romans 8:28