We extend our thanks to Jill Emmert for serving as this week’s guest devotioneer … her first time writing for us. It won’t be her last, we hope.
Fifty-three first days of school. That’s how many we’ve had with our three sons so far, between pre-school, public school, and college. We’re coming up on fifty-four as our youngest gets ready to head off to his freshman year of college. And the vast majority of these first days of school started with a pep talk involving being kind to Gloobshnarf.
Gloobshnarf was a creation of my brilliant husband, who realized that one thing that might distract our firstborn three-year-old from worrying about being away from mommy was helping someone else. So he told him that when he got to pre-school, he needed to look for Gloobshnarf. You see Gloobshnarf, unlike Mason, didn’t know his ABCs, and he didn’t know how to be a good friend yet because the poor guy didn’t have a baby brother to help him learn that skill. Maybe Gloobshnarf didn’t even use the potty like a big boy! Maybe, we told him, that wouldn’t be his real name, but Mason’s job was to look out for whichever kid seemed like a Gloobshnarf and be kind to him. And it worked, more or less. He would come home and tell us about the kids he was able to “help”. I’m not sure they all appreciated his help, but it gave him a focus other than being scared. So every year, each boy was tasked with being nice to Gloobshnarf. Kindergarten is scary? Gloobshnarf didn’t even go to pre-school! New school for first grade? Gloobshnarf just moved here from another state! Poor Gloobshnarf had it pretty rough, but our boys were always on the lookout to give him a hand. It was kind of a twist on the Mister Rogers advice that when you are scared, you should “look for the helpers”. This was “look for someone to help”.
It’s been more than twenty years of looking out for Gloobshnarf. And, whether he needs it or not, Logan will probably get a Gloobshnarf pep talk when we drop him at Princeton at the end of this month, since Gloobsnarf probably doesn’t know his way around campus because he hasn’t visited multiple times with his alumnus dad. Maybe neither of Gloobshnarf’s parents went to college at all, so they don’t know about the extra-long sheets and how much you need a mattress topper on those beds. Maybe this is Gloobshnarf’s first trip to America, and his parents couldn’t even make the trip with him. Whatever his issue, we’ll be on the lookout for Gloobshnarf at orientation to see if we can lend a hand.
But now, without needing a reminder, I see my grown sons being kind to Gloobshnarf in so many ways. I’ve seen Ethan helping an immigrant family at the library find books that will help their child feel more comfortable going to school in America. I’ve seen Logan treat his young friend who has learning challenges like she’s the most important person in the room every time he sees her. And I’ve seen Mason go into the rooms of elderly residents at the nursing homes where he performs and treat them like they are his own grandparents. The boys don’t do it now because someone told them to. They do it because being kind to Gloobshnarf is the right thing to do AND it makes you feel good to do it. They care about immigrants and the elderly and people with special needs and they recognize that compared to their own lives, there are an awful lot of Gloobshnarfs.
Look out for them in your own daily life, please.
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ – (Matthew 25:40)