Lessons From a Child
“Asking is the beginning of receiving. Make sure you don’t go to the ocean with a teaspoon. At least take a bucket so the kids won’t laugh at you.”
As I entered the coin laundry in Atlanta one night, in March 2014, I heard a mother screaming profanities at her two little kids, a little girl and her younger brother. The girl looked to be about 7 years old, and the little boy looked like he was about 4 years old. The way that she talked to them was worse than the way some of the Korean men I’ve worked for yelled at me! You could see the panic and anxiety in their eyes as they would run back and forth with the laundry carts trying to help their mother. I looked at the clock thinking, “What are they doing up this late?” It was past 1am, and here they were getting cussed the hell out by their gangster mother who obviously didn’t appreciate anything they were doing for her. My heart hurt for these kids. I wanted so badly to do something to help, but I remember repeating over and over to myself, “I am not the fixer of things.” It took a lot of self-control not to go over to that lady and let her know what she’s doing to these kids will affect them for their entire lives. I wanted to scream at her, “STOP IT!”
They helped her fold all the clothes, the entire time being told how slow and stupid they are. I was folding my clothes on the other end of the building, but I could still hear her negative rants. I just kept repeating to myself, “Judge not, lest you be judged,” and “I am not the fixer of things.” What I really wanted to do is go over there and go Bruce Lee on her ass. Seriously. After folding all of my clothes I gathered my bags and headed for the door. I had to get away from that lady. It looked like she was outside putting her laundry in her car. As I was nearing the door, I saw the little girl and her brother looking at the vending machines. Just before I reached the door, I heard her say very softly, “I wish someone would give me a dollar.” I immediately dropped my bags, turned around and reached in my pocket. I had two bills, a dollar and a $10. I handed her the dollar she asked for, and she wouldn’t take it at first. So I told her and her brother, “I’m really proud of you two for coming out here and helping your mom like this. You both did a great job! You two are amazing, and I really want you to have this. Keep doing the best you can, and one day you’ll get to have everything you want.”
I reached out and put the dollar bill in her hand, and she just held it there in front of her chest – frozen. I smiled at her and her little brother. I had to leave because I could feel myself about to cry, and I didn’t want them to see that. As I got into my dad’s minivan, I watched as she still stood there frozen in place. I wondered what was going through her mind? Why won’t she put the dollar in her pocket or use it on the vending machine? Then her mother walks in and snatches it out of her hand. I almost got out of the car, but something told me that it was better to just let it go. As I drove away feeling frustrated, it hit me. I’m that little girl!! She taught me something that I needed to know about myself. I struggle with self-worth, and it’s hard for me to accept the love of others. I don’t feel deserving of good things, and it feels much more comfortable to be treated badly. She taught me to treat myself the way I would treat a child. Had she asked for the $10, I would have gladly given it to her. I would have told her, “You deserve so much more than this.”
The reason I share this story with you is because, surprisingly, I’m still that little girl. I’ve been asking for an opportunity to share my philosophy on dog grooming to large audiences. I told myself that if an opportunity comes my way, I’m going to take it no matter what! So I did. Now I’m here at K9 Lifeline because Heather Beck heard me say very softly, “I wish someone would give me a dollar,” and she turned around to help me. The past couple of days had a couple of chances to show her shadow students some things about grooming. Each time I felt my heart pounding and my breathing was out of control when I was in front of them. I couldn’t get my nerves under control for some reason. Heather probably felt what I felt when I gave the little girl the dollar she asked for and watched her just get it taken away from her. But that’s it, I’m done being the little girl. I am the Dog Groomer! I will not squander this opportunity that has been given to me, nor will I let it be taken from me.
The lessons the little girl taught me then are making a lot of sense to me now.
Lesson 1: Ask and it shall be given unto you. Lesson 2: Don’t ask unless you’re ready to accept.