The universe is funny. Most days everything happens: small joys, small aches, small frustrations, and small mercies. There does not always feel like there is a purpose pulsing behind it all. Yet, once in a while, things make sense. Events suddenly resonate deep and in a way that makes you understand that there is something at work in the world. Every so often, in the small moments, it makes itself known to you.
I always find it in the most small, mundane events. Yesterday, was a good example.
Weeks ago we vacationed in Hershey, PA. At Hershey Park, everyone of Miss M’s siblings won a huge stuffed animal prize. I mean huge. Bears that were bigger than the six year old. Miss M was the only won who played and managed to not win. It was heartbreaking and tearful and just how the cards were dealt.
The resident ten year old happens to be attracted to claw games, and games of chance at any restaurant,fair, or kid thing we attend. She really loves stuffed animals and that tends to be the prize you win. It is problematic in terms of behavior for us as parents some days. She gets preoccupied with the idea of them and has a hard time moving on if she doesn’t get a shot to play. We try to teach her the discipline to manage it. That sometimes we play and sometimes we just don’t. When we do play and she loses, well,, sometimes she’s a good sport about it. Sometimes she’s just not. She chases the chance to play again. This time, this time she will win. Sometimes, someone breathes too loud and screwed up her chance to win, the machine wasn’t responsive enough, the claw’s timer let go way too early, etc. She can come up with creative excuses– although the heavy disappointment driving it all is really real. The fact her sisters all won these huge, amazing prizes was salt on a wound and she spent a while sobbing at the park. Yet, we couldn’t fix it. We did let her pick out a huge Hershey pillow from the gift shop so everyone had some monstonsity I felt disdain for to bring home. It helped, but it was not the same as winning and it didn’t fix the feelings. Sometimes it is like that, but at least she knew we cared enough to try, right?
Miss M has won her a share of carnival and claw game prizes. Her sisters don’t have the drive to play as much. Match happened to see an opportunity to win Bean a huge dog she had been enamored with and took it in a giant claw game. Dimples won by the fact were were fifty dollars into games between the four kids and the kid running the games was benevolent. We didn’t tell the kids. Match helped Blue Eyes and by luck alone landed a ring on a bottle. She was so happy and I think the fact her Dad won it for her made it kind of resonate a little deeper.
Somehow, tied into these games of chance, is the inkling that her winning or losing reflects her place in the world. That she must be less than worth, less good, less loved– because the universe bestowed these stuffed animals to her siblings, but not her. I get it, but their luck and success actually says nothing about her. That while she can feel however she wants to about it– she has to know and tell herself that other people’s success does not mean her failure. It just means that boat wasn’t meant for her. Not getting something and not understanding why at the time is a gift. It will makes sense one day.
Faith and grieving outcomes that never came to fruition is a hard thing for adults to process. So I wasn’t surprised when the ten year old didn’t buy it entirely. That whole concept of fairness being everyone getting exactly the same thing is just not entirely truthful. Equal opportunity, equal resources, equal options, equal chance– that is where I think fairness lies. Often, when you least expect it, life hands you something you need. That is what I think is inherit fairness. That there is enough for everyone, that the world listens, that there is something at work showing you wonder when you pay attention, and that disappointment, grief, pain are gifts too. LIfe is hard. I haven’t figured out exactly how providence bestows itself to each of us in the choices we make and how we’re built– but there’s something working there if you let it.
This past week, Miss M went to a free camp for kids in our county entering fifth grade. It is run through our District Attorney’s office in collaboration with local police forces in the area. Not a lot of info came home and the turn around for it was quicker than I usually process things at. It overlapped with the program she already had committed too and had her part of a robotics team. The whole thing was an easy no for me. Except my village told me the program was pretty awesome. So I worked it out and found even her robotics teacher was on board with the kids skipping to go. I relented and sent the stuff she needed in.
The program is run by actual school resource officers and other members of the local forces with some peer leader volunteers. They talk about bullying, drugs use, making healthy decisions, and some of the consequences of bad ones. It uts faces, voices, and names to the people in uniform. Now, Miss M, has had her fair share of police involvement in her life. We’ve had wellness checks, a brief stint I resolve in family court that would have had her with a DCF worker otherwise, police helping keep the peace when I’ve retrieved her from her visits and a load of pick up and drop offs at the local police stations in my home and my Ex husbands. She knows police have all sorts of jobs and one is helping parents who don’t get along behave. I felt better relenting to send her because I think she needed a better repore with police. We still have a good ten years ahead and I don’t know what role they’ll play in things as time passes.
They kds spent the week learning, but also having ridiculous fun. They had races wearing firefighter gear. They went bowling, the aquarium, and see a movie. They played dodgeball and had a sports day. M took a ball to the face and thought it was awesome. She’s a tough kid. Yesterday, the kids graduated the program. There were so many kids packed into this local auditorium. They introduced the officers and peer leaders, talked a little about the program, and recognized each camper.
At the close, they had a raffled off ten bikes. They rolled them out two by two in a really exciting way for the kids. Miss M won a brand new spanking mountain bike. One she actually needed since she outgrew her old one. Raffles as thing Miss M never wins. She’ll win contests here and there, she’ll earn a reward at school, she’ll excel in gymnastics or drama– but raffles she enver seems to win. This was a big deal.
And her local village who was there as fellow campers and their parents celebrated with her before we left. She beamed as we struggled to pack that thing into the back of the car for the drive home. It derailed my plans for the afternoon as she took it for a spin up and down the street on and off the rest of the day. She crashed it into a tree and learned an important lesson about gears and brakes and speed. (She’s fine! a bandaid and a bruise.) It is this really awesome, benevolent, chance thing that we had no idea would even happen. An actual extra awesome thing that she received on top of an awesome week with her friends and ridiculous fun.
Last night, before dinner, as we sat in the house I hadn’t cleaned enough, looking a the laundry pile that was taunting me to be folded and put away causing me insides to twitch a little, I said, “M.” She looked up from her iPad we were zoning out on. I said, “You know what I think about today. I think that the universe knew you didn’t need a huge bear or stuffed dog at Hershey. You didn’t need to win there… even though you thought you did. It knew you needed a bike.” It clicked. That things kind of lined up in a way we couldn’t anticipated. A bear and a bike, well, those are ultimately small and trivial and material things that don’t seem deep until you press through the surface. Except that it validated the fact that she wasn’t abandoned or cast out or unloved by the world… she just didn’t have all the pieces yet. She didn’t see how there was enough for everyone… that wasn’t her day was all. Yesterday was. Today will be someone else’s. And so on. And so on. And so on.
There is enough for everyone. You won’t get everything you think you want in life and it is the best in a lot of ways… you just don’t always see how it is working its magic until the pieces fall in line. So if today the doors seem all closed and your mired in the bitter part of sweet life, keep going. Grace and time just haven’t had enough time to work their salve into your life. Joy hasn’t had a chance to reveal itself in an unexpected moment. Keep going. It’ll find you when you aren’t looking.