One day last week, I had to go to the school. When I got there, I happened upon Riley's recess. There she was, standing off to the side. A group of girls were in a huddle, 15 feet away from her. Riley's shoulders were slumped. Head down, she looked at the group out of the corner of her eye. They paid her no attention.
My heart sank.
No one was actively picking on her, but is this what she goes through every day? Isolation?
The next day, I arrived before recess, backed the mini-van into the parking lot and crawled into the back seat, confident the tinted windows would prevent anyone from seeing me.
Riley ran outside with her class. She walked around with one little girl for a bit. They found a jump rope and made a giant skip-it game. She stood in the middle holding the rope, spinning in circles. The other girls jumped as it made its way around to them. After a while she handed off the rope and did some jumping herself while someone else spun it, nice and slow.
After, she ran over to the swings. She was not fast enough to secure a swing whenever one opened up, but she didn't cry. After a little wait, another little girl held onto a swing for her until she could grab it. Higher, higher, she pumped her legs,hair flying, smile on her face. When the whistle blew, she slowed the swing down, transitioned into lining up, and went inside, no fuss, no muss.
Today was the second day of Operation Playground and Hot Toddy joined me. It's cold here and we shivered in the car, crouching down, trying to be inconspicuous. It was pretty much the same as day one. She was not left out. She was participating. She was having fun. Living her life.
What we see in any given moment is never the big picture.
I'm glad I didn't make a stink about the snapshot I saw last week.
It probably won't be our last secret mission. Next next time we're bringing hot chocolate and a blanket.