Cameron

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“Cameron”

“Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matt. 19:14

 

Back turned, Lindy Mitchell thumbed through preschool Sunday School papers and felt a little body whoosh mightily past her skirt. Who was that, going ninety miles an hour, inside the classroom?

Lindy could only gape as the collision happened, helpless to intervene. Cameron Goodwin, a first-time visitor at Beal Street Church, crashed headlong into little Anna Cheek, sending the smaller child to the floor with a resounding thud.

Tears filled Anna’s brown eyes, a howl started on her lips. Lindy sighed and shot a prayer upward:  Lord, could You help us out here?

Cameron, a larger-than-his-age munchkin with blond hair and cornflower blue eyes, never glanced back. Oblivious, he continued on his sortie, causing other children within his flight path to duck and begin protests of their own.

All the children had been loud and busy in Sunday School that morning. But their extra-active visitor had injected his own special dynamic into the mix, quickly creating an every-child-for-himself vibe that Lindy was finding hard to derail. Only minutes earlier, she’d ended a noisy fight between Cameron and Bobby over possession of a Tonka dump truck. As a concession, she’d handed over the airplane for Cameron to play with instead.

But first things first, she told herself.  Lindy grasped Cameron’s hand and led him to the sniffling Anna, now being comforted by Danielle Newcomb, a teen helper recruited to help in the Beal Street Church threes-and-fours.

“Cameron, did you know you pushed Anna down?”

A silent shake of the head.

“But you did. You ran into Anna when you went by with the airplane.” Lindy let that sink in. “She’s crying. Do you think she’s hurt?”

Face scrunched down into his chest, the boy nodded “yes.”

“What is it we say when we do something we don’t mean to, especially if someone gets hurt?” Lindy coaxed.

“Sorry,” he mumbled.

“I want you to say ‘I’m sorry, Anna.’ Look her in the eye when you say it.”

He did so. After Anna verbally forgave him, the boy quickly spun off to play where the cardboard building blocks were shelved, pulling several into the floor.

Lindy’s heart followed him. Lord, help me to understand Cameron—he’s one of Your children too. Show me how to make him feel truly welcome in our class.

Lindy stood up, looked to Danielle. “Danielle, would you mind taking the kids on a walk down the hall? Cameron will be my special helper and help me get our art project ready.”

Lindy clasped the boy’s hand in hers, after reassuring Anna once more that yes, she was truly all right, and the other children that a linked-hands foray down the hall with Danielle would be a great adventure.

Then she sat Cameron down at the low crafts table where they could be at eye level together.  The boy’s attention darted to the open door where the others had gone, his lower lip jutted out, his arms crossed.

Okay, Lord, anytime now, she breathed. Lindy slid a box with assorted art materials in front of the boy. “Cameron, before the other kids get back, would you pull out the stuff for our butterflies?”

Cameron relaxed a bit. “I can help, Teacher. Let me help.” Chubby hands dove into the box.

Lindy pointed. “Find the paper butterflies in the box. That’s right.” She held up seven fingers. “I need seven. Can you count to seven?”

“Sure, teacher. I can count that many.” As eager hands pulled out the supplies, he counted them aloud. “One, two, three. . .” until he had all seven pre-cut butterflies lying on the table.

“Great, Cameron,” she said, meaning it. “Now, can you help me with glue sticks? I need—” she held up seven fingers again, “guess how many?”

“Seven!” he said with enthusiasm and started to gather them.

Smart boy, Lindy assessed. She watched a wrinkle of concentration crease his forehead as he counted aloud. The child was bigger than normal for his age, no doubt about it. And perhaps there were no older brothers or sisters at home for him to play with—home socialization sometimes made all the difference in a child’s interaction with others. Note to self: Chat with Cameron’s mom, Rachel, and get to know the Goodwin family better.

Lindy poked her head into the hall. No kids. Lindy came back to the table and held up a pair of the bright yellow butterfly wings.

“Okay, buddy, wanna help me make a butterfly? That way you can show all the other kids how to do it.”

He nodded. The cherubic face shone. “I like flutter-by’s,” he said. “They’re pretty.”

“I do, too,” she said, ruffling his silky hair.

She showed him how to select glittery snippets of colored paper from a plastic baggie and then glue them down in a pattern onto the yellow wings of the butterfly. “You work on that, okay? I’ll finish the antennae that go on the butterfly heads,” Lindy said, grabbing a package of colored pipe cleaners.

Cameron’s forehead creased as before. Clumsy fingers tried their best to pick up edges of the small pieces of paper, but with no success. To his credit, the child kept on trying. His fine motor skills weren’t on par with his verbal and counting abilities, but that wasn’t too unusual for a four-year-old.

And there was her answer, right in front of her—Cameron’s body was simply growing too fast for him to have good control over it!

“Here, Cameron,” she said, uncapping a glue stick. “I’ve got an easy way of doing it.” She turned the glue sticky-end-down and nabbed a piece off the table. She held it up to show him, then eased it onto the butterfly’s wing with her finger. “See, it’s easy when you know how.”

“I can do that!” he yelled, and proceeded to stab a small snippet. He used his pointer finger to rearrange the bit down onto the butterfly. A big smile crossed his face. “I did it, Teacher. I did it!”

“Yes, you did,” Lindy said, smiling herself. “Good job, bud.”

Tilting his blond head, he asked, “What’s your name, Teacher? I forgot.”

“My name is Ms. Lindy.”

“Miz Lindy. Miz Lindy. Miz Lindy,” he repeated and stabbed piece after piece of colored paper.

After church, when Rachel Goodwin came to pick up her son, Cameron proudly showed her his butterfly with the mosaic wings. “Me and—“ he stopped to glance at Lindy, “Miz Lindy got the glue sticks out of the box, and I glued these here pieces of paper to the flutter-by. And that’s how we did it, Mommy.”

“He helped the other children make theirs, too,” Lindy added, touching his shoulder. “Cameron’s a great assistant.”

“It’s very pretty, Cam,” his mom said, taking his things. Another parent slipped in. “Let’s go, honey,” she said, “so Ms. Lindy can let the other children go home with their mommies and daddies.”

They had only taken a few steps when Cameron turned, flew back to Lindy, flung his arms around her skirt. He squeezed tight a moment, then ran back to his mom’s outstretched hand. “Bye, Miz Lindy. See you later.” His crinkled blue-eyed grin, framed by the doorway, exactly mirrored his mother’s own. Thank you, Rachel mouthed to Lindy before they disappeared.

No, thank You, Lord, Lindy telegraphed heavenward, as she turned to greet the others.