Let Them be Little
I sometimes forget that the girls at the Hope House are still little girls. Although many of them are teenagers and will soon be ready to launch out into the world as young women, they are still so tender hearted and child-like in many ways. I was recently reminded of this on one of my overnight shifts.
Normally the girls are dancing around the living room, talking with the other girls, or doing their homework. However, on this particular night, none of the usual was happening. Instead, there were girls sprawled out on the floor with as many Jenga sets as they could find in the house. They were building houses, towers, domino paths, and more. They begged for more sets. There happened to be two more in a staff closet, and they squealed with joy when I brought them out. More paths were made, more towers were built, and like every child they took immense delight in knocking them over and watching the pieces dash around the tile floor.
There were other girls huddled in a big circle on the floor of one of the bedrooms. They were all in their pajamas playing what I can only describe as the most silly and raucous game of UNO that I have ever seen. Every few minutes I would hear wild laughter and yelps of joy roaring from the room and smile to myself at the child-like happiness they were experiencing.
That wasn’t all. Other girls were sitting together sewing pillow cases. They love to sew designs onto them by hand and show off their beautiful creations, but I was amazed as I looked at what they had chosen to put on them. One girl was sewing Minnie Mouse on a pillow case. Another was sewing the mermaid Ariel onto a pillow. I wondered about how they even know about Disney characters here in the jungle, but it was amazing to see their interest in them. I sometimes forget that princesses, mermaids, and cartoons are literally made for girls their age, and in that moment found myself remembering that so many of these young ladies are in fact, little girls.
Another girl read her Bible to some of the other girls. I happened to walk by as she exclaimed to the other girls, “la Biblia dice que con Dios un dia es como mil años!” ("The Bible says that with God a day is like a thousand years!" I am paraphrasing) She was reading 2 Peter 3:8, and the girls were all amazed at this verse. They truly approached it with childlike faith and seemed astounded by it.
Finally, many of the girls were asleep. They had gone to bed early, way before bedtime. It was Friday. They had been in school all week, done homework all week, and had played with friends all week. Their little bodies were done, and they slept through every bit of noise and fun and goofiness of the others who were still bursting with energy. Some even fell asleep on top of or next to books.
As I reflected on the night, I kept thinking about the old country song, “Let Them Be Little.” I thought about the lyrics of the chorus over and over as it played in my mind.
"Let them be little 'cause they're only that way for a while
Give them hope, give them praise, give them love every day
Let them cry, let them giggle, let them sleep in the middle
Oh, just let them be little”
That night, as I listened to the noise erupting from the UNO game, walked by Jenga pieces all over the floor, and smiled at the princess pillows, I was glad they are still little, if only for awhile.