All month long, I've been dealing with a group of preteen and teenage girls who spend a lot of their time talking back to me, giving me attitude, and going out of their way to do the opposite of what I ask them to do. So when I went into these past few days of the Christmas holiday sort of feeling like they were any other work days, I mistakenly assumed the kids would be acting that way too.
But that was dumb.
Friday was Christmas Eve, and about halfway through that night's special dinner, all our girls started to cry.
It started out with one, but when one preteen girl cries, they all begin to cry. So within about 20 minutes, we probably had about seven crying girls who didn't want to talk to us, didn't want to talk to their friends, and just didn't want to be there at all.
The truth is that my first thought was "Why are they all crying?! These girls don't cry. They talk back and bully each other and tell jokes and make fun of one another. Why the heck are they crying?"
And then my brain kicked in. Carrie, you dummy.
It's Christmas Eve. They're kids. This is supposed to be the most exciting day of the year for them -- wasn't it like that for us growing up? And they're here. They have families outside who they aren't allowed to see, or they don't have families at all, and all of their friends left them and went home to their own families this month -- and they're here.
The whole thing was sort of a smack in the face as to where I really was: sitting at a table with a bunch of kids who act so tough all year long, but on the biggest day of the year show you they aren't always so tough. They're just kids. And they're kids who, despite this gorgeous NPH campus and the incredible opportunities that come along with it, aren't blind to their reality. They understand exactly what life has handed them.
It was sort of sad to realize that on Christmas Eve in the middle of a fancy dinner. I won't deny that. But then it was sort of amazing to see that 30 minutes later, not one of them was crying anymore. They were all running around, releasing high-pitched little-girl screams, and picking on each other -- as usual.
They may not always be as tough as I think they are, but in the moments that would likely send you or I into a full-out week of woe-is-me depression, you gotta hand it to them. These kids are tough.