Four-year-old Rachael had attended our church-operated child-care center since she was 2. She was our little miracle girl. Born prematurely, with a complicated heart condition, she immediately underwent surgery. The surgery saved her life but also damaged the pace nerve in her heart, requiring the use of a pacemaker. Her two years with us were filled with illnesses, surgeries, medications, pacemaker replacement, and more.
Rachael’s medications caused her to be constantly thirsty and in need of liquids. Every day she brought several sippy cups to school and kept one in her hand much of the time. This seemed to work well.
Then one day the phone rang. Rachael’s mom was crying. I asked, “What’s wrong, Janet?”
“I didn’t send any sippy cups today because Rachael was upset,” Janet answered. “She said the big boys had laughed at her, saying she was a baby drinking from a sippy cup.”
“Who laughed at her?” I asked.
“Rachael wouldn’t tell me, because she said she didn’t want to get them in trouble,” said her mom.
I promised to find out what happened and convinced Janet to pack the cups for the next day. I asked the teachers to arrange a group meeting with the children (after sending Rachael to another room to do an activity with a staff member).
I reminded the group of how ill Rachael was, and how important fluids were to her. I also told them that Rachael didn’t have her sippy cups today because of her fear of being laughed at.
I soon knew who had been involved. In addition to relying on their tattling skills, I also knew I could rely on their tender hearts. With tears streaming down their little faces, they expressed how sad they felt because they had hurt Rachael.
The next morning Rachel appeared with her usual supply of sippy cups. She received lots of hugs from friends, but still appeared
anxious—that is, until Matthew arrived.
Four-year-old Matthew had just started “hanging” with the 5-year-old boys. The “big boys” decided that no girls of any age and no boys under age 5 would be accepted in their unofficial club. Amazingly enough, Matthew broke through the barriers and became the only 4-year-old accepted—a status he took seriously.
On this morning, Matthew’s mom rushed inside muttering, “I’m late. Matthew refused to leave the house without his old sippy cup filled with apple juice. He hasn’t used it for ages!”
Matthew followed closely behind, holding his cup high. The room became quiet as little bodies with big eyes turned to stare at Matthew and his cup.
Throughout the day Matthew carefully watched Rachael. Each time she reached for one of her drinks, Matthew reached for his sippy cup. Then he sat beside her with one arm draped protectively around her shoulder. He sipped his juice slowly so his ration would last through Rachael’s several-cup daily supply.
Matthew brought friendship to an all-new level. Never in my life had I risked my position, my reputation, and so much more in order to share someone else’s pain. God bless the Matthews in this world: there is a huge difference between “a friend” and “a sippy cup” friend.
—This article was adapted from Mae Watson’s “The Sippy Cup,” which appears on pages 36-37 of the August 2015 Adventist Review.
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