Kick Ball Kindness

By Debbonnaire Kovacs

Kenya Jayne Washington pushed on the small back of the first-grader. “Higher, higher!” Mercy squealed as she flew high into the sky.

Kenya laughed. “OK, here goes. You’d better hang on tight!” She pushed again, and Mercy shrieked with laughter, clutching the chains so tightly that her knuckles turned white.

“My turn!” Sam cried. The boy in the next swing pumped his legs and tried to go by himself, but was not very successful.

Kenya pushed him too.

“Hey, Kenya!”

Turning her head, Kenya saw Tina Warner, one of the twins who had recently come to the school, calling and motioning to her. “Come on! We need you for kickball!”

Kenya hesitated. She had promised Mercy and Sam she would play with them this recess. But she did love kickball. Mercy turned and looked anxiously at Kenya over her shoulder. “Next recess!” Kenya called back to Tina. “We’ll have a whole half hour after lunch!”

Later that morning, after she had finished her math, Kenya helped Miss Angelo by playing an alphabet game with the first-graders. Mercy leaned on one shoulder and Sam on the other. The third first-grader, Kimberly, wasn’t as clingy as Mercy and Sam, but she hovered close, and got almost all the letters right the first time. “You’re good at this,” Kenya told her.

“My mommy taught me my ABCs,” Kimberly said with a shy smile.

At lunch recess, Kenya played kickball with the older kids. She was having a lot of fun until she saw three sad little faces on the sidelines. “Time out!” she called and went to talk to Solly, who was pitching.

“Let’s let the little kids play,” Kenya suggested.

“Are you crazy? They can’t play!” Solly replied.

The other players came to get in on the conversation.

“Let the babies play? You’re kidding!” a sixth-grader named Ted exclaimed.

“That’s not nice, Ted. You didn’t like to be called a baby when you were in first grade, remember?” his friend, Steve, reminded him.

“How did you get to be the first-grade babysitter anyway?” Tina asked curiously.

“It kind of started the first day of school. Mercy cried and cried.”

“I remember! We could hear her in the upper-grade room.” Steve shuddered.

“I thought she would never stop screaming!” Ted agreed.

“You mean you’re the one who quieted her?” Steve asked. “Wow! Do you have a lot of little brothers and sisters?”

Kenya laughed. “No, I’m the youngest.” She gave Ted a look. “I’m usually the one who gets called ‘baby.’ ”

“So how did you know what to do?” Ted asked.

“I just kept remembering my first day of school.” Kenya looked around at the faces of her friends. “Don’t you remember?”

They shuffled their feet.

“Weren’t you scared?”

“Well, yes, but I didn’t bawl my head off!” Ted exclaimed.

“No, you just fought with everybody in sight!” Steve laughed.

“Anyway, I tried to act loving, and over time, well, now I guess I do love them. They’re great kids. So can they play, or not?” Kenya asked.

Solly turned and looked at the sad faces on the sidelines. “I guess they can. But we’ll have to help them a lot.”

“OK, but just this once! Don’t let them think they can always ruin our games!” Ted grumbled.

“Just this once,” Kenya agreed. “But they won’t ruin it. You’ll see.”

She went to tell Mercy, Sam, and Kimberly they could play. The change on their faces was amazing.

Mercy squealed and jumped up and down. “We can?”

Sam didn’t waste words, he just ran for home plate.

Kimberly hung back. “I don’t know how.”

“I’ll show you. It’s easy.” Tina took her hand.

“I have an idea,” Steve said. “Three of us can choose a partner. Sam, buddy, want to be my partner?”

Sam’s face lit up with a smile.

Kenya and Mercy were first up to the plate when the game began again. Mercy kicked the ball on the first try and screamed all the way as she and Kenya ran for first base. Everybody cheered.

Sam and Steve took three tries, but finally Sam kicked the ball all the way into left field, where Tina and Kimberly fell on it. “Throw it! Throw it to Solly!” Tina cried, and Kimberly threw it as hard as she could, making Solly run to catch it.

Miss Angelo called them in from recess much too soon.

“That was really cool!” Steve exclaimed, exchanging high-fives with Sam.

“Yeah, you guys are pretty good, for kids,” Ted agreed.

Solly elbowed Kenya as they went in the door. “Great idea,” he whispered.

Kenya smiled back. “Thanks.”

Related posts

A Hard Decision

“This family meeting is an especially important one,” Dad began. “I want to hear all your opinions. We’ve been studying the Bible with the Pattersons for almost three months now, and your mother and I are convinced that what we’ve been studying is the truth. Do you all agree?”

Read More

Seeing God’s Gifts

Michael Arthur Patterson leaned against the window, listening to the hiss and patter of raindrops. Usually he liked the sound of the rain, but it had been raining all week, and he was sick of it.

Read More