Friendship in Hard Times

I believe that personal suffering can bring out the best in a true friendship. In facing difficult circumstances, my closest and dearest friends have shown their love and care for me, as well as my family, in profound ways.

One of the most touching examples of this is found in the events surrounding our second child’s birth. Since both sets of grandparents live across the country, we had close friends from church who were “on call” to take our oldest daughter whenever I went into labor with the second. In an unexpected turn of events, during an appointment to check the baby because I was 11 days overdue, my midwife came into the examining room and said that I was to report to the Labor and Delivery floor immediately. She had reviewed the results from the ultrasound completed a few days prior (standard procedure in their practice with an overdue baby) and discovered that the levels of amniotic fluid were dangerously low. They were planning to induce me within an hour if my contractions didn’t begin to pick up.

Thankfully, the contractions did pick up. And approximately four hours after arriving at the Nurse’s Station and signing forms, our second precious baby girl was born.

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Love at first sight.

And then came the post-labor hemorrhage at 9 PM. The single most frightening event I have experienced in my life. Hearing nurses call for the crash cart, doctor and midwife paged to my room, nearly ten people surrounding my bed as my husband cradled our newborn in the corner and watched and prayed.

Once I was stable, we found out that we had a slightly longer stay in the hospital because of additional monitoring of my health. Our friends gladly took care of our eldest daughter a little while longer, with my husband going back and forth to spend time with her.

And once we arrived home, it was only 48 hours before the varicose vein that had bothered me so much during the pregnancy became hard and swollen, painfully red and warm to the touch. I went to the Emergency Room and was admitted overnight.

My 5-day old baby girl couldn’t stay with me.

I was hormonal and scared to be alone in a hospital room by myself, longing to take care of my sweet little girls but unable to.

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Best friends from the start.

Again, friends happily stepped in to help. One couple gladly took our eldest for a “sleepover” while another brought my husband formula and taught him how to make bottles and feed our infant (we had only breastfed our first child and he didn’t know how to use formula). That same friend later came to the hospital late that evening and stayed with me, bringing me a cell phone charger and my Bible, helping me to pump and dump breastmilk while my arms were hooked up to an IV for round after round of liquid antibiotics to fight the blood clots that had formed in the varicose vein in my leg. The following day more friends came with cookies, hugs, a card game and lots and lots of love.

And once I was released from the hospital again, friends brought us meals, gave gifts to both our children, prayed for us, sent us emails and cards. Friends took me to the pharmacy to get my prescription injections and blood thinners to help dissolve the remaining clots in my leg and prevent them from spreading to my lungs or brain. They helped take care of our children when I needed to go to regular follow-ups with my physician and even offered to take my eldest for a couple hours at a time so I could get some rest.

Our friends showed us the love of Christ during one of the most difficult times in our family’s life, when I was physically weak and but emotionally sustained by the care and support we received.

It is the power of that kind of friendship that I think of as I read Dean Roberts’ book Two Friends aloud to my children. The kind of friendship that builds others up – in this case, Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglas – to be all they can be, to achieve their dreams and highest potential, to influence the world in marvelous and breathtaking ways.

As we read to our children and model our lives in front of them, let us hold true friendship in the highest esteem and encourage them to be good friends with one another.

Best Ages: kindergarten – 2nd grade

For Parents:

  • Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglas regularly met for tea to encourage one another in their work for women’s rights and African American rights. Host a tea party and invite your child’s friends to come and bring a snack to share.
  • Check out this great article on explaining rights to children and share with your child in an age-appropriate manner what rights are.
  • Ask your child how they can show kindness to their friends. Share how friends have shared kindness with you.

For Teachers:

  • Prior to reading, explain what rights are. Refer to this great article for children.
  • After reading, give each student a printable tea cup. Ask them to write one way they can show kindness to a friend and allow them to decorate their tea cups. Ask for students to share what they wrote on their tea cups and then hang them up in your classroom as a reminder to be good friends like Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglas were.
  • Show students photos from the Susan B. Anthony house and the virtual tour of the Frederick Douglas museum.

 

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MLK Jr.

At our library’s annual book sale a couple weeks ago, this copy of My First Biography: Martin Luther King, Jr. by Marion Dane Bauer caught my eye. Finding age-appropriate and engaging non-fiction for young children can be a challenge. I was delighted to discover that this book gives an excellent explanation of the civil rights movement, the life of Dr. King and the result of his work and countless others who tirelessly fought alongside him for the rights of all people in our country.

This book is a great introduction to non-fiction for young children and early readers while providing exposure to the realities that people of color faced, such as separate schools and restaurants. Though the topic may be challenging or uncomfortable for some teachers and parents, I find it important to address the history of racial disparity with our children in a straightforward and simple manner as demonstrated in My First Biography: Martin Luther King, Jr. Although current events and politics in our country have shown that racial tensions are not a thing of the past, this gem of a book reminds me to be thankful that many people are carrying on Dr. King’s legacy.  And the life and work of people like Martin Luther King, Jr. has impacted my family’s life in a personally significant way: my husband and I are a biracial, bicultural couple who would not have been able to legally drink from the same water fountain a century ago, much less be married and raise our beautiful kids. How wonderful to share with our children the incredible contributions of public servants such as Dr. King who inspires us to continue the work of improving race relations and valuing and upholding the inherent dignity of all people.

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Stopping to eat a snack and play at the park during our family bike ride last Sunday.

Best Age: prek – 2nd grade

For Parents:

  • After reading My First Biography: Martin Luther King, Jr., ask your child: What did his mom always tell him? Did Dr. King believe his mom? (Note: this is a powerful reminder to parents of the influence our words can have on our children.)
  • Remind your child of the importance to show respect and kindness to everyone, even if they look different or act different from us. What are ways that your child shows kindness and respect to others at school, the park, the library, etc.?

For Teachers:

  • Create a T-chart with a column for Before and a column for After. Ask students what life was like for Dr. King before he told people they were “just as good as anybody.” And what was life like after people believed his message and the laws changed?
  • Remind your students of the importance to show respect and kindness to everyone, even if they look different or act different from us. What are ways that your class shows respect toward each other? Toward people outside the class/school?
  • Show a clip of the most well-known except of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech (I recommend stopping at 1:47). What was their reaction? Ask them why people were clapping and cheering when Dr. King spoke.