On the Playground: The Power of Encouragement

Sketch digging sand

“Hi, do you want to play with me?” She asks, watching Sketch play with the tractor in the sandbox.  She couldn’t have been more than four years old.

He continues to dig up sand and pour it into piles.

“Hi!, You forgot something! Your shoes!”  She points to them, still at the end of the slide, right where he left them.

Still no response.  She goes over to him and taps him on his shoulder. “Hello!  Do you want to play with me?”

At this point, not sure how Sketch would react to this, I walk over to him with Polkadot riding on my hip.

She climbs up the ladder to the slide.  Polkadot admires her, wishing she could play.

“Ah Dat?” She says, pointing at the little girl.

Sketch continues digging up sand.

“Look Sketch, this little girl wants to slide with you.”  He follows my point and looks up at her.

“See the double slide?  You can race with her just like you do at the Bounce Zone!  Do you want to slide with her?”

“Yes!” He says.

Yeah! He finally wants to play with another child!

He climbs up the stairs, slowly.  Very slowly.  Scripting all the way, his favorite show which takes place on a playset similar to this one.

He reaches the top, turns around and slides down the opposite slide, paying no attention at all to the little girl.

My heart aches her, poor things is trying so hard, so persistently encouraging my boy to play.

She isn’t put off though, she doesn’t give up trying to play with Sketch.

The girls mom comes and takes her back to the soccer game in the field next door.

Sketch continues playing by himself, happily talking and signing to himself.

I swing with Polkadot, and watch Sketch play by himself.

A couple minutes later, I hear footsteps of the little girl pitter-pattering heavily behind us, getting closer and closer.

“I SAW YOU” she yells to Sketch, “I was watching you!  Do you want to slide with me?”

I hold back laughter. This girl is not going to give up!  I wish I could take her home with me!  How good she would be for Sketch, on his case constantly!

I already have this girls future planned out; she’ll be a Special Ed Director at a good school, and she will never give up, even with the hardest kid to reach.  She has the gift of encouragement and she is not afraid to use it!

And neither should we.  We all need encouragers like this girl in our lives, and we all need to be that kind of encourager to others.

How great would it be if we didn’t give up, but persisted in spurring each other on?

If we were being built up by others every day, how much better would our days be? And what a gift to be able to encourage someone else!

I think we need more people to take after the example of this little girl.  More who say, “Hey! I was watching you!” and encourages us along in our journey.

Just today at church, someone did this very thing for me, and it made me want to finish this story that I’d started last week.

Encouragement is a powerful thing.

1 Thessalonians 5:8-11 “But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (Italics added)


  1. Debi said,

    August 12, 2012 at 7:05 PM

    Merri, I got to for the first time today hang out with Sketch. He is an amazing brillant little boy. I even got a hug! Thank you so much for being such an amazing role model as a mom. You inspire me.
    -Mrs. Matt

    • Merri Lewis said,

      August 12, 2012 at 9:56 PM

      Aww, thank you so much! We have been known to call him Romeo because his is a melt in your arms kind of kid, and he loves big squeeze hugs! I am so glad he shared his hugs with you :). It gives me big smiles!

  2. Cindy said,

    August 13, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    Dear Merri, I hope you were encouraged. Sketch did hear the little girl and will be processing her request, her persistence and her friendliness. Next time may just be the time he participates. BTW, I still have my prayer bracelet from Tuesday morning Bible Study. Praying for you and yours daily. ~ Cindy

    • Merri Lewis said,

      August 13, 2012 at 3:19 PM

      OH thank you Cindy!!! I hope we run into the little girl again. She lived near the park, so I’m guessing she goes there often 🙂

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