My son and my daughter are three years apart. At ten and thirteen, they are something rare—best friends—but they couldn’t be more different.
Thalia has always been the outgoing of the two. With her big, beautiful smile and sunny disposition, she could make a friend of anyone. She certainly tried as she talked to imaginary friends, strangers in the grocery store, and even bugs on the ground outside. Thalia has always been overflowing with energy and creativity. From the age of three, she has been fascinated with music and dancing. “Watch this, Mommy! Watch this,” she would call out as she strung her movements together to create intricate dance routines; and once she got started, nothing could make her stop. At four years old, she attended a wedding with my in-laws and danced for three hours straight. Video footage showed her in the middle of a circle of smiling adults leading them in how to do her dance moves.
At seven years old, Thalia choreographed her own piece to audition for the children’s dance ministry under the BridgeKids Creative Arts program. Under that leader’s instruction, I watched a little girl with a love of music and dance blossom into a young lady who danced with a different intention with her own relationship with the Lord. Instead of seeking my attention and approval, Thalia began to use her gifts and talents to dance as an instrument of praise. I watched as others were moved by the grace and beauty she dances with. More than that, though, I was blessed to see my daughter take the things she learned about the Lord in dance rehearsal and bring them home to ask her father and me about the deeper meaning that could be found in the Word of God.
While my daughter is a classic extrovert, my son Warrick demonstrated introverted tendencies almost from birth. I used to joke with my husband that, as a baby, Warrick really wasn’t interested in me (or anyone else for that matter). The things that soothed Thalia—singing, snuggling, and being in my company—seemed only to irritate baby Warrick. He seemed happiest when quietly left to himself. It wasn’t until elementary school that I began to have concerns.
In kindergarten, Warrick struggled to make friends. When I picked him up at the end of the school day, I would find him playing with the aftercare teachers, not students his own age. When asked about it, he told me that his sister was his best friend so why did he need to bother making other friends. When pressed further, he told me that he didn’t know how to make friends and wasn’t comfortable trying. The little boy who screamed with laughter while running through the house with his sister withdrew into himself in social situations apart from her, opting instead to play only with adults or in solitary games apart from others.
It was around this time that Warrick woke me in the middle of the night. I thought he’d had a nightmare and prepared to soothe him, but he calmly explained to me that he’d been thinking about what he learned in BridgeKids. He told me that he wanted to know what he had to do so that he could get to be with Jesus forever. I had the honor of walking my son through accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior.
After that night, I would love to tell you that my son experienced a miraculous turnaround, but no, he still struggled socially. It took another year before we found something that clicked into place for him—music.
By the first grade, Warrick was old enough to join the BridgeKids Choir. At that time, I was new in my position as the Creative Arts Coordinator and he just wanted to be wherever I was, even if that place was my job.
I noticed that in the choir, Warrick felt free to show his true personality. Instead of removing himself and hanging back, he shared his opinion, laughing and talking more and gaining confidence from singing in front of others.
Warrick has since moved on from the choir. Instead, he serves on the BridgeKids Worship and Tech teams. The worship team members lovingly call him The General because he takes rehearsal very seriously.
Two kids, two friends, two distinct personalities, two unifying factors: the hand of God on their lives and the BridgeKids Creative Arts program.
You can find more information about BridgeKids here.