A little girl, 11 years old, came into the dining room for breakfast one day last week. She had tears running down her cheeks, and her face was red. Christy, a phenomenal cook with a kind spirit, saw one of our Ranch employees trying to comfort her while making sure the other kids got their breakfast.
Christy asked, “What’s wrong, friend?”
“I look dumb, and this shirt is dumb, and I’m short, and I look fat,” she sputtered between sobs.
It was “Bee Kind” Day at the Ranch. For the last four years, the Ranch has used the national “Stop Bullying Day,” as an opportunity for a month-long focus and discussion on bullying prevention. On Bee Kind Day (this year it was Oct. 11), everyone wears a t-shirt that says “Bee Kind—Everyone Has a Story.” And I mean everyone. Staff, kids, teachers, retail staff, board members—the whole kit and kaboodle wear their Bee Kind shirts.
This year, we ordered a little longer shirts, which most of us appreciated… except this little girl. She had the right size, but because she is small in stature, she was swimming in the shirt. All the horrid things she had been told by her abusers came through in her tears and words… she is dumb, short, fat, etc.
Christy walked over to her and said, “Because I work in the kitchen, I can’t have my shirt long either. Do you ever see girls with shirts tied at their hips?”
The little girl paused, thought, and nodded yes. “I’m going to wear mine like this today,” Christy said as she reached to her side and made a knot in her shirt. “Do you think that would work for you?”
Again, a nod.
Christy bent down, tied the girl’s shirt in a knot at her hip, and said again, “I’m going to wear mine like this all day. Will that work for you, too?”
A third nod and a half smile.
Then the little girl said, “Can I have breakfast now?” and she went about her day.
A simple knot, but what a gift. No one looked at this girl and told her she was blowing it all out of proportion, that it was just a shirt, that she shouldn't get so worked up, or to quit being a drama queen.
Instead, Christy saw a traumatized child in distress, unable to problem-solve. She listened and helped that child find a solution.
Next time, this little girl will find the solution on her own.
I am so grateful to work with the good people of Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch—people like Christy. Please keep our children and staff in your prayers.
In His love,
Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
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