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The little hula hooper

Family Day 2012 brought me two assignments — ring toss and children’s golf.

To win at ring toss, one had to toss a Frisbee over a liter bottle of pop. Just an observation, boys took this way more seriously than girls. Hardly anyone managed to ring the bottle; but many boys took it personally.

We had one fellow, probably 8- or 9-years-old, come back 11 times until he finally won! His prize? The Frisbee — not a $10 dollar bill or anything valuable.

Obviously, his real prize was successfully accomplishing a goal he had set for himself. My prize was seeing his dazzling smile when the Frisbee landed.

Even though ring toss offered a study in human behaviors around “winning,” my favorite event of the day happened while I was helping with the golf.

The drill: a child would choose a plastic golf club, and we walked her or him over to one of three hula hoops on the lawn. We dropped three golf balls down in the grass and explained that s/he had three chances to putt the ball into the hoop. The distance of the balls from the hoop was determined very scientifically — by the size and age of the golfer.

Our pint-sized golfers displayed an amazing variety of grips on the club, swings and responses to missed shots. Some tried a one-handed approach; others used the club more like a croquet mallet. And, yes,
some just picked up the ball and dropped it into the hula hoop. (We adult helpers were rather lax in insisting on the “rules.”)

My absolute favorite of the day, however, was one little girl, maybe 3- or 4-years-old. She very seriously chose her club based on its color. She listened – again very seriously – to my directions. I stepped aside and, holding her club, she very seriously studied the three balls on the ground and looked over to the hula hoop.

This photo shows my favorite moment of the Sisters of Providence Family Day 2012. This little hula hooper made me laugh.

With that, she very carefully placed the club on the ground, She walked over to the hoop and stepped inside of it. To my delight, she then “hula hooped.”

Smiling and laughing, she tried to hula fast enough to make that hoop stay around her waist — to no avail. So she tried again and again — “laughing all the way.” All watching laughed with her!

Needless to say, she won a prize — for delighting herself and all of us who watched.

I went to bed that night smiling just thinking about her; I woke up the next morning and she was still on my mind and making me smile.

I hope I remember her approach the next time I’m confronted with a task or a challenge. I hope I find in that task or challenge that which delights me, makes me laugh, lifts my spirit and the spirit of others around me.

Thank you, Little Hula Hooper, for your life lesson — for your laughter.

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Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise was the general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods from 2006-2016. She previously served as a high school teacher, college administrator, postulant/novice director and director of advancement and communications for the Congregation. Currently, Sister Denise serves the Congregation in various volunteer positions.

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