By Courtney Warren
I write about my daughter Berit often, but there is another little one in my life that is just as important.
When I was a senior in college at Delta State (DSU), I had the honor of meeting the Sappington family. I was hired to babysit their grandson Charlie for them every day from 8 a.m. until around 4:30 p.m. He was barely crawling when we met.
It was only a few months later that I realized I’d found my family. Being ten hours away from home was hard - and still is. While I talked to my dad every day, I found parents in Ms. Margie and Mr. Larry. Charlie quickly became my best friend. From dinners to spending the nights to playing in MeMaw’s yard, I was always welcome at their home and table.
Now, that little boy is not so little and stands tall at eleven years old, with a love for video games, pizza and social media.
When Charlie first began school, I knew life wouldn’t be the same, because my sidekick wouldn’t be with me every single day. This wasn’t an ordinary babysitting gig. We went everywhere together. I had a carseat, and we took off on adventures every single day. Ms. Margie let me go tour daycares and pre-schools with her; and, when she finally landed on Presbyterian Day School for his elementary education, she said, “Now, you know the sixth grade field trip is to Washington D.C., and you’re going to have to be the one to take him.” I’d laughed at her then, and said, of course, I’d take him!
Fast forward to 2022, and we leave for that trip in one week. I got married. I had a baby. I moved from Cleveland to Canton. I was still their family. Charlie and I went from everyday adventures to playing video games together on our phones and textings GIFs back and forth. He FaceTimed with me while I planted an entire dinosaur flower bed in the backyard one day.
Charlie is a friend. My very favorite friend.
I’ve had the blessing of seeing sweet Charlie grow into a very kind person over the last eleven years, and so many moments stand out.
One in particular happened as I picked him up from his house for Vacation Bible School. He walked outside and asked, “Can we go to Andy’s?” Andy’s is the convenience store right down from his house and across from the DSU Library.
I had that “no” on the tip of my tongue.
No, not today.
No, not this time.
No, we’ve got to go to VBS; aren’t you excited?
But I realized Charlie hadn’t finished his sentence.
“Can we go to Andy’s, so I can give money to the children with cancer?” I literally put my hand to my chest, because I was so taken aback at what he said.
Ms. Margie said, “He’s been going by every single day.”
With a fistful of change and a dollar bill from his grandfather, we were off. Normally, I’d expect to go in a store with a little kid and be asked to buy a dozen different snacks.
However, Charlie said he could handle it on his own, so I watched this sweet eight-year-old get out of the car, walk to the door and take the time to stop and speak to another little boy in a baseball uniform.
He held open the door for them, high fived the boy, then went inside.
It only took a moment.
He didn’t purchase anything with the money and gave it all to the charity cup that sits on the counter in the store before coming back to the car and asking that I play “You’re Welcome” by Dwayne Johnson from Moana, so we could sing loudly.
We jammed all the way to VBS, but I thought more about his heart and how kind his gesture was.
As I think back on how sweet that act of kindness was, and the many others he’s done in just eleven years of life, I’m absolutely inspired. I can’t wait to spend an entire week with him as we explore D.C. I’m so grateful to go. I’m grateful for their family. I’m grateful for the honor of being part of it.
I learned long ago that he was named Charlie because, “Charlie just sounds like someone that you would want to be your friend.”
I couldn’t think of truer words.