When I was in grade school I was teased mercilessly. I remember, shortly after having moved to a new school in the 5th grade, crying in bed at night and having to confess to my mom that I just didn’t have any friends. What a terrible feeling of isolation at such a young age. It was the 80’s and I had bad hair, thick glasses, and clothes with the wrong labels. Or none at all. I was new, I wasn’t cute, and everyone made sure I knew it.
So today I was outside fiddling with a car we have parked in the road, and I heard my son coming home before I saw him. He had ridden down the street to play with a friend and I wasn’t expecting him home for another 45 minutes. As soon as I heard the crying, I knew it was J. Head down, hand wiping away tears, I could only see his red helmet gleaming in the sun and my heart turned over. What could it be? What happened? Of course my mind was racing with all sorts of horrible options.
After J calmed down, hiccuping and swallowing his sorrow, he explained that the friend he was playing with saw his older buddies down the street. The older buddies asked J’s friend to play, and off he went. When J asked his friend, “Hey–where are you going??” The friend said, “I’m going to play with them,” walked in their home, and shut the door in my son’s face.
Awwww. POOR BABY!
A moment of silence, please.
I could completely understand J’s feelings and heartbreak in that moment. It’s been a few years, but I can still remember the sting of rejection–the stab of betrayal. Recently I heard a statistic that said that in their school careers, 100% of kids will be the recipient of name-calling or unkind words. I suppose that shouldn’t surprise me, but now that one of those 100% has a face–and a face that I love–the story changes.
I want to hold him, or possibly keep him home.
Wrap him in a cocoon, swaddle him in a blanket, secure him in my nest.
Is it too late to home-school??
My husband pointed out, as we discussed the incident, that if I wasn’t so tormented as a kid myself, I may not be the compassionate person I am today. [Did I mention that my husband was one of my chief bullies in 5th and 6th grade?? Maybe he’s trying to take credit for my compassion…]
So tonight at bedtime we spent a long time talking about friendships with the kids. We’re not instantly going to write off the boy down the street because of one poor choice, but we did decide that this year, our one big family prayer is that the Lord will help our children to:
1. Choose their friends wisely
2. That God would give them at least one good friend
3. That God would give them the courage to walk away from bad situations, even if they’re with “good” friends.
We’re also focusing on one of my favorite verses for instructing about friends: “Bad company corrupts good character,” I Cor 15:33. Our kids know that one inside-and-out. Now let’s just pray that the Holy Spirit reminds them of these words in those moments of confusion, betrayal, and sadness. And moms out there–let’s help each other by talking to our kids about treating one another kindly.
Do you have a tip to share? Please leave a comment and encourage each other!