After school unwind with my little man. He normally runs in with a bunch of boyish banter. But yesterday he went straight to his room without saying hello. Spells trouble. Color change? (It’s a Maryland thing). Reflection form? Lost glasses? What?? Nope. Nope. And nope. He was dealing with emotions and developing identity.
I did what Mom’s do. Started asking questions. Expecting to hear about recess basketball, the math quiz, the virtues of jazz band and the like. I was on high alert when his answers were despondent and distant. Five minutes of questioning and probing (which seems short, but honestly is not) and the reluctant answers began to flow.
It began in PE, because little girl classmate, we will call “Anna” has not yet mastered a spiral when throwing a football. She tried for half the class. The teacher was patient. Allowed her to keep trying. Ignoring everything around him, that doesn’t include him is his specialty, but something new came up. When several boys laughed and called Anna out of her name; when he saw that her feelings might be getting hurt, the boy we have been pouring into and trying to raise well showed up.
First he thought he could stop them. Just talk them out of it. No chance. He saw on a basic level the P’s of evil: Persuasive and Pervasive. It seeks its way into the fabric of people and moves on through the room and it’s really hard to trace the beginning or find the end. He tried to get them to stop. The teacher was not responding and he felt like he had to do something. It didn’t even dawn on him that his actions, standing up for someone else like that might at best create alienation, or at worst be dangerous; my child has been threatened before. But it didn’t matter to him, he said he was just angry about it. And he wanted to do something which he did…because when he couldn’t make a direct difference, his backdoor ruckus caused the teacher to take notice.
Don’t get me wrong, I love teachers. Educators rock. They stay in a difficult job that is extremely demanding and often bears a dividend so far down the line it’s not realized until years later. I imagine that can work against your positive energy. Especially when have a gym full of 5th graders. (Sigh)
Identity peaked when Ms. “Gym” saw what was happening; due to the ruckus.
“Everyone sit down! Who laughed at “Anna” and made fun of her?! Step up right now! We are not having any of that in my class!” (Silence and Levi tilting his head in the direction of his otherwise friends, trying to get them to be honest about it.) Not a chance.
This continued until the threats began. Ms. “Gym” announced that all balls would be taken if someone didn’t come forward. In other words, all would suffer for the few. That struck his compassion bone, the one I didn’t know was yet growing…he couldn’t take it anymore. He stood up and walked over to put his ball away. Now here in the story I really felt my patience wearing thin. Was this super cute and respectful kid telling me that he really was the one making fun and laughing at “Anna”? I would like to say that I hadn’t accused him of that…but alas, even those of us who wear crowns fall off the throne one or twice a day!
His answer was so simple. “No, mom. I didn’t want everyone to lose out. It wasn’t fair. So I thought if I said it was me, at least all of them would be able to keep playing. Seriously mom – I don’t like when things are not fair. Then she accused me of lying. And I had to admit that I was just trying to save the class. And then I got in trouble for lying! You can’t win!”
Again…my left eye of scrutiny didn’t want to buy this story. My truth and pride radar were in conflict. But in the end, being able to slow down with him, I realized that it was all true. There had been a collision of his emotions and who he wants to be in life. A problem solver, lover of justice and purveyor of good. The presentation needs work for sure…but pretty cool I think. The things you learn when you slow down and let your little people talk.
The ending? I asked the question that I sometimes forget to ask. What would make you feel better son? The answer was the best part of my week so far:
Remember when you used to help me sleep by rubbing my eyelashes. Will you do that right now?
Needless to say – we laid together on the couch for a while, whispering and giggling and relaxing, then I took these pictures. It was the most intimate of dates with my boy. We both left better than we came. And I think that’s pretty cool.
Go Forth and Parent in Positivity!
Chatone Morrison – 11/18/2016
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