Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Alone Among Many
Yesterday, I was questioning my parenting a little.
Was I a "bad mom" for missing my daughter's concert?
After picking up my son from his rehearsal last night, I knew I had made the right decision to stay home and be there for him.
He is a freshman this year, and has definitely moved into that moody, broody stage.
This was the boy who was glued to my side since the day he was born.
We were best buds all the way up until 7th grade or so, when he started to feel like it might not be so cool to be that attached to your mom.
It was heartbreaking for me.
This little boy was my whole world.
I adored my daughter as well...but she was definitely daddy's little girl.
It was kind of nice how each child was not only loved by both parents, but that they had a special connection with the parent of the opposite sex.
I think that played a big role in a couple things.
Lexie has always been very self confident....and surprisingly mature when it came to boys. (And she did NOT get that from me!!)
She would always comment on how ridiculous it was when kids would start "going out" without even getting to know each other first.
She once said "There is NO way I'd even consider dating someone unless I knew them really well, and really liked them as a friend first."
(Thank you God for wherever that logic came from!)
I am pretty sure it had a lot to do with the fact that her dad was ALWAYS around, and she never questioned whether or not she was loved or supported by him. She never felt the need to look for a boyfriend to fill the void of having a male figure in her life.
As for Sam, even as a toddler, he was sweet and affectionate.
He is a gentle soul. I'm guessing the fact that he was a total mama's boy probably encouraged that. When we were in Italy a few years ago, we took a ridiculously long walk to see some Catacombs. On the way back, we had to walk along this stretch of land that was very narrow, and right next to a very busy highway.
If you have ever been to Europe, you know that people there are CRAZY drivers.
And the streets are VERY narrow, with no shoulder.
So, if you were to step off the curb, you would become part of Italy's history....in the form of an addition to the cobblestone street.
Anyway, when we got to that section of land, Sam came up beside me (he stood on the outside, near the traffic) grabbed my hand, and moved any tree branch or weed out of my way as we walked.
The entire time, all I could think was "my little boy is protecting me.....could there be anything sweeter than this?"
Once we were back on a sidewalk, he just smiled at me, let go of my hand, and walked on as if nothing had happened.
I, on the other hand, tried not to start bawling in front of everyone.
Last night when I picked him up from show choir, we actually had a good conversation.
Lately, I've just been getting a lot of grunts and other typical teen boy one syllable responses to my questions.
This time, he actually used WORDS! Lots of them!
It was a MIRACLE!
Mark sent me a text, and asked if I wanted to come to the mall and have lunch with him. His high school band had played at the middle school for the kids there, and he took them to the food court afterward for lunch.
I arrived 20 minutes after they did, and asked how things were going.
He replied "Pretty good, but there is one boy who didn't bring any money, and he is refusing to let me buy him lunch."
(The boy was currently just hanging out alone by the restrooms.)
I decided to take the bull by the horns, and just bought him a meal from Rocky's.
I am sure it was totally awkward and embarrassing for him, because he had never met me before....and I then found out he didn't even like Rocky's pizza...but he did like the breadsticks.
We invited him to sit with us, and reluctantly, he did.
The first 10 minutes were awful.
He told me he was "perfectly fine with being hungry."
I told him that I was NOT fine with that.
We tried to make light conversation...and he was upset and obviously hungry, but too proud to start eating.
(He did eventually eat all the breadsticks.)
Then, he started to cry.
(And so did I, of course.)
This sweet, sweet boy.
What could I do to take all of his hurt away?
I asked if I could get him something....he replied "I'm not crying because of the food."
I knew that.
I am sure he was crying because here he was, a 17 year old kid....and he wasn't sitting at a table surrounded by friends.
He was sitting with his teacher and the teacher's wife.
When he rode the bus back to school....he would be sitting alone.
My guess is that most days when he went to the lunch room, he sat alone.
There is nothing that makes my heart hurt like seeing a kid alienated, and having to sit alone.
I wish no one would EVER have to experience that....would never have to know how it felt to feel like all eyes were on you, yet no one cared enough to join you.
How it feels to have to watch all of the people around you having fun, talking, being together....while you sit and wonder what is wrong with you....why no one wants to include you in anything.
Fortunately, we were eventually able to break through, and get him to smile.
I talked about Mark, and his ridiculous ice house and bike riding get-up.
(complete with pictures)
Then we talked about band camp...because that is ALWAYS good for a laugh!
We were throwing out ideas for next year's show....and then Mark said "I have always wanted to do a Civil War reenactment with live ammo. We could use lots of ketchup...and we could shoot cannons out of the tubas!!!
(This boy is a tuba player)
It would end with everyone pretending to be dead on the field...with a lone trumpeter playing Taps....and then we all break into the fight song....because we have to play that."
(The kid was REALLY smiling after that.)
I look at my kids, and see how easy it seems to be for them to fit in.
Neither of them are in a specific "group" which I am happy about....they just seem to get along with everyone, and have friends in the activities they are involved in.
You forget how blessed you are when things are easy for your children.
I can't imagine how hard it would be to have a child that didn't fit in.
A child that didn't have any friends.
That would break my heart.
That DOES break my heart....every time I see a child in that situation.
Often times, these kids come from homes that may not be your "typical" set-up.
It can be something as simple as being raised by parents who are just socially out of the norm. Kids learn by example.
Too often, these kids come from homes that are unstable, broken, in financial distress, abusive....or they don't even have a home.
And sometimes....there is no reason for it at all.
No matter what the situation....it is not the fault of the child.
For them to be singled out, ignored, teased, or just forgotten because of something completely out of their control is heartbreaking.
If I could have one super-power, it would be that all kids would have the same advantages. Loving homes, good food, quality education, exposure to the arts, sports, faith, strong support systems, everything it takes to give a child the tools he/she needs to succeed, while always feeling loved and cared for.
Wouldn't it be interesting to see how the world would change if EVERY child was given these opportunities?
I know I would want to live in that world.