Our town had an end of summer bash today where Rowan threw some darts at balloons and for popping a red one in the left corner received a calculator. He tossed some rings over a stack of bottles and furrowed his brows in frustration when he couldn’t get those pesky things to land where he wanted them to. He ate a snowcone, saw some cool cars, learned about being prepared in an emergency, had his first taste of cotton candy, built a sandcastle, and was pushed around by a bully.
My little boy who had worked for a half hour on his castle and was sure he was going to win the contest, was hurt. His bottom lip quivered, as he picked himself up and brushed off his knees. The mama bear in me utilized every ounce of self control as the kid then threatened to punch me for having the audacity to stand between him and my son. I looked that kid right in the eyes and VERY sternly said, “Don’t you dare put your hands on me.” He spit a few choice words at me, threw a fistful of sand in my face, kicked over Rowan’s last remaining castle wall for good measure and slunk off. A very kind little boy who was working nearby offered to help Rowan rebuild his fortress, and they worked together for a while, chatting about drawbridges, moats, and men on horses with hatchets and spears. All too soon the big kid was back, this time with a chip on his shoulder. I tried my best to stand between their creation, and the kid who was trying to invade it.
Right as I was commenting on how I would get lost in their maze of tunnels and pathways, a hand reached around my leg and slammed down on their main entrance. Another hand wiped away the north side of their castle, and a knee obliterated the mountain the castle was protecting. The two boys started to protest, but were met with a very angry growl and some mean and hateful words harnessed with threats of violence. Mercifully it started to pour, and their tormentor ran for cover. Someone nearby handed the boys an umbrella, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the walls from crumbling and the tunnels from caving in. I told the two little builders that I’d stay if they wanted to wait for the rain to pass and try once again to rebuild. Rowan’s new buddy opted to stay, but Rowan expressed some apprehension about the bully returning. Defeated, we walked home in the rain, his sandy hand cupped in mine.
I HATE this part of parenting. HATE, LOATHE, and DESPISE it. No matter what I do, I can’t stop the world from hurting my boy. *sigh* The urge to shelter and defend my child was coupled with harsh reality of teaching him how to peacefully stand up for himself. I was unsuccessful at locating an adult that had accompanied the big kid to the event, so I knew that simply walking away was the right thing to do. I encouraged Rowan to try again, but didn’t argue when he wanted to go home.
I’m harboring such mixed feelings of anger and sadness towards that boy. For such a young kid to be so angry at the world, there’s got to be a reason. Yeah, the whole thing upset me and ticked me off, but a part of me wants to scoop that kid up, hold him in my arms, and just tell him he’s loved. That it WILL be okay. HE will be okay…I can’t do that though, and I can’t fix the world. I can’t stop the hurt and the hate. The only thing I can do is teach my little boy that actions have consequences-both good and bad. I can help him understand that words are powerful. That they’re so powerful in fact, that they can change lives. I can show him that a little kindness and love, even when you feel it’s the last thing someone deserves, is EXACTLY what they need. The next time we see that kid around town, he’ll be getting an invitation to play. He’ll be offered some kind words, a dish of ice cream, and the promise that if he ever needs a friend, he’ll know where to find one. I may not be able to save Rowan from all the bullies in the world, but I can help keep him from becoming one.