Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Nothing Personal

There are some things in life that I wish I could spare my kids from experiencing. One of the biggest is loneliness.

Everyone feels it at some point. The sadness of not being chosen until last. The pang of sorrow at not having someone to "pair off" with. The welling of the eyes when you read about someone doing something special with a "bestest-ever friend" and not including you.

Sure, it's life. Sure, it's normal. Sure, "it's just something that all kids have to deal with at some point in their life." I know that. Believe me.

"What hurts the most makes us stronger," right?

I grew up hearing those phrases. I knew that there was always a reason I wasn't chosen until last. I understood that it was "just one of those things" that I shouldn't worry about it when my friends paired off with others. I was told to just accept it and move on. One day, I'd meet a best friend. I just hadn't met her yet. Like there was some kind of fairy godmother out there who would come floating down and magically make my friend who'd liked me yesterday suddenly like me again today.


It doesn't matter so much to me now. I married my best friend.

But how much that hurt comes back when I hear my daughter whisper her own sadness through her tears, wondering why no one seems to like her, asking me if she isn't likable, if there's something wrong with her. She tries to be nice, she says. She's always kind.

Of course, all the platitudes spring to my lips, and I have to try to catch them before they slip out.

I don't know why she's having these troubles...why she keeps having these troubles...why we can go to all sorts of organizations, including church, and have kids who are actually mean to her...  I wish I understood. I wish my magical "mommy kiss" could fix this.

I've examined it from all angles, trying to help her to see what she can do differently, how she can act differently, dress differently, talk differently....

But why? Why shouldn't they like her for who she is? Why can't they?

And then my heart breaks again as my son recounts his first night of Spring soccer and says that he volunteered to be goalie only to have all the other boys say, "Oh, no! Not Edward! He's not good."

I try to hide my own sadness and ask him how he handled it, trying to get the gist of his feelings.

He smiles sadly and says that he just played better. He prayed and stood strong to their disapproval of him. I'm proud, but I know he hurts from it.

These are the times that no parenting book really prepares you for. There are no words to describe the pain this creates inside a person...especially a person who is still so young and tender. I want to move away, run away, hide away, put some kind of protective bubble around all of us and just hug these precious kids tightly.

So I beg all of you, parents -- and it's nothing personal -- to talk to your kids. Tell them to be kind and loving towards ALL people, not to shun those who might seem different in any way. Expect them to be inclusive. Tell them you'll "hurt their little hineys" if they don't, and I'll do the same to mine.

There's no reason ANY child should feel sad and left out.

Kindness begins at home.

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