Saturday, November 19, 2011

not nice

I am writing tonight because I’ve got to get something out. It’s a little thing that has sort of manifested in to something  big- at least, bigger than I can sort through without typing it out. So here I am, with my typing fingers on.
I don’t know how else to say this,  but just to say it out.

I got really ticked off at a kid today.

It has been brewing for some time, but today it festered in my belly enough to get me writing it out. A few weeks back I kinda caught the end of an exchange between my child and another child. I overheard a little something that just kind of left me bummed out. That’s best way to put it.

My child had sort of reached out in a very small way and said something and this other child totally blew my child off. It was by “chance” that I heard the brief exchange, but it got me in the gut. Mostly because I saw all over my child’s face the sting of what the other child said.

I don’t want to go into details, but it was pretty minor- like a hey, that was pretty cool what you just did (my child just looking to make a friend) and the response was a ‘whatever’, combined with an obvious eye rolling.

It was maybe 5 seconds long, and barely a blip on the radar. Except for my child’s face.. I tell you, as a mama, it made me sad. I brushed it off – it really was super brief- and didn’t want to place a lot of weight on it. Sometimes kids are just in foul moods and like us adults, it can rub off on others the wrong way.

But I made sure to be a little more watchful.

And about a week later, I saw practically the same situation unfold again, where my child asked if they could join in on something and the other child turned his back and walked away. I had to bite hard on my tongue to not say “hey kid, that is all kinds of not nice!!!!” because I wanted to let my child sort through it. I am still finding my way here, and this was new territory so I was trying to not make it a big deal. Because I am sure this kind of thing happens more often than I’d like to think. But you see, all my eyes were filled with was the sad all over my child’s face.

Then  today. Same two children. My child calls out the other child’s name, one, two, three times, and is making an effort to say goodbye to him. My child is not even two feet from the other child and is yelling the kid’s name. The kid, finally looks over straight in the eye at my child who is smiling and waving goodbye, then the other child gives him this “why in the flip are you trying to talk to ME?” look.

My child was in front of me, so I didn’t get to see the reaction. But I could feel it. My child didn’t say anything the way home and was real quiet in the car. After we got home and settled in, I went to my child.

Again, I am not really sure what I am supposed to do here. So I sort of just followed my heart. I said I was sorry that some people are not nice, and I said how proud I was of my child, to keep trying to be polite and kind to someone even when they weren’t very kind in return . And then we talked about what to would do if we saw that happen to someone else, saw another friend be ignored and treated not nicely, and  how we come alongside a friend in that situation and be kind enough for both kids combined.

I also said some things that made my stomach curdle just to say. (because my kids are pretty young and I didn’t want to get in to the, ‘some people are just jerks’ talk quite so soon.) That sometimes we run in to people who just don’t want to be friends with us. For whatever reason. And it’s a bummer because those people are missing out on some silly, fun, awesomeness that they won’t get to be a part of when they close the door on that friendship. But that is each person’s choice- we just need to not let that person’s choice bring us down.

If you’ve even made it this far into this , I want to say—I know the whole thing sounds minor and like nothing. And reading it here, it does to me, too. But then. I am the mama, and I saw the sad face. I saw a child just wanting to make a friend, and being brushed off and ignored. And hurt.  This was a first for us.

It got me thinking about a lot. And I guess that is the blessing in this.

What if when I am not looking, that is my child doing that to another? What if my child is the one doling out his friendship like it’s some prized possession? What if when I am not looking or not aware, my child makes another little kid sad?

-Can I also say here, I am not thinking my children are exempt from any of this. I just watched as my child was on the receiving end. I know my children are not perfect…..I know them more than anyone else here on earth and I am not so high on my mama-pride to think that I’ve done such a good job at parenting to make sure they’d never treat people in an unkind way. It makes me just as sour in the belly to think of the fact that my child might have done to this another child at some point. -

I may be over dramatizing here, but it really feels like this is the kind of thing that gets bullying as far as it does. I don’t think kids become bullies over night. I think little things happen and they continue to happen, because nothing is done. (which very much made me question whether or not I should have said something here.)

I’m not trying to vilify this other child. Because it could be any kid, really. We’d all like to think our child would NEVER, but I bet you my fuzzy ugg boots that this kid’s mama would be saying her child would NEVER, too.
I am not sure what to think in all this. I know we don’t have to be friends with everyone. But I think we do have to be kind to them. We don’t have to make our kids play with everyone, invite everyone to their party, and hug or high-five every child. But I think we do need to teach them to at least acknowledge them, maybe even smile and say hi to them.

I don’t get it. And I’m going to say something that might tick some people off, but it’s the truth……the kids that I have seen not being kind to others….so many of them come from “good homes.” Where the kids go to church on Sundays, and Wednesdays, too. They say yes ma’am and no sir, and please and thank you. I am saying that because I sometimes wonder if people think doing these “good” things is enough to immunize their child to this type of excluding behavior.

It’s like we focus so much on their manners and being respectable, that we sort of brush over their hearts. What if when I was teaching my sons and daughters yes please and no thank you, I tell them why we say that. Yes please is not a two choice option to whether or not you’d like  a glass of water. It’s yes, thank you for getting me some water and taking your time to help me out. It’s no, thank you, I don’t want a piece of gum, but that was nice that you were willing to share with me. If someone is waving to you, it shouldn’t be an obligation or a chore to lift your head and your hand and say hello- it’s a blessing that someone else is happy to see your face. We acknowledge that we see them and we let them know we are happy they are there.

I’m not expecting my child to say all that or do all that on every occasion. But I’d love it if that was the sentiment behind what they said and did. If they were genuine and kind and did not reply with the standard response because their mama’s are within earshot. 

You know what else I’d love? I’d love it if my child remembers this little brush off/ignoring/leaving out thing and how it felt. If my child knows that everyone may not be nice and kind in every moment, but that is no reason to change their own hearts. It stings a little, yep, it does, when someone treats you not nicely. But to be able to still smile at the other person after. That’s the kind of stuff that makes me proud. That is living a life that honors Him.

God does not care if my child brings home all A’s, has the coolest friends in school, or whacks a ball into center field. That is not the kind of stuff that pleases Him. Being kind, caring about someone else, and coming alongside another person. I want my kids to always remember that is what living a Christ-like life is.

But you know what I’d really, really, really love? (besides a pumpkin spice latte in my hand this very moment.) I’d love it if just maybe you made it this far into my post and maybe my words spark a conversation with your child.  That maybe you insert your child into this story, as either the giver or receiver of this behavior, and you talk about it with your child…..but more than anything else, we just listen. That we don’t praise them for memorizing bible verses but rather we watch as the meaning of these verses sink in. That we do our best to show them that being good doesn’t just mean being mannerful and following the rules….it means giving people the best pieces of our hearts and handing out love and kindness instead of snarky looks and cold shoulders. I am reminded of a passage from Matthew, and I think it is a wonderful one to talk about here. (and so many other places)

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Matthew 25:40

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