When it hurts to be a parent, that’s the worst. I guess it’s one of those things you never really can prepare yourself for because it’s nothing you’d want to imagine happening to your child in an idealistic world.
Little e came home from school the other night adorned with an elbow bandage and a very lengthy story to tell. Rather than summarize I’ll just do a narrative style besides I think it will capture the situation:
“mommy, why did the kids laugh at me when I tripped today?”
“Really, how did you trip?”
“Well this really really big nine year-old boy stuck his leg out in front of me, and then I fell really hard. I looked around and everyone was laughing at me.”
(short intermission) attempting to decipher whether it was an intentional “trip” or a mere accident I deviate:
“Now how did the actual trip occur? Was it on purpose? Was it intentional?”
“Mommy, what does intentional mean?”
“Did he stick his leg out in front of you on purpose in order to make you trip?”
“Yes, yes, that’s what he did and everyone was laughing even my friends.”
The conversation actually continued our entire car ride home. Five miles from our destination, after a long day at work, silent tears began to stream. This is one of those moments where you realize the statement: “you’ll never truly know what it’s like to be a parent until you are one,” really solidifies itself. Then I remembered being tripped myself as a child. It hurt then but even more so this time (and to think I wasn’t even there).
I shielded my tears from little e, regaining composure, and just in time because he had another question for me…
“Mama, why are people mean?”
I’d much prefer the obligatory, “where do babies come from?” over this one. I struggled, thinking how do you explain the cruelty of this world to a five year-old? Why would I want to? Then the remembrance of another event, only a few weeks prior, surfaced, and my answer came:
Another incident had occurred where a child told e his clothes “sucked.” Then the next day this same child indicated how much he loved e’s watch, and wished he could steal it from him. e related both of these events to me.
“Mommy, I just don’t know how to handle a situation like this. No on has ever told me things like that before.”
Returning a few hours later e exclaimed he really wanted to go get this little boy a watch just like his and that would diffuse the entire situation and make the little boy happy. Easily done (since the watch was from a Taco Bell kids meal–don’t judge) we picked one up and e presented it to him the next day at school.
Through that situation, and now this tripping incident, little e is learning how to navigate his way through relationships. He is learning empathy and kindness toward others, and for that I need not shed any tears whatsoever.
After some talking and answering of his question,
The conversation in the car ended with one final statement (from e of course), “Next time I will tell him that is not appropriate!”
I’d like to end this post with a little bit more information, which I think might help give meaning as to why I even wrote about all this in the first place.
I met with that little boy’s mom, the one e insisted on giving the watch to, and learned his Dad is dying of cancer. So, I’ll end, “you just never know what may be the cause to a certain effect (good or bad).” The effect may seem hurtful, but what’s causing it may be even worse. I’m so proud of my little boy for having the intuition to know the right way to handle a tough situation. Turns out he knew what was going on all along (I believe somehow) because yesterday he told me the little boy sings about his Daddy dying while they’re at recess.
So, if I could backtrack and answer little e’s question, concerning the world’s occasional cruelty, differently, then I’d say, “turns out you knew the answer all along e–to teach us to be kind, understanding, and to love others.”