I’ve always heard that there is no pain like that of a parent watching their child suffer. I never thought this was true until it recently happened to me.
Never fear, my kids aren’t sick, oh no, they are perfectly normal and healthy. If by perfectly normal you mean never wanting to take a shower, never wanting to do their homework, never wanting to stop to eat, never doing anything I ask without first complaining, etc. etc., etc.
But let’s set that “normalcy” aside for a moment and focus on the moment that I actually felt heartbreak for my child. It is a moment that I will never ever forget.
Most dads will think I’m crazy, but lucky for me most of the mom’s reading this will be breathing a sigh of relief because they too have experienced these emotions at one time or another and will hopefully feel like their feelings are somewhat validated after reading this story.
It all started last week as I was driving through the neighborhood after work. I drove past the pool clubhouse, which is just around the corner from my house, and I saw what looked like Gibby, my six year old, sitting with his legs curled up, and his head down in the middle of the parking lot. My first thought was “what the hell is my child doing sitting in the middle of the pool parking lot?” But as I got closer I felt a well of emotion coming up my throat.
I pulled into the parking lot and could hear him crying. He hadn’t seen me yet, so I know his emotions were real. And my heart suddenly ached like it never had before. I, for the life of me, could not figure out what had happened that would make him cry like that. Then I started to panic, I wondered if something had happened to his brother, or perhaps my dad, who lives with us. All sorts of scenarios had played out ever so quickly in my mind.
So I quietly walk up to him and he lifts his head and much to my surprise, supporting his behavior were two giant alligator tears streaming down his face. He was definitely hurt by something, but what I didn’t know. So I tried my best to get it out of him
Me: Geeker (that’s what I call him, don’t judge) what’s wrong? Why all the tears?
Gibson: The older girls at the park are making fun of me.
Me: Why are they making fun of you?
Gibson: They say I have a girlfriend.
Me: Do you have a girlfriend?
Me: (shocked and suddenly feeling sick to my stomach) Who is it?
Gibson: Marissa (a little girl in his class who often comes over for play dates)
Me: So why are you upset?
Gibson: Because they are laughing and saying we are “kissing in a tree”
Me: Honey, this is what happens when boys and girls play together. Did you ask them to stop?
Gibson: Yes, but they just kept making fun of me.
Me: You have to act like their comments don’t bother you. They are only making fun of you because they know it makes you mad.
Gibson: I tried, but I can’t mommy! They are still mean.
(frazzled…I don’t know what else to say…so yes, I stoop to this level)
Me: Well then you just have to make fun of them back (I know, I’m not proud but desperate times call for desperate measures).
Gibson: I tried that too mommy, but I don’t know enough about them to make fun of them. (touché!)
Me: Well then you are just going to have to get broader shoulders honey. In the future you could try something like, “I’m rubber, your glue, whatever bounces off me sticks to you.”
Gibson: (looking at me like I’m crazy) I don’t even know what that means mommy.
Me: Me either, but I don’t know what else to tell you.
I finally convinced him to come in the house with me to have a snack. As we were sitting at the kitchen table it was like a light bulb popped on over his head…
Gibson: Hey mom, can we talk about this later? I want to go back to the park.
Me: Sure honey, have fun…and keep smiling, don’t let the older kids bother you.
Gibson: yeah…ok mommy!
I sat at the table all proud of myself thinking that it was something I must have said to him that gave him the courage to want to get back up and go fight his own battle.
Ten minutes later…
Gibson: (running in from the outside all excited) Mommy! Mommy!
Gibson: Guess what?
Gibson: I figured out how to get the older girls to stop making fun of me and Marissa.
Gibson: I took two light sabers outside, one red and one green. I took the red one because it is Anakin’s light saber. Mom, did you know that Anakin is the best fighter in Star Wars? Well except for maybe Darth Vader but he actually dies in one of the movies. You know what my favorite part of Star….
Me: Gibson, get to the point!
Gibson: Well, I challenged one of the girls to a light saber fight and I won.
Me: Oh really, how did you win.
Gibson: I clocked her in the back of the knees when she wasn’t looking and she fell to the ground.
And that , my friends, is the difference between how boys and girls settle arguments! It’s a lesson we all should take seriously!