Thursday, January 3, 2013
The words were whispered forcefully. Whispered with confidence--as if the whisperer already knew their power: "If you don't, I won't be your friend."
And I... watched. Watched my little boy's face change from the shine of easy play to the trembling of acquiescence.
My boy. We've worked so hard on the idea of cooperative play. Of being a good friend. Of going along with other people's ideas. Of sharing and being kind. And yet, I see that this is not all I need to teach. My boy is about the best kind of friend there is. Fiercely loyal. The kind of friend that--when separated from his them--talks about them, dreams up things they could do together, makes them notes and art projects.
What to do when our friends--people--don't treat us right? What should my tender boy do? I watched tears well up in his eyes as he struggled to find the right action, relieved when an adult stepped in.
Today, I took advantage of a quiet moment to pull him aside and talk.
"Noé, look at mommy. What do you think you should do if someone says: 'I won't be your friend'?"
Semi-distracted, Noé looks at me and shrugs, "I don't know."
I asked him to really look at me. Focus. "Noé, how about if Noé has a toy in his hand. And someone comes to Noé and says," I lean in towards him, "Noé, give me the toy now or I won't be your friend!"
And, my heart shattered into a million pieces. Because in that second, my boy's precious face crumpled up and tears began pouring down his face.
My throat closed up and I said, "Oh, baby. That person is being so mean to Noé, aren't they? Those are mean words, right?"
Noé nodded, tears still rolling down his sweet cheeks, little gasping breaths.
"Noé, if someone says mean words, it's ok for Noé to say, 'Don't be mean to me!' Because my Noé is a good friend. He is kind and gentle. Aren't you?"
A strangled, "Yes!" came out and he hugged me hard. Then, embarrassed at himself, he scrubbed the tears off his cheeks and sucked in a deep breath of air.
"I love you so much, Noé. Don't ever be afraid to tell me or another daddy or mommy if someone is saying mean words to you."
Ah, my darling first-born. Life's lessons are hard. Now that you are not here, seeing me, I can let my own tears fall, feeling your pain. It is hard to keep a tender heart...and yet be strong. Hard to forgive, but require respect. I think we can learn, you and I.