Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mom Can't Always Have Your Back

We start out, all of us dedicated moms, trying to protect our children from all of life's miseries. We fix skinned knees with the non-stinging antispectic and colorful bandaids; we intervene when another child in the sandbox smacks yours on the head with a shovel; we counsel our kindergartners on how best to keep their hands to themselves; and we are continuously advising them that kind words are just as easy to say as the hurtful ones.

And then, sometime between third and fifth grade, it all unravels and your child is left to use all of the "tools" you've provided them--in their own words. Sometimes it works. Sometimes not. And when it doesn't, I'm not sure who feels worse, you or your child. 

This weekend, my newly 11-year-old on learned some difficult lessons. Lessons that we all learn eventually. But he had to get his in quick succession in three days. First, on his birthday, I brought him a special lunch only to find him totally "shut down" and fairly non-responsive. A group of boys were continuing to taunt him. It has, apparently, escalated. He has not told me; he doesn't want me to worry. Or, probably more to the point, get involved. As he stared down at the lunch, I watched the four boys giggle, whisper and point, and say something low enough that only my son could hear. So much for a happy birthday lunch. 

After school we packed him up for his first two-day campout with his new boy scout troop. From a parental perspective, it looked like Treasure Island, complete with tents, a fishing dock, rock climbing walls, camp fires and hikes. As the tents sprouted up, I left excited. Surely this will be a most memorable experience! And when we picked him up, we could clearly see that it was, and for all of the wrong reasons. Excluded in some instances; intentionally sidelined by the 13-year-old tasked with being the "leader" in others, it wasn't what he had hoped for. As a result, he may drop out.

It is hard to watch your child suffer, whether it is from illness, scholastic issues or peer trouble. And unfortunately, there is no non-stinging antiseptic and colorful band aid that can clean it up, patch it up and instantly make it better. If only.

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