I debated with myself about this blog post. Do I really want to write about this? Do I want to tell people about the hard things that happen to my child? Wouldn’t it be easier to just share medical stuff?
This past week several things have happened to my child that have left me sad. Things that have made me want to shelter Zack forever from mean and scary things. However, as his mom, it is my job to help him learn how to be confident in himself, take care of himself, stand up for himself and to be safe when he is not with me. At the same time, it is my job to teach my child to be kind to others, to be a good friend to others, to see past differences and to see the good in the world. All parents want that for their children….at least I hope they do.
Back to this week. A few days ago we learned that a friend was telling others that Zack said something that was untrue. I asked Zachary about it and he dissolved into tears. First of all, he did not even understand what the words meant the child accused him of saying. Secondly, he could not understand why a friend would say something that was untrue. He came to the conclusion that the best decision would be to “break up with his friend for a while.” I was proud of Zack for being able to reason through things and we were able to have a great talk about how a true friend behaves and what he can do to be a good friend in return.
Then we learned that on the playground at school there is a “secret” club of a handful of boys. They decide who can and cannot be a member. Guess who cannot be a member? Guess who wanted to be a member? Another parenting opportunity to discuss what being a good friend means. We were able to talk about how bad it feels to be left out and the reasons having a club that excludes kids like that is not nice. The second incident in one week that hurt Zack’s heart in a way he had not yet been hurt. Is this why people home school? I am just joking….mostly…. .
Yesterday, however, Zack was different. Zack was with a friend in a supervised play area at a local gym when several other children did not want him to play. They cornered him and began to kick him in the stomach (I know, right? His stomach of all places). They also tried to make him leave by pulling him by the leg and pushing him down. I am still not sure how on earth the adults in the play area did not see what was happening. Happily, one of the boys who was with Zack was able to get help. The boys were made to leave and their parents had to come get them.
This time Jim and I had an entirely different talk with Zack. We discussed how nobody has the right to hurt him like that EVER. We told him that in that case he is allowed to fight back to defend himself. We asked him if he thought about the things he learned in karate class, but I guess in the moment he was just really scared. We totally understand that.
Jim and I were pretty upset by the entire situation for many reasons. I am not going to list them all here. We are really thankful that Zack’s stoma and g-tube were not damaged. Zack has no limitations for normal play, so there is no reason why a supervised play area would be off-limits to him. We are really thankful for the mom of the friend Zack was with for taking such good care of him when the gym informed her of the situation.
As a mom of any child, situations like these would upset me. As a mom of a child with special needs, I feel even more upset. As wonderful as I think Zack is, I am not dumb. I realize he is different from other children his age. I can see it. I know that in life often the weakest ones are picked on the most. I do not like that, but I understand that it happens. Jim and I will continue to do our best as Zack’s parents to help him learn to navigate this big world of ours. We will continue to teach him that you do not have to like everyone or play with everyone, but you do have to be kind. We will continue to teach him that though there are some people who mean, most of the people you meet will be nice. We will continue to teach him how to be a good friend. Hopefully, other parents will do the same……
I’ll leave you with this video from the 2017 Pro Bowl. It fits with what is in my heart right now. What an example we can set for our children if we choose to love. Love those who are difficult. Love those who are different than you. Love your neighbor………BE KIND!
Hug your babies!