So Elliott started this morning by telling me a story about a young lady in the second grade who rides the bus with him in the afternoon. Apparently she has a tendency to pick on Elliott – in his words. Most of the things he described would fall in line with the old “that’s the way girls show you they like you” category. Though I’ll confess, I’d look for any drawer to stuff his account into other than the one that holds ‘my tough little kindergartner is being bullied by a second grade girl’ stories.
Later in the morning he showed me one of the Valentine’s Day cards he received at school yesterday that had a coupon for a free week of karate lessons. A very cool idea, really. We were discussing whether he might like to do that or not. He seemed interested. Then, forgetting who I was talking too, I told him the next time the little girl on the bus picks on him he should advise her to think about her actions because he’s preparing to take karate lessons. I laughed. He did not. I felt the breeze of the spinning wheels.
A few moments later I heard him in loading paper into the printer and then typing away at the computer. We don’t let Elliott get too far into his computer time before we apply our parental obligation to censor his activities. So I did. And this is what I found:
I asked Elliott what he was going to do with his creation. He said he was going to print it out and if his friend messed with him on the bus today he was going to hand it to her. He then went back to working on his project, but without looking at me and only a fraction of a decibel loud enough for me to hear, he says “she’ll probably just rip it up.”
Katie and I were standing there when he said it. We both laughed. One of those laughing hard but working harder to keep it in to the point of risking internal organ injuries type laughs.
Elliott folded the paper neatly in half and packed it away in his backpack. I’m thinking there will be an interesting dinner time story tonight.
It’s hard to watch our kids discover the cruelties of the world. Real or imaginary.
I was gone all last week at a conference. When I returned home the boys converged on me and within seconds I was sucked into the world’s biggest hug. At least my world’s biggest hug. And when it comes to our boys and their hugs, it’s really only my world I’m thinking about at that moment.
I was reminded of my early days with Eckerd Youth Alternatives. We had a popular bumper sticker that said “We’ve hugged our kids today”. It was kind of our mantra back then, that the best think you could do for a kid, any kid, was give them a hug. At some point the bumper sticker and even the organization’s philosophy fell victim to a changing culture and its belief that there is somehow more risk than good in encouraging adults to hug children. I didn’t buy it then. I don’t buy it now.
Our kids just want to feel secure. A simple hug is the most meaningful and simple way to provide it. It surely beats paying for karate lessons.