The confidence to walk away


Yesterday we had the first of what I trust will be many incidences where a crushed and devastated child came home after experiencing the hurtful behavior of a so called friend.

I will not go into the details of the incident here, except to say that it bordered on bullying and it broke Sloan’s heart.  It wasn’t physical, but he was emotionally crushed and, as his mom, I hurt for him in a way I’ve not yet experienced.  I get teary just thinking about it.

My sweet Sloan.  I’ve chronicled some of the wonderful, funny, immensely blessed characteristics that make up this remarkable boy.  He is kind and tender hearted.  Remember his love for our older mailman, Mr. Herman?  A couple of weeks ago he came in after retrieving the mail and told us that Mr. Herman’s wife was sick.  “We should pray for her,” he said.  And so we did.  And the next day Sloan made sure to tell Herman we prayed for his wife.  That’s the kind of boy he is.

Sloan is precocious, to be sure.  He’s very confident in a lot of ways, but also becoming more aware of what others think and some of his innocence is slipping away.  He’s becoming a little more self-concious, which makes me a little sad. 

One of Sloan’s best qualities, however, is his loyalty and his ability to make and love on friends.  This is a quality that cannot be taught.  It is inborn and innate to who he is and I love that about him.  He loves his friends with every fiber of his being.  Even if they hurt him.

That’s not to say he isn’t willing to fight back.  Sloan’s mouth can be his downfall at times.  We’re working on helping him learn to control his words because that’s how he fights.  It’s not constructive and it gets him in trouble.  But at least he’s not hitting anyone, right?

As we walked home from his friend’s house yesterday after “the incident,” I talked to Sloan about how important it is to choose friends who build you up; friends who make you feel good about yourself; friends that make you smile, not cry.  And even though he had just been ganged up on, his immediate respone was to look me straight in the eye and say, “But mom, I love them.  They’re my best friends.”

Sweet, sweet boy.

There were no tears, but I could tell his spirit was crushed.  We returned home and I began dinner and then I heard a few sniffles.  I looked over and he had his head buried in his arms.  I scooped him up and the dam broke.

“Why did they do that to me?” he sobbed.

Oh, it broke my heart.  I let him cry for a few minutes then set him down and reminded him that he was a child of God and he was incredibly special, kind and good.  I then thanked him for being such a good friend, even when he was hurting.  I refrained from saying anything nasty about the kids who hurt him, but I will confess that some very un-Christian monikers crossed my mind.

Points to me for holding back…

And after dinner we walked to a local ice cream place and got ice cream cones.  It did his heart good to get out and run off some steam.  And ice cream does wonders for healing the soul, does it not?

I remember how I felt as a kid when a friend hurt me.  I remember the devastation I felt and the confusion.  But I must say, the devastation I felt as a kid doesn’t even compare to the hurt I felt for my own child yesterday.  It cut to my core and it still aches.  I know this is only the beginning as I’ve got a little girl coming up behind him and if you think boys can be cruel – oh my!

Lee and I work hard to instill in our children the confidence that they will always be loved and accepted in our home.  And when the days of disappointment come, I want them to know that they can run home and cry and find comfort and healing.

I also want to teach Sloan that it’s okay to just walk away.  That’s hard for him.  He depends on friendships, thrives on them.  So teaching him to protect his heart without crushing that natural and precious loyal spirit will be our challenge.

And now I’m going to go wipe my eyes and blow my nose.  If only I had some ice cream to calm my nerves!