Monday, October 31, 2016

For My Grey: Mean Kids, and 5 Thoughts to Get You Through

First off, if you're reading this:



In our house, it truly IS the most wonderful time of the year.

My Halloween decorations (some of which just stay up year-round, because I like it that way) are just as cherished as some of our Christmas decorations, and share the ability to just-make-me-oh-so-HAPPY when I take them out every year.

Anyway, between a trip to the ER with Took a couple of weeks ago (who is now FINE, we are pleased to say), his 50's day Sock Hop at school, my birthday (and subsequent amazing birthday party!!), and two trick-or-treating events, plus a party, this Halloween. . . wow.  We've been a lot busier than usual.

But some things remain constant (albeit occasionally slightly rushed):  like bedtime stories and strawberry milk before bed, Monday trips for After-School Icee's when Took gets off the bus, and my faithfully asking my boy (every day, even when he complains about it) how his day was when he gets home from school.

And something has come up in these conversations lately that has really resonated with me.

It occurred to me that, in many ways, my 5 year-old is going through some of the same struggles that my husband and I are.

The issue of the moment, unfortunately, is Mean Kids.

Now, right from the jump, I'd like to state that I am NOT talking about bullying.  Nothing that severe or extreme.  . . . because seriously, I would just shut that shit down in a heartbeat.  We won't stand for it, as both our boys have been told.  It is not okay for it to happen to them, and if it ever does, we want to know about it immediately.  . . . And if they should EVER be quite so stupid as to perpetrate an act of bullying. . . WOE be unto that child.  Because they won't be socializing again until they're out of college.

Thankfully, what my Grey Took is currently dealing with is nothing quite so bad as all that.

*** I would like to say that this instance alone is reason enough for my continuous refrain of 'How was your day?', and bedtime stories every night.   Because it is ALWAYS at one of these two times that I get a REAL conversation with my son.  Not just "fine," or the brush-off, but ACTUAL conversation about his thoughts and feelings.   I intend to do everything I can to keep these lines of communication open NOW, in hopes that that will make it easier to keep the door ajar during his teen years.  ***

And during the last week or so, I've learned several things that have happened at school:

1.)  Some little kid in the bathroom spit on GB (Grey Bear).

I asked him if it was accidental, and he said there was no way.
It got on his shoes, so no skin contact, thankfully.

2.)  While he was getting on the bus one day, some kid shoved him from behind.  He fell down, and his face hit the floor of the bus.  Again, I asked if it was an accident.  He said no, and that the kid laughed.

3.)  A child in his class has told him he was 'a girl,' and told other kids not to play with him because he was 'sick,' and that she wasn't his friend.  I asked him if he had done anything ugly to her, or been rude in some way.  He assured me that he had not, and I believe him.

(He has his faults, like all kids.  But he is excessively polite, and very sweet-natured to other kids.)

So all of this information came out over the course of a few days, during our conversations together.

. . . And here's this sweet, sweet, sweetest little face, telling me of his troubles, and looking at me, waiting for me to tell him how to proceed.

. . . . .

My god.

I'm 40 years old, and I'm still trying to get my head around social interaction and human socialization.

And he's 5, and he's only just started the game.

With a bunch of OTHER 5 and 6 year-olds, who have ALSO only just started the game.

. . . . Whew.

I remember when I was 5.  I really do.  Not a lot or anything. . . favorite toys, favorite shows, favorite people, etc.  But I do remember thinking to myself that it was a lot harder to be 5 than any of the grown-ups around me seemed to understand.

I hope I don't forget that.

So I sat there with my boy, and I took a deep breath. . . and we started talking about this together.  And here's the gist of what I told him:

1.)  Sometimes. . .  people suck.

I know that's not a stellar answer, but it is the truth.
Some people don't have parents that TEACH them what is kind, and how to treat people.  They're still learning.

Some people have events in their lives that make them act out in certain ways.  They might be going through a lot that you don't know about.
Some people just haven't LEARNED enough about how to interact with people, that sometimes they do it very badly.
. . . And then there are just the people that flat-out SUCK.
You've never been rude to them.  You've never done anything to them.  And they just hate you.
Grown-ups have to deal with it, too.
And it stinks sometimes.  It really does.
But the fact of the matter is that not everyone is going to have the same heart that you do, or your sense of compassion.
That is their deep loss, not yours.
Your tender heart is going to make you caring, and nurturing, and kind.  And a person like that is never going to have trouble making friends.

2.)  You don't have to take crap off of ANYbody.

We've discussed this one at LENGTH.
(Because I didn't want him to get the wrong idea about this one. . .  It doesn't mean I'm telling him he's a special little snowflake that can't do any wrong and should be treated with special, tender care.  NO.  It simply means that if someone is being hateful, crude, treating him unkindly, or doing something wrong -- he DOES NOT, and SHOULD NOT, take it.)
We've talked about how we're always respectful, etc., etc.
The bases have been covered.
But when it comes down to it, he needs to KNOW:
He doesn't have to take crap off of ANYBODY.
If a fellow student is rude to him:  walk away.
But if someone is treating him WRONG?
Tell a teacher, tell me, tell an adult.
It doesn't matter if it's an adult that's doing it, or another kid, or a stranger, or a family member.
We will NOT stand for someone treating him (or anyone else) wrong, and he does NOT have to take it.

3.)  As much as you can?  Brush it OFF.

This is much easier said than done.  And it is more of a mantra/reminder than anything.
Let their words fall off of you.
Don't let it get to you.
. . . And the best way to do THAT, is to realize:

4.)  YOU get to pick whose opinions matter to you.

. . . I will never forget an incident in my own life, when I was in 6th grade.  There was a girl in my class that had just gotten glasses.  She came to school that day, and you could tell she felt really self-conscious about them.  She was really worried about how she looked, and how her friends were going to react.
One of her friends did not react kindly, and said something that made her cry.  And I just happened to walk into the bathroom while she was standing there crying.  I asked her what happened, and she told me.
And she said:  "And now So-and-so thinks I look dorky, and I don't know if she's gonna want to be my friend any more!"
And I responded to her:  ". . . So?  ?  Who CARES what she thinks??  She's MEAN."
. . . . .
ONLY YOU get to decide whose opinions you are going to LET matter in your life.  YOU.
In my life, I highly value the opinions of:  my husband, my children, my parents, and a few close friends.
That's it.
If any of those people are upset with me, or anything I am doing, I stop and listen.
If anyone ELSE has an opinion?  . . . I mean, they're entitled to it.  But I'm really not interested in what it is.
If they like me?  That's great.  If they don't? . . . Also great.
They get to have their own opinion, and it's not gonna make or break my life.
I'm happy that I can honestly say I don't care.  I managed to set myself free from that a long time ago.
Life's too short to waste time caring what every person in the world thinks of you.
Let them think what they think.
Meanwhile, while they're busy figuring out what they think of you, or your outfit, or your hair, or how you're living your life. . . well baby --  You just go on and LIVE yours.  =)
Let people think what they think, and don't worry about it.
As long as you're happy, and you're treating people right. . . honestly.  Who cares?

5.)  Always remember:  You get to come home.

You are going to have bad days from time to time.  Everyone does.
There are going to be days when it seems like literally nothing is going your way, and you just want to cry.
And at the end of those days?
You get to come HOME.
EVERYbody needs their Safe Space.
Batman has the Bat Cave. . .
Superman has his Fortress of Solitude. . .
Bilbo has Bag End. . .
Everyone needs it.
And right now your safe space is home.
You will always be loved here.
You will always be accepted here.
You will always be listened to here.
Your thoughts and your opinions will always be respected here.
You always get to come home, and you will always get to end your day with people that love and adore you.
(And give huge, warm hugs.)

And that's nothing to sneeze at.