“Be Kind for Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Great Battle.”–Plato
One of my favorite quotes because of its absolute truth. Humans are resilient and have a natural ability to shove whatever battle they fight underneath their very surface. You never know. So be kind. End of story.
I've bared my soul on this blog for over four years. I've admitted my fears- both logical and illogical. I've admitted I don't know what I am doing. I know having you in the first place was a gift I probably took for granted before I even had that positive pregnancy test. So these words and stories and experiences and humor and heartache have all been true. I'm about to write about one of the worst? hardest? humbling? experiences I've had as a mother yet.
There are fewer places more sacred to you than daycare. You've been a fulltimer since you were 10 weeks old. You love everything about it- the Daycare Lady and her children, and her ancient dog. You love all the other kids who have come and gone. You still talk incessantly about G., your little dude friend you made when you were five months old. You two are tight! You love the routine, safety, and reign of daycare and we do too. We struck gold with that place.
Yesterday, you got in trouble for misbehavior. Honestly, you're four and it happens more and more. I know you are emotional and stubborn and dramatic and sassy and an only child who struggles to share. As your mother, I can list your shortcomings in a paragraph. I love you, but you have your ... things that I don't love. That's humanity. I have things your Dad doesn't love, and vise-versa. Doesn't make us less of people, and we try to not let those particular characteristics define us.
But yesterday's misbehavior was new for you. We were actually mean to one of your friends. Intentionally, unrelenting mean. I won't go into specifics because they don't matter. You were mean. You upset your friend, made her cry, upset your Daycare Lady and your parents. My eyes burn still, as I write this. I was stoic at pickup yesterday, calm. I drove you home, music louder than necessary. I was calm on the outside while a storm brewed on the inside. I didn't know what to do with you- because this incident was one of the biggest our family had faced yet and I didn't want to mess up how I handled it. I called you emotional and stubborn and dramatic; where do you think you got those genes? I didn't want to say or do something to you I would regret. So as you wailed all the way home, the gravity of what you were about to face (telling your Dad; every girl's worst nightmare, and not doing anything fun that night) sinking in. When we got home, I simply sent you to your room.
For two hours.
Sounds harsh. It probably was. But- you were in the comfort of your room with 456 toys, books, outfits to try on, your radio, NaNa, and big bed. You weren't struggling for survival.
I waited for the Dad to get home by doing the thing I do when I am anxious- cleaning. I clean or bake when I need something to do with my mind and hands. Music loud, mind racing, I tried to get a grip on my brain and heart. When Daddy walked in the entryway, I greeted him by bursting into tears.
Emotional. Told you.
I tearfully recounted what happened in your day. How you acted. How you might have earned a tiny stigma of being a mean kid. That is my greatest fear, that somehow lil' dude, you'll walk out of this house thinking you're better than anyone else and treating others just like you believe it. I kept wiping my eyes saying how surprised everyone was- your friend, her parents (I assume), Daycare Lady, us. I never imagined getting that report on you.
Daddy spent his time with you behind closed doors- being calm, big-hearted, and rational as he always is. I just know that 15 minutes later you came out still crying as you apologized to me. Sobbing, you said you were sorry and knew why it was wrong. You vowed to make your friend some mail to apologize and reiterated what Daddy asked you ... would you ever want to be treated that way? The answer is no, every single time. No.
You and I have had discussions at parks, diners, and Target as you witnessed firsthand the different ways people can be. Yes, people wear robes and capes and turbans. Yes, people are in wheelchairs, walk with canes, and talk with their hands. Yes, boys wear makeup and girls shaved heads. Anything goes in this grand world, and your only role in it is to be respectful. As your preschool teacher told you all year, you don't have to be friends with everyone. Just kind and respectful.
The greatest battle there is.