Motherhood, parenthood, is tough. Daily battles regarding the most mundane and ridiculous chores leaves one exhausted before the real battles even start. We protect our children from the danger, the scary, the fear, the hurt as much as possible; and it is the one area we are absolutely destined to fail.
I have mixed feelings about teaching my children about the realities of life. On one hand, I have an absolute compulsion to hold them, protect them and shelter them within my arms so that no one and no thing could ever hurt them. On the other hand, I recognize that children can’t grow, they can’t survive in this awful reality we call life without learning the lessons in the illusive safety of childhood.
I raise my children as I see fit; I am their mother and that gives me amazing rights to them. I raise them in a strict but loving home, and I raise them with expectations such as using manners constantly, using honesty everyday, and trying their best no matter the circumstances. The problem lies in the fact that none of those teachings, and none of the others I work so hard on, truly help my child when it comes to the dangers and the horrors of bullies.
I have an incredible son. He is brilliant way beyond the class level he is in, he is kind, sweet, and believes with all his heart that this world is kind and sweet. He believes that when others want to “play” with him, they are doing so in joy, in happiness, in friendship. It doesn’t matter what “game” they are playing they are trying their best to be a friend.
My son is naive when it comes to the world, but I imagine that most six years old are still naive in this world. Get him in his school classroom and he thrives. Get him in situations with other kids and my husband and I see problems.
Some of it is my fault, and I recognize that. One, I have enormous amounts of debt that I am diligently trying to pay off. I have monetary expectations of me that can not be ignored for the privilege of staying home with my children. Therefore, because I have to work, my child is forced to go to an after school care with children of all ages.
And in that after school care, is a girl named Cat. Older, stronger, meaner than my young child, she has made it her life to make his life miserable. Last night, my son came home with the outline of shoe (a larger shoe) pressed into the middle of his back. Like someone had kicked him perfectly, or someone had laid him down and literally stepped on him.
There are horrors in this life that you can not prepare for. You can read the books, look at the blogs, read the advice; but until you sweet boy comes home with a full shoe print on his back in a place that only makes one kind of sense; then you truly understand how unprepared you really are.
And my son, is not one to come to me and talk about the bullying. Oh, he is good. He will talk about everything else except the bullying, so until I actually see the proof I don’t suspect a thing. And what’s worse, is since this is a girl, and he knows the trouble he would get in if he “hurt” a girl, he won’t touch her. So instead for how long, I do not know, he has been suffering.
That is a horror that I can’t describe to you. That is a fear, and absolute reason to cry and scream out loud. My sweet child, is being kick and who knows what else, and he never said a thing.
It took my husband to finally break the cone of silence. My husband who told a story of his own bullying experience that finally got my son to open up. And still while there wasn’t a hesitation, there was still a reluctance. My son will not torment your child, my son will go to the grave before he says something horrible about another child; my son will defend your child until the evidence does not back him up. And it doesn’t matter how many times we tell my son he is not in trouble, he won’t get punished; to him it is just a part of life.
I have been a mess since I saw that shoe print; which is saying something with this disease. Despite the laughter and giggles and the normal weekend my family has had, in the back of my mind is a running montage of all the things that could be happening to my child that he won’t say.
I don’t like myself right now. I don’t like that I have put my child in this situation, despite the fact that I could never have predicted it, and I would never have done it had there been any foresight. My husband and I will take care of this at his after school program and if I find it gets worse, I will be moving my child to any other situation (I will find one).
But that doesn’t stop the guilt. It doesn’t stop the fear of the next time, which could and may be worse. It doesn’t stop the risk I put my child in because I decided to go out and use my credit cards. Doesn’t matter that in many ways this is a life lesson that might need to be learned, especially when it is only a mean girl. It could be so much worse; and yet, I sit here and wonder what will I do when it becomes worse.
When you hold that perfect child in your arms for the first time, and you swear to whatever God it is that you believe in, you make a vow. You make a vow to literally lay your life down for that child. You make a vow to protect them, love them, hold them, and raise them to be everything that you could never be. You swear to the heavens that you will be better, stronger, fuller, and yet you fail almost from the start. God gives us these children to hold, and life takes them away piece by piece.
To my children, I swear I will continue sitting right here with the glue. And should you need my sword, my net, or even my imagination it is yours. You are the greatest things that I have ever been given, and I don’t deserve you. But I will fight with you, and if needed I will fight for you. You will survive this lesson. Your mother will have it no other way.