He finished, looking utterly miserable as he stabbed at his dinner. I took a deep breath and tried to think of what to say.
I wrote, when he was only a couple months old, how I hoped he experienced the full range of life from tears to joy, pain to excitement. I was naive, sitting there with my wee baby in my arms, still groggy and high on new mother love. It’s easy to say I want my child to feel all there is to life. It’s much more difficult when that same child sits across from you and questions why kids laughed at him and why his friends told him to shut up.
“Sometimes, people do things without realizing they’re being mean,” I said slowly. I know these boys, these friends of his. They’re not bad kids, but as is the case with most children, they can be careless. “Maybe they didn’t realize they hurt your feelings.”
“They did!” His eyebrows snapped into a frown.
“I don’t know what to say to make you feel better. The only thing I can think of is to remember how this feels and be sure you’re never the one to cause this feeling in another person. And remember too that they are your friends and when you go to school tomorrow, forgive them.”
I’m not sure what I said was the right thing. I’m not sure if it’s going to help. What I wanted to tell him was that kids will laugh and sometimes, no matter how much it hurts, the only thing to do is laugh with them. I wanted to tell him that kids will say mean things and sometimes, the only thing to do is to let it roll off your back.
He’s not being bullied. I know that. Still this helpless feeling was so awful I can only imagine how the parents of children being bullied must feel. So I hugged him tighter, snuggled him a few moments in bed, and will be sending him to school with a note telling him how much I love him.
What else can I do?