Monday, October 29, 2012

When Not Everyone Will Be Your Friend

Even from half a football field away, I can see my oldest son's face crumpled in anguish, streaked cheeks catching the afternoon sunlight as he stumbles down the school bus steps and hurtles across the gravel towards me.

His every step is slower, heavier than normal, that light, carefree bounce I can't imitate if I try completely absent.  I walk more swiftly to meet him halfway, fighting a motherly urge to just run and catch all fifty pounds up in my arms, lifting him in an embrace for all to see.

Wyatt is still too young to be ashamed of tears, of running into mommy's waiting arms while a whole bus-full of children stare out of cloudy rectangle eyes.  Still, I am aware that day is coming and try to let him take the lead in how much emotion he's willing to share in public.

A couple weeks ago when this same teary scene played out, his small frame literally folded at my feet so that I, too, had to sit in the dirt, draw him onto my lap, and rock him until the worst of the storm had passed.

Today, though, our thick, puffy coats, thin bluejeans, and the fading light say it is too cold to sit on pebbles until the waterfall dams up.

When he reaches me, all he can choke out before falling into my chest is, "I really don't think he wants to be my friend." 

This.  Again.

Hand in hand, I guide him inside Oma's house where the twins are gleefully underfoot in the kitchen, supper preparations filling the air with smells of warm goodness.

Yet, even the unmistakable aroma of brownies fails to entice him as he moves down the hall to the solitude of the unheated bathroom.  I follow, turn on the room's small space heater and sit by the radiating warmth of its glowing zigzags.

Through his sobs, I make out a tale of being falsely accused by his seatmate of taking a paper, of that same boy tattling to the substitute bus driver, and of that poor, poor man fussing at Wyatt to put it back where it belonged.

While this is the present symptom, it's just one of two dozen or more that speak to a deeper hurt--that this little boy doesn't want to be Wyatt's friend.  It's something he can't comprehend, why anyone wouldn't want to be kind and friendly, why anyone wouldn't want to hear his story, look at his Scooby Doo book, or just simply talk with him.

I've tried explaining that it is impossible for everyone to be his friend.  I've shared my own stories of mean children not liking me in grade school. I've suggested ignoring him, praying for him.

He and I have brainstormed reasons why this little boy may say cruel things to Wyatt.  Perhaps he's very tired or sick.  Perhaps he doesn't know how to be friends.  Perhaps he doesn't have a mommy or a daddy.  Perhaps he doesn't have Jesus in his heart to teach him how to love others.

Logic, though, doesn't touch an injured heart. Hurt is hurt.

"It was a perfect day," he sniffles, pauses, tears starting to cease.  "Except for the bus."  And with those words, the second wave begins.

I don't tell him his feelings are wrong.  I don't tell him he is a big boy who must get over it and move on, even though this is the truth of life he will have to learn himself.  I simply sit in the soothing whir of the heater's fan blades and make shushing sounds as I rock my firstborn on the floor.

After awhile, he reaches his arms completely around me and draws me closer.  I whisper that daddy will speak with the bus driver and ask if perhaps he can move to a different assigned seat. 

This rejection--it's hard enough for adults to deal with.  I'm thirty five; both head and heart still feel the sting when I receive a negative comment on this blog or when someone is overtly rude to me because of my Southern accent, my faith, my appearance, my whatever.  But not understanding why everyone can't like you just as you are is devastating for a five year old.

I can't protect him from everything, much as I'd like to.  The comfort of returning to the safe haven that is his home won't block out the pain inflicted by the world outside the farm. It won't keep out those who would rather bully you than befriend you.

This is simply the curse of sin, the pain and division it causes to to all living under the curse.

But understanding that doesn't heal the heart of a hurting little boy.  Only God and a whole lot of love can do that.

In his own time, Wyatt unfolds himself, gives me a weak smile, then asks, "Can I have a brownie now?"

Sunshine peeks through a crack in the clouds.

1 comment:

  1. As a child who knew his pain and an adult who is still growing in this area, it is a blessing to see you walk this journey with fresh eyes. I truly hope the bus driver and parents handle this as well on the other side of the story.