You think you know what you’re doing when you have kids. Kids are fun, you want to teach them the things you learned, and re-live all the fun you had as a kid now as a parent. Then, you have kids and every single thing about your life changes. Maybe you’re an optimist and think of only the good things that will come. And if you are, chances are you’re going to be in for many a rude awakening in your time as a parent. I was there, I felt like an optimist going into being a dad. But, nearly every day, I’m reminded of how cruel it can be to be a kid.
One of those moments happened for me on Tuesday evening. See the Facebook post below:
So what happened? We were having a conversation about whether or not Sophia would go to school on Friday–her birthday. Which immediately turned into her telling me she hates school. The other kids are mean to her. They tell her she can’t sit next to them at lunch. My face went from red with anger to red with tears. It was fucking heartbreaking.
It made memories of my own childhood come flooding back. The taunts, the teases, the put-downs, the getting pushed around and hit by other kids. I was an easy kid to pick on, so I got picked on. I don’t want that for my kids. But, I know, at the same time that it’s part of growing up. I want to shield my kids from the awful things in the world. But, it’s not possible to do it all the time. I’m not on the school bus, in the classroom, or at the lunch table. I don’t know what the day-to-day interactions are like with the kids at school. So, we have to do our best to teach her how to react. Not to let it get her down. Teach her empathy, teach her to be kind, to be accepting.
What did I tell her on Tuesday? That kids can be mean, but that doesn’t mean she should stop being nice. If she sees a kid who is being picked on, to stand up for them. I asked her she should do if she sees a kid with no friends. Her response: be their friend.
That last response is how I know we’re doing things right. For all the ups and downs we encounter with her every day, this is how I know we’re raising her right. She’s learned to be friends with anyone and everyone–and be inclusive. And isn’t that what matters, especially in today’s world? To raise inclusive kids.
To all the new parents and soon-to-be-parents, take this kind of story to heart. We all know raising kids is going to be hard. And, it’s going to rip your fucking heart out more times than you’d care to think about.
Who has had experiences like this with their kids? How did you handle them?