I was doing our nightly routine. Individual bedtime visits with each child. During the second visit, my eldest shared how two of the boys said he was no longer their “best friend” and he couldn’t play with them during morning recess. I would have taken it a lot harder, but he bounced right back and said by the afternoon time on the playground they had readmitted him into the fold.
I looked over at the youngest and asked him if he had heard this exchange. I said, “If you hear people being mean to your brother, then you need to go over and say ‘hey, don’t be mean to my brother.’ You have to stick together.”
As the little lady made her way into their room to hear the conversation, I looked at each of them and urged, “I want you guys to be the kind kids on the playground. If someone comes over and says, ‘Can I play with you?’ then you let them play with you. You need to be everyone’s friend.”
The youngest looked at me and replied, “Mommy, I don’t think I can handle that.”
Sigh. Yes brother, I understand.
The reality is, I can’t handle it either. It’s more of a do what I say rather than do what I do on that one.
So I shared a story with them. There was a girl, and I told them her name, who was mean to me. And not only was she mean to me, but she said mean things about me to other people. That made me really sad. Until it made me really mad. And then I said mean things about her too.
Until she sent me a note. Which was not mean. So I sent her a note back. Which was not mean.
“And now you’re friends, mommy?,” they collectively inquired.
I replied yes, although of course in adultland it’s more complicated than that.
Unless it’s not.
Unless we’re just kind to everyone. And if everyone wants to play, we let them. And if everyone wants to be our friend, we let them. And if someone is mean to us at morning recess, maybe we forgive them by afternoon recess. Instead of just letting it hang on and on and on.
So I’m still going to ask my children to be the kind ones at school. And sometimes they will succeed and sometimes they will fail. I will do the same. We’ll keep working on it until we do better.