I teach at the school my son attends, and this year, I teach first grade, which he is also in, so I see him quite a bit at lunch and at recess and sometimes in the hallway. Today, while on break, I saw Wes walking down the hallway. He didn’t seem himself, so I asked him if he was okay. His response was to simply bury his head in my chest. I asked his teacher if I could have him for 5 minutes, she agreed. (Let me insert here how much I LOVE his teacher.) I took him to the teacher’s lounge where we continued to have a conversation.
Me: What is bothering you?
Wes: A couple kids called me ‘slow’ during tag today at recess and one called me a ‘loser’.
Mama bear isn’t quite the picture you should envision. It’s more like, the 5 foot tall girl who suddenly feels 8 feet tall, weighing in at 270, with a blood pressure of 190/150. Like, I know I have on these expensive 3 inch heels, and I’m in a lovely, tailored pencil skirt, with my fake Kendra Scott earrings on, but I can ‘mama bear’ with the best of them. I (for real) don’t even care that smoke is comin’ out of my nose right now. I will handle this situation RIGHT NOW.
I arrowed up a quick prayer.
Then I took a long, (veeeerrrrrryyyyy loooooonnnngggg) deep breath and I said, “The most important thing about this situation is…what did you do?”
Wes: I told him to stop.
Me: And then what happened?
Wes: He stopped.
Me: What a strong man you are. You stood up and told him to stop and he did. You handled it. God gave you the words to say and you used them. That is what a man of valor does.
He smiled a tiny smile, but his shoulders were still slumped.
Wes: Thanks mom.
Here’s the harder part. In all truthfulness, I need to tell you that Wes isn’t fast, at all. He actually loses most races that he runs. I mean, he will never be an Eric Liddell. I had to really think about what to say at this point. Here’s what came out.
Me: Wes, you’re not the fastest runner and that is okay. You can tell that boy, “Hey, stop it. I’m not the fastest runner, but I can still play hard.” And you can. You can play your heart out. You can. That is what you can say next time.
Wes: Okay mom.
Me: And also Wes, it is very important for you to forgive him. We all mess up sometimes, you and me included. You know how we talk about our own sin and how we make mistakes? We forgive each other and it is very important that we forgive others too. That is exactly what Jesus did for us.
And then while choking back my own tears, (and maybe still choking on some choice words for that kid)…
Me: And you’re not a loser. God doesn’t create losers. And I love you. A whole lot.
Wes: Thanks mom. I love you too.
Wes went back to class.
Here’s the worst news in the world.
I CAN’T CHANGE THE OTHER KID. (I mean, I could. I can do amazing things with some good, high blood pressure.)
Here’s the best news in the world:
I CAN TEACH MY KID.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
Blah blah blah. I don’t think James had any kids. That’s fine for me to have trials, but don’t give my kid any. OKAY???? Hey, you little kid that called my son a loser, you better not provide any trials for my kid because…ooops, okay, sorry, I’m back. Jesus. Yes, trials. Trials for my kid. Jesus allows trials. Ugh. They are SO HARD sometimes.
I tried to re-read the passage like this:
Count it all joy, Lauren, when Wes meets trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of his faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that Wes may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
I desperately want to raise a MAN. I want Wes to be a godly, righteous man whose faith produces steadfastness. I want that steadfastness to have its FULL EFFECT. I figure now is the time to learn it. Right now. Today. Sitting at the lounge table at school with his head hanging low, tears forming in his little, brown eyes. Right now is the time to say, “God will show you how to handle this if it happens again. You can’t change him, but you can do the right thing. And if that kid ever says something ugly to someone else, you do the right thing. Learn from this. You stand up and speak up for anyone that might be on the receiving end of the “loser” comments. This is really hard right now for you, but this hard stuff will help you to stand up for others if this happens to them. Be Jesus, Wes. Be holy. Be strong. Be a warrior. Be a MAN.”