Kindness is one of the biggest values in life that I want to teach my six year old son.
He is already a very thoughtful little boy and his life to date has been somewhat different to most children his age. I am so proud of him.
With tears rolling down my face, I remember a time where I didn’t think I would see my son grow up. I thought as long as I taught him how to be a kind human being, he would go far in life, and I would have no worries about him.
Being kind however, is not enough to get you through todays tough, cruel and unkind world. Being kind is not enough to get you through cruel words and cruel actions.
I remember a saying from my own youth: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. Words devastate. Wounds can heal but words can have a lasting impression. A very traumatic, lasting impression.
My son has had a lot of upset in school. I have spoken to his teachers numerous times. I am my son’s ONLY advocate and therefore I will always communicate my son’s distress to the people I trustingly hand over my son to, hoping they will guard him from any physical/emotional harm in the school setting. So when my son comes home saying children have been mean to him and that he’s spent the whole of play time crying in a corner on his own, I need to make changes to protect my son. I will not have my son’s heart broken.
I need him to stand up for himself. I need to teach him how to stand up for himself. I never in a million years thought I would ever be roleplaying ‘mean situations’ with my son, but that is what we have ended up doing. For example, a while ago he was taunted and called a ‘baby’. I pretended I was Rory being called a baby. We discussed what a baby was and he was definitely not one of them! I explained they were just untrue words that someone has made up to be mean and hurtful.
We have gone through how to handle those heart breaking situations where groups of so-called friends don’t let you join in to play. But how do I explain to my son what he should do if someone becomes physical with him? I have always disagreed with the ‘if a child pushes you, push him back’ approach. That was until now. I don’t want my son to think violence is acceptable at all, but what I do want to install in him is that if he feels threatened in any shape of form, he can do what he feels necessary to protect himself from harm.
One of the reasons I take my son to Tae-Kwondo lessons is so that he learns the power and strength of his own body to fend off attackers. But most importantly, he is learning the power of his voice as an initial warning.
In Rory’s first year of school, so he was 4 years old at the time, I was mortified to be told that he had bitten another child on the face. Rory was disciplined according to the schools guidance which I went along with. Causing harm to a child was just not acceptable. But this was so out of character for my kind and sensitive little boy. Why on earth did he bite another child, and on the cheek of all places? It didn’t make sense to me. Until Rory finally told me what had happened. He was sat on the floor in a line after dinner, waiting to go out to play. Having school dinners was still a scary prospect for Rory back then and he used to take a little toy in his pocket for reassurance. A boy kept reaching over Rory to take his toy that was in his hand at the time. Rory must have felt threatened by the constant invasion of his space and reacted in the only way he thought he could. He was protecting himself. He got punished for protecting himself. I will not let that happen again.
As an adult, I have come across many mean people. This is unfortunate but a fact of life. I cannot teach Rory that everyone is going to be nice. We all know that is not true. But what I am trying to do is to equip him with the necessary tools to protect his emotional and physical well-being when situations arise. Of course I still want him to be the kind, thoughtful little boy he is, but I also need him to toughen up. It really saddens me to say this though.
As the youngest of three siblings, we grew up where everyone knew each other. No one would have ever dreamed of intimidating me due to the presence of my older brother and sister. Rory does not have those siblings. He has me.
I might sound like an over bearing, over protective mother, but the sole responsibility of a little life is overwhelming. Children need happy childhoods, and I will do my utmost to make sure my little boy has the one he deserves.
I don’t want Rory to accept people being mean to him. What I want is for him to understand that we have to learn to deal with it. As much as I would like to talk to every child that is mean to mine, and their parents come to think of it, I can’t. Although i will if need be! There is nothing more precious to me than my boy. This is just another hard lesson in life. There will be many more to come i’m sure, that will keep me wide awake at night, worrying. Who said parenting was going to be easy!
Be kind. It costs nothing and can make all the difference to someone.