Monday, May 21, 2007

Turn Over The Tables, or Turn The Other Cheek?

I am in quite a quandary. My son is hurting - and I want to fix it. But, I don't know the best approach, or even if I am called to fix this at all.

As I've mentioned before, Chance is my sensitive one. He is a quiet achiever, a very polite boy, a considerate, thankful person (I love to listen to his prayers at night), and he feels and remembers everything - every comment, every look, every praise, every criticism - he takes these all in and keeps them. The positive things, they build on each other and build him up - you can see his attitude buoyed by them. The negative things, well, they do the same thing - they build up, and pretty soon create such a damper on his spirit that you can see it.

Chance is a sports nut. He has been blessed with some athletic ability, and can usually be found playing one sport or another. He is allowed to choose two extra-curricular activities each year, but even beyond those, he can be found playing whatever sport is in season about 90% of his playtime, either at home or at school recess. He loves baseball, but only because it is currently baseball season would he rate it above basketball, hockey, or soccer.

Consequently, I thought a summer basketball camp, led by our high school boys' coach, would totally appeal to him. I told him about the camp, who was coaching, and who would be there (it is for 3rd - 8th grade) - as soon as he heard who was going (or possibly going), he turned me down flat. Wants nothing to do with it. I probe further, knowing there is possibly an irrational reason for him not wanting to go - everything logical says that he should be in love with this idea. Finally (and by finally, I mean after about 15 minutes of coaxing) he tells me - if there will be 8th graders there from my school, I don't want to go, and you can't make me go!

At Chance's school (a local, private Christian K-12), each of the grade school kids has what they call a "chapel buddy." The Jr. High and High School students are each assigned someone in the grade school, and they become their partner who gets them safely across the street to chapel on Wednesdays, buddies up with them for fun projects throughout the year, and basically becomes their mentor for the year. A fabulous concept that works well probably 95% of the time. I guess this year, I became a part of the 5%. All the boys in his class this year were assigned 8th grade boys as chapel buddies. So, of the 8 boys in his class, about 4 of them got a good match (according to Chance, they got the "nice" ones), and 4 of them got the "rowdy" bunch from the class. After almost a full school year, it has taken it's toll, and has ended in meltdown.

I finally got to hear about constant ridicule (as perceived by Chance), wrestling that ends in hurt feelings and crying, projects that are supposed to be fun are ruined, etc. Many of the stories are vague - probably because my closed-mouth kid has held them inside the ENTIRE school year! But, they are so hard on a mom's heart - obviously on a kids' heart, as well!

So, where do I go with this one? I have an appointment with the school to get answered some basic questions like - how are the buddies picked, will they be paired with the same class next year, who in the world decided that 2nd graders wrestling with 8th graders was okay, and how do you plan to fix this system????

Beyond that, though, is helping Chance come to terms with this. Several times in the bible, Jesus both preached and personified turning the other cheek. He took more punishment and ridicule than any man ever should have to endure. He calls us to love our enemy.

But, he also angrily turned over the tables in the temple when people were being treated unfairly - when the worship of God had turned into something it shouldn't.

Chance and I have started to address the cheeky/loving side of the issue. We remembered his fabulous chapel buddies from last year with thankfulness. We talked of him remembering this year forever, and he vowed when he's old enough to be the kind of chapel buddy he is wishing for. We prayed, honestly and earnestly, for his chapel buddies and the others. I think it was a good first step.

By no means, do I want to be the mom that thinks her kid is perfect, and always jumps to his defense because the world is against him. I know my kid is not perfect. I know there are many times when he is as much or more to blame than other children. He has his fair share of instances where he is in trouble. But, for the life of me, I cannot find a justification for ridicule, embarrassment, and pain from someone who is supposed to be your mentor.

And, folks, this mama is still ready to turn over some tables. 8th graders are picking on 2nd graders, for goodness sake!!! At the Christian school!!!!!!

But, as my already very wise son said to me:

"Mom, just because you go to a Christian school, doesn't make you act like a Christian."

Oh, son, unfortunately you are so right. So, for now, let's go back to that praying part . . .


Cynthia said...

Oh, Heather. How horrible, I feel so bad for him having to endure that this long. You're doing the right thing going to the school to get answers to some questions. Our prayers are with you both.

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

Oh Heather. This one hurts, bad. I think you're making an incredible teaching experience out of this. Like Cynthia, I'm glad you're going to get answers from the school. Please keep us posted.

Susan said...

My goodness. What a thing to have happen, and for the entire school year! I think it is good to ask for answers, even if only to make them think about the process next time. And that is a very wise comment from a very young soul.

Darla said...

Things went in the right direction & hopefully the school will stand by those decisions.. Hang in there. God gave us our children and part of the reason is to protect them..You are doing an awesome job as a mom..