It was only the 2nd or 3rd week of school and my son got in the car and proudly said “I played with “John” today!” Immediately my mama heart swelled, (I’d like to blame the fact that I am 4 months pregnant but this topic makes me lose it anytime) and I started tearing up behind my big sunglasses. They were tears of pride but mostly tears of joy for this little boy, (who for the sake of the post we will call “John”) a 5 year old, who today had a friend.
Earlier that week my kindergartner mentioned on the way home that there was a boy in his class, “John”, who had approached the teacher after lunch sadly expressing that he didn’t play with anyone at lunch. When I heard this, I started to cry for a different reason, but kept my composure behind my sunglasses, 😉 as I continued to discuss this with my 5 year old. It’s something I carefully listen for and discuss with all my kids. We talked more and I asked him if he had seen him and he said he didn’t and we decided that next time he would try to keep an eye out for him so he could invite him to play with him and his friends next time.
As a parent it’s a hard place to be, and a hard place to put your kid. I am not at school or lunch and I can’t control what all the kids do. I don’t know much about the kids in the class, especially at the beginning of the year. One thing I do know is that I worry and pray for all my kids, boys and girls, each year as school starts and especially kindergarten or any year starting at a brand new school that they will find friends. Another thing I know is that I CAN control how I raise my kids and what we talk about. But I also know that when they are on their own, away from me, it’s entirely up to them to make the decision. I was so proud of my little man for stepping out and being a friend and I was so thankful that today “John” had a friend to play with.
There is so much to deal with in this imperfect world we live in and I am a firm believer in loving each and every person that comes in your path because you have no idea what they are dealing with. This issue has been bothering me for some time and it’s no surprise to me that God put it on my heart to share this month.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month. There is an awesome post that has been circulating for some time and upon searching for it, there are multiple posts about this same concept. It’s an idea that we are all familiar with, but for whatever reason it doesn’t come naturally. It’s the idea of teaching our kids and really for us, ourselves, to be “an includer”. It’s simple but not always easy. It can be uncomfortable when it means stepping out of your own comfort zone and going against the tide.
The kindergarten teachers at our school try to foster this concept by asking that if you are having a party and passing out invitations at school, you invite all the kids in the class or all the boys or all the girls, rather then selecting just a few. Include everyone, it’s simple! You might be thinking, that sounds crazy and huge; I came from a large family so chaos and large numbers are second nature, the more the merrier. If you can’t fit everyone at your house, change your venue to a park. Maybe, the problem is money, or space, or fear of the unknown but I challenge you, before you make any decision, decide if its worth hurting a child and truly put your kid in their position.
This example may seem silly or futile but it’s the first of many decisions and conversations we will have with our kids and ultimately plays a part in shaping who they will become.
It’s as simple as taking a second to decide if your action will result in hurting or helping someone else. You wouldn’t drive through a crosswalk without looking first to make sure no one was crossing. So why do we not look at all our decisions in the same way? Maybe it stems from years of excluding, or just simply going along with others. Maybe it’s years of not having the confidence or being afraid to step out. Or perhaps it comes from being hurt yourself and learning it that way. Either way, right now, no matter if your kids are big or small talk to them about being an “includer.” Pray they have the strength and wisdom to step up when the opportunity presents itself. Use every opportunity to talk to them about this issue and hear this message yourself.
Be an “includer.” Love whoever God put’s in your path each day.
- “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”