Saturday, August 1, 2009

Lessons Learned

When you hold that newborn in your arms, his little body so fragile and helpless, you swear you will do all in your power to protect him. You watch carefully as he begins to walk, wishing you could bubble-wrap the whole world. Then, they leave for school and you get your first feeling of helplessness. Oh, that you could go with him, walk invisibly next to him, arms making a circle around his body, keeping out all danger. We can't help but feel this way. It's overwhelming to think Heavenly Father would trust us with this precious cargo. How in the world am I supposed to keep him safe when he isn't here with me? I can't, and that's a sobering realization.
Fast forward to the teenage years. Suddenly that little baby you held looks down out you. His teeny hands have grown so large, and instead of a rattle, his toy of choice is a cell phone. Those feelings of wanting to guard him don't change with his body. But, when they're that big, you sort of forget that they might still need protecting. When they're small, bullies come in many sizes and shapes, but the attacks are usually physical. If your child is now bigger than most of his peers, you don't expect any problems. Thing is, bullies are bullies, and when physical attacks are no longer a possibily, they find new ways to torment. These are more subtle. They are mental, and much, much more hurtful.
He was bullied as a child, but I, in my motherly ignorance, thought it was all over and done. Then, this week, I had an eye-opener. I discovered that there has been tormenting going on for the past several years. What starts with one, usually excalates to many. What is it about these tormentors that attracts others? Maybe it's because they seem tough, maybe it's a defense mechanism ("If I join him, he won't make fun of me."), I don't know. But, once it starts, there are always others ready to join in.
I had a bit of a breakdown the day I find out what was going on. I couldn't stop crying, honestly, for a couple of hours. It's like watching someone get beat up, and being unable to move, arms pinned to your side. How can I tell this young man how amazing he is? How his goodness has made him a target? That bullies know when someone won't fight back and that's how they choose their mark? How can I make him know that I wouldn't change him for anything? That someday, in the future, he will be a better man than these jerks who made fun of him?
As I cried and prayed about this, a scripture came to mind. D&C 122:7 "...know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good." I realized that he will be stronger for what he's going through. It doesn't make it any easier for me, having to watch it. But, it helps to know that it'll work out in the end. I know that this is a lesson I needed to learn this week. Another thing I learned is that brotherhood is alive and well in my home. That my worries that they wouldn't stick up for each other were completely unfounded.
My biggest learning came when my son stood to bear his testimony. He looked directly at one of his persecutors and told him how glad he was that he came with us and that the week wouldn't have been as good without him there. I told him later how proud I was of him for saying that. His response? "Mom, we're Mormons. We don't hold things against people. You have to let it go." When did the child become wiser than the parent? I'll try to follow his example. It's not easy. Momma Bear still wants to protect her cub, no matter how big or smart he may become.

3 comments:

  1. OH goodness, how will I ever make it through the teenage years???
    It's true you know, the generations get stronger as they come. Our children are much stronger than us, thus making parenting -- REALLY hard.:)
    Take care and thanks for sharing!!!

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  2. wow! (teary eyed)

    i'm so sorry. i have no idea what you or son X is going through. he's apparently really tough. you've done some good teaching, you're better than you think you are jules!

    i love you!!!!!!

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  3. I'm so sorry! The teenage years are so hard! Trying to keep your finger on the pulse of what's happening is so hard with your sons, cause they just don't tell you about the painful things! And you can't hold their hand and go to school, Sunday School or even the friends house with them. It's so frustrating sometimes. Then with your daughters, they won't stop, you get to hear it all!
    I'm glad he has a forgiving heart. It's so much better than bitterness. You're right, hang in there, one day he'll be a strong man, father, brother, uncle because of what he's been through. Especially because he's dealt with it in a positive way.

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