For those of you who are mothers, I'm sure you've all experienced in some way, the mother bear instinct. It's that feeling of protection and defense that seems to kick in when your child is hurt or being bullied in some way.
The other day, Elisabeth and all the other kindergarteners had lunch at school in the cafeteria as a trial run for next year. We packed up a sack lunch for her and she wanted to bring some juice in a juice box, but we didn't have any. So I told her she could put juice in her Cinderella sippy cup that she takes to bed with her so water doesn't spill in her bed. She put her lunch and her Cinderella cup in her back pack and headed off for school.
When she got home I asked her how lunch went and she said, 'good.' But then she looked down and then looked back up to me with tears in her eyes and said, "the other kids were making fun of me because I had a sippy cup." I looked at her lovingly and told her that I was sorry that happened. And then I told her perhaps she could tell them it's not a sippy cup but that it's her water bottle, just like I carry a water bottle with me everywhere. Then she asked if we could get a smaller one just like mine for her to bring with her lunches when she's in first grade, and I agreed.
She went on to tell me that one of her friends in school, didn't really want to be her friend anymore. I asked her why she thought that, and if this friend had done or said something unkind and Elisabeth told me that this friend didn't want to play with her anymore and found another close friend. Elisabeth said she went over and tried to play with them but her friend whispered to the other girl not to play with Elisabeth. Again her eyes filled with tears as she told me the story. She had also told me a few days before, that this same friend and another girl had been making fun of her size, because Elisabeth is smaller than most kindergarteners. My mother bear instincts kicked in, I felt a huge wave of sympathetic emotion pass over me, and I wished so badly that I could be there by her side during those times, to help protect her from everything in the world that is unpleasant and unkind.
I gave Elisabeth a hug and a kiss and told her how much I loved her. I told her to recognize the way she felt now, and to be sure never to do that to anyone else. Not even to the friend who was causing the pain. And then I helped her to see how very loved she was by so many others and then we switched gears and played 'house' for awhile.
Our kids are getting to an age where their friends are beginning to have some influence in their lives, and it can be really hard, as parents, to watch. I know these situations weren't a HUGE deal, and I'm sure it's going to get infinitely worse as they reach their teenage and adult years. I really hope that throughout their lives we remain close and that I can get to know their joys and help them through their challenges, and hopefully rear them up in a way that they will learn to make good decisions on their own, with the influence of the Lord in their lives. I'm still learning how to control my mother bear instincts and I'm learning how to best approach sensitive topics and how to best teach the children to be the best, most honest, kind, hard-working people they can be, but it's definitely not easy. Hopefully I'll have it figured out before all my kids leave home.