My daughter started school a couple of weeks ago. She was home last semester due to the pandemic, but we decided to get her back since she was dealing with feeling lonely, and we wanted her to be around other children.
It was the best decision since she came back on the first day with that childhood glow on her face of pure happiness and joy. Since the first day, she started talking endlessly about her class and her friends. Nothing compared to the one-word responses I have to dig out of my son.
She has been speaking so much about this one kid. It’s nothing bad, just news and how she worries about him when he cries or how she helps the teacher get him to line up, or get organized. Many stories are mostly unintelligible as she speaks two languages, and it’s hard for her to give full ideas in either one.
So, a few days ago, I met the mom. I told her my daughter has been speaking so much about her son. I wanted to make a connection and maybe get her a play date or two in the future months.
What happened next brought me back to some years ago when I was the mom of “that” child.
After I told her my daughter spoke about her son and told me all the stories, the mom placed her hands on her face in a sign of worry. She immediately told me she was sorry and that they had been struggling with his behavior. I stopped her from apologizing any further and told her not to worry. I told her my daughter speaks well of him and they play together a lot. I affirmed that my daughter hasn’t told me anything bad and that she wants to be his friend and worries about him when he cries or something happened. The sign of relief on her face was immediate, and she thanked me for saying this to her.
I said goodbye as I didn’t want to make the pick-up line slower, but as I walked to my car, I remembered those days when my son was “that” child several years ago.
I wanted to hug that mom and tell her everything would be fine. I wanted to tell her, her son is precious and perfect just as he is. That his character, energy, and personality are developing. He is just growing and learning to be a human being.
That’s what kids do. They do what they do because they are learning. We adults sometimes judge them so hard and spread all these things about them, giving them a reputation they don’t deserve. They need love and many opportunities to learn with guidance.
I knew this when I was on the other side, and I still felt so judged and alienated. My kid and I were labeled as so many things. I knew he was growing and that one bad day or two (or even more) shouldn’t mark his destiny. I considered myself a good mother who knew his faults and disciplined when needed and intervened when I considered necessary.
At first, my friends would admire that from me, how I could be so calm and composed when things happened. Then life got tougher for my family and me, and we went through a tornado of emotions and difficulties for some time. My kid started to deal with them as any child would when things change in their lives and need adjustment. We were dealing with those adjustments and trying to keep things normal for everyone as best as we could dealing with things one day at a time.
I noticed things changing with my friends. They were supposed to be my tribe, but then I noticed those friends started alienating us. They were supposed to be my friends. I expected them to offer a hug, to ask me if I needed help, and to be that tribe I thought they were. Instead, they chose to judge, speak ill of us and made me feel like a complete failure.
I remember when someone from school came to me with their child by their side, and I just felt my blood drop, and I prepared a speech in my mind to explain. I would say that 99% of the time, they just wanted him to come to a play date or a party, and I felt such relief.
I don’t know if that mama was going through the same. Her reaction made me think maybe she was. All I wanted to do was hug her and tell her to keep loving her son, and everything will be ok because that’s what I did. He will grow to be a caring, expressive, ball of energy little man who, with help and guidance, will then turn into a lovable, kind, fun kid because mine is there already (still learning, still a kid).
I don’t judge other moms because I have been judged. I don’t judge other kids because mine have been judged. I don’t spread rumors about other kids’ mistakes because they deserve second and third chances. I don’t like when people come to tell me gossip about other moms because they deserve to be known not by their worst moment but by who they really are.
If you know a mom who has “that” kid, offer her that hug and support. Stand by her and tell her it will be ok. Tell her you love her kid, and you think she is doing a great job. Lift her up. I know this from experience. Believe me, that’s what she needs the most.