The Perfect Words

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Every day after school I ask my son the same thing--“how was school?”--and every day he says the same thing—“fine.”  That word usually translates into one of two things, either nothing monumental happened that he needs to tell me about at that exact moment or something did happen but he’s going to wait to tell me when he’s ready.  And that could be anytime between now and a random time in the future.

So I take the “fine” and hope that things are going more or less smoothly.  

Then one night, as I was putting him to bed, that random time came up.

I was brushing the hair out of his face and leaning down to kiss him goodnight when he looked into my eyes and revealed a piece of himself.  He told me, in his small shaky voice, that his friend doesn’t want to talk to him anymore.

My heart started beating faster and I could feel the heat rising to my face.  All the memories of my childhood rejections and friendship headaches flooded back and I instantly felt a sharp pain in my soul.  I was angry and sad.  I wanted to take away his pain, ask him a hundred questions, figure out what happened….just do something.  But instead of overreacting, I stayed calm and listened. 

He went on. 

He told me in a choked, trembling voice, that now that he and his friend are not in the same class, his friend--the same one he’s been friends with since they were little boys--doesn’t say hello to him in the lunch line-up.

That’s when I saw the tears streaming into his pillow. 

Suddenly I hated his friend with every fiber of my being.  The same boy who I’d had over to my house dozens of times and I had adored was now my enemy.  He’s the one that had broken my baby’s heart and at that moment I couldn’t imagine how I would ever forgive him for that. 

I struggled to find the right words to comfort my son and help him deal with this friendship struggle, which I knew was just one of many to come.  I wanted…needed...the perfect words.
I took him in my arms and kissed each tear soaked eye and told him that it was going to be okay.  I told him that I loved him, that there was nothing wrong with him and that his friendship with his friend would be fine. 

I explained that the first week of school can be tough and that his friend was probably just trying to make friends in his new class, just like he was, and with the confusion of the first days of school his friend probably didn’t even see him in line.  I reassured him that his friends love him and told him that he should try again tomorrow to say hello to his buddy.

Then I tucked him into his bed, gave him a few more kisses and said goodnight.

As I walked out of his room, I realized that even though I probably didn’t say the perfect words, I was happy that I was there to hold my baby in my arms and comfort him when he decided it was time to tell me his version of “fine.”

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