“Mom, can I ask you something?” my son asked me this as he put away his backpack after coming home from school.
“Of course”, I answer, slicing apples and spooning out peanut butter for a snack. “What’s up?”
“Why does everyone think I am such a loser? How come no one likes me?”
I put down the knife, look my son in the eye and tell him in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS:
“You are not a loser. You are a wonderful, special person who has so many gifts to share and so much talent to show. You are a great person, Aedan, and a nice kid. ”
There are one or two kids on the bus that mess with my boy. Not physically bullying- just a few unkind words, every day, on the bus. They share with him that special gift of alienating him. You know, the “don’t talk to him, don’t sit near him, don’t include him” game that is particularly hurtful. My son is the kind of kid they want to tease because he makes them uncomfortable- mostly because he REFUSES to accept their behavior and meanness and calls them out on it. When they call him a loser, he refutes them. When they ignore him, he tells them they are rude. He lives the way that I, and our bible have taught him and he tries, again, and again and again to be kind and forgiving and to turn the other cheek.
They look for and find– his weak spots. They call him fat- and he is not. He just turned 11 and is 62 inches tall. He is a little bit overweight- but they tease him and have him doubting his self-worth which he ties into his body image. It’s not only girls who have body image problems.
They call him a loser- because he doesn’t play the violent video games they do and isn’t as MEAN as they are. I am not blind to my son’s faults and I know he has said some biting retorts to those kids- but the mom in me is fine with that. I don’t allow him to play violent video games, I tell him that it’s OK to say that’s our family rules. The fact that other kids call him out on it saddens me. He doesn’t play many sports because asthma made it difficult for him in the past. That and the teasing that he endured make it hard for him to keep trying. For now, he is still trying- trying to get into pickup games and playing school-sponsored things- but, when will he decide that it’s no longer worth the heartache?
He loves to play outside- he loves to ride his bike. He loves to build and play games and imagine and read and just play. He loves Scouting. He loves helping out at the animal shelter. He loves playing card games and Nerf wars and torturing his older sister. He loves archery, his airsoft gun, and to make crafts. He spends endless hours with his ill grandfather with infinite patience just enjoying each and every second he can with him, knowing that they are limited. He builds forts and wants SO badly a treehouse that I have no clue or budget to build but I will find a way to make happen. He bugs me weekly for a go-kart, and I suspect soon he will figure out how to build one himself. He collects baseball cards, and old vinyl records and spends a lot of time listening and talking about music with us. We spend hours studying the stars with his telescope. We go hiking and explore Connecticut together. He shyly shared his first crush with me, a sweet, kind and lovely young lady who smiles back at him. He loves to pray with me. He always, always stands up for the underdog. And he is a good friend to those who get to know him. He is a great kid, and for now, not willing to compromise what he knows to be right for the sake of being included. I hope he never loses that quality.
So my answer to my boy is that YOU are NOT the loser, you are just not like them, so it threatens them and makes them uncomfortable. That’s why they tease you. And he says, “ok, Mom, I guess I’ll just pray for him and try to be friendly again on Monday.” He wiped his tears, took another hug and left me in the kitchen with a slightly broken heart and a tiny smile on my face thankful for the chance to be the mom to THIS BOY, this blessing.
Please, God, let Monday be a better day.