Most nights before the kids lay down and I’m home with them alone, we end up talking for quite a while about the most random things. Usually it’s something like “mom, would all of our organs fall out if we didn’t have skin or would our bones hold them in?” Or “hey mom, I have this really great and LONG story to tell you about this one thing that happened at school.” Or maybe “mom, what’s the weirdest thing you ever did when you were little?” Ok fine. These kids know what’s up at bedtime. I am a relational being, friends, and these children are not dumb.
One night, this past year was no different. Except that it sort of was. I was sitting on Jackson’s floor getting ready to pray over them when Lanie asked the first question.
L – “Hey mom…”
Me – “Lanie. I already let you guys stay up too late. It’s time to go to sleep”
L – “But I just have a question”
Me – “Seriously. You guys are gonna drive me nuts. You always have a question at bedtime. Every night. FOR REAL. You know I’m gonna answer you and the you’ll be up for like 5 more hours coming up with 100 more questions I’ll feel the need to answer. I’m gonna pray and then you guys need to go to sleep. Are we good?”
L – “It’s just one question. I promise.”
Me – “Ugh. Fine. One question.”
L – “When a kid at school makes fun of my scars, do I tell a teacher or just ignore them?”
And then instant anger towards whatever kid would say something about another kids scars… What is wrong with people?! And who should I call first in the school system to give this kid some serious talking to? Instead of flying off the handle and asking who this kid was and googling how I could get ahold of their parents, I took a deep breath in (partly to hold back my tears and partly because I needed to gather my sane thoughts) and smiled at Lanie.
Here was my little girl, sitting in front of me, waiting for me to answer. She wasn’t mad. She was just sincerely asking me what to do. She was already choosing a higher road, she just didn’t know what it was.
Jackson started asking who the mean kid was and told me that tomorrow he would tell the kid to leave her alone and tell them how dumb it was to say that, especially to a girl and that her scars are cool and that he wishes that he had some too because it looks like she was in a really awesome sword fight. Whew. This kid.
I thanked Jackson for his tenacity but said maybe we could just talk about it a little first (but also…let’s do what Jackson said).
I told Lanie that kids question, and sometimes make fun of, the things that are different from them or the things they don’t understand. I told her that this kid had probably never seen scars like hers and didn’t know how to react or what to say, so instead they just made fun of her.
I asked her a couple of questions about the words that were used and how that made her feel. I asked her about what she wanted to do in that situation vs. what she did do. She answered my questions and then told me that usually kids don’t see her scars but today at recess she was hanging off of a bar and her shirt came up. She then told me what the kid had said (KIDS CAN BE MEAN YOU GUYS!) and then she said she just pulled her shirt down and walked away to go play on the swings. Oh the grace. This one is a ball of fire and I usually have no idea what will send her over the edge and what she will allow.
I asked her what SHE thought about her scars and she looked up at me with a huge smile and shrugged her shoulders and said “I like them”. “I like them too” I told her and smiled back at her.
I told the kids how proud of them I am; for Jackson standing up for his little sister and for Lanie not letting other people’s opinions change her or discourage her.
I am blown away by the hearts of my children, you guys. I have one mean comment or snide remark thrown my way and I feel angry or defeated. I take so much to heart. And I allow myself to overthink the words spoken to me…or about me. And then here is Lanie: 9 years old and secure in who she is and unscathed by what she has endured. And proud of the marks this life has left on her.
God reminded me that night, and many nights since then, that the world we live in can be so hard. We will be misunderstood and mistreated, but God is faithful. He sees Lanie and notices her. He delights in her strength and courage and the scars that prove that with Him, she can overcome.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Written by Ali Hettinger, MA, MHC
TEAM Restoration Therapist