“Nobody usually sits with me on the bus.”
I hear the softly spoken words laced with so very much sadness, and my heart beats hard in my chest, pounding with indignation over the hurt feelings of this tender-spirited child.
Out loud, I say, “Well, that doesn’t matter, right? Your company is fantastic! If they don’t get to enjoy it, that’s their loss.”
“No one else does this the same way, Mom.”
I hear the frustration and self-criticism seep into the syllables and my pride rears up, ready to defend.
“That’s nothing for you to worry about– don’t ever try to hide your abilities just to make others more comfortable. Embrace theirs and always, always show kindness, but don’t hide who you are.
“He called me ugly.”
And my heart crashes to the floor. Never mind that, on all that is good and holy, I swear this child stops people in their tracks, not from being ugly but from being, well, visually appealing. Never mind that there is not even a sliver of a possibility that there is any truth to the statement, I feel simply broken that the words were ever uttered.
I say firmly, “Well, you are NOT. Not only are you bright and kind and fun, you are also lovely. There’s a reason people tell you that all the livelong day. If he can’t see that, work harder to make him see how strong and loving and determined you are.”
My children are happy kids.
They’re pretty well-liked, honestly. We haven’t had to deal with any devastating bullying or any of that.
But, sometimes, they feel left out. Ignored. Criticized. Not ENOUGH.
So I say the words. I wrap them up, hold them close, build them back up. Over and over, I remind them to rise up, ignore the naysayers, be encouraged.
And then I read a critical comment.
Or open a carelessly construed email.
Or realize that I’ve been kept “out of the loop.”
I curl within myself, convinced I am less, convinced that I lack, convinced I’m not worthy.
I’m not sure we ever truly stop wanting to fit in.