“Pixie Momma, Max held down Suzie and wouldn’t let her go.” Immediately my stomach feels sick and I begin to worry about what Suzie’s mother will say, think, or do when she hears that Max held Suzie down. Measures to repair the damage, imagined or otherwise, are at the top of my priority list. I thank Sally for letting me know, make Max apologize to Suzie, and begin with a lecture to Max that lasted as we exited the church building to go to our car, continued the entire way home, was followed up with questions pertaining to why he can’t seem to play well with others (most of whom are girls in our church setting), ending with my disappointment in him for this unacceptable behavior. This sounds like a tame scene, but there was definitely no calmness, patience or grace in my discussion with my son and the decibel got pretty loud as the conversation went on and on. At one point my head may have actually been spinning as I levitated. Never once did it occur to me to inquire into the situation further about the actual circumstances of what led up to Max holding Suzie down before embarking on what felt like my duty as his mother to correct the situation FAST.
This situation really happened after a recent church service, but I have changed the names of the girls. My intent was to prove to the girls and the girls’ parents that I would not tolerate my son being a bully to the girls I guess, because I am afraid of being called a bad mother who is raising a horrible son. Very soon after the conversation above took place the emotions settled down and the bile disappeared, relieving the feelings that I was about to be sick caused by the fear of the impending judgement by another mother. I dreaded that she would find my parenting skills lacking. I resumed the conversation with my son to finally hear his side of the story, which is what I should have done in the first place while Sally was standing there doing her telling. Turns out that the girls, most of whom are older than Max by a year or two, had taken his shoe and were refusing to give it back to him, making him chase them for it. He was chasing them because prior to the girls deciding to take his shoe and torment him with it, I, his mother, had told him to gather his stuff (it tends to get spread out around the church over the course of the morning) because we were getting ready to go home. So when asking for his shoe did not render its return to him, he took matters into his own hands and played the game that the girls initiated. He chased Suzie till he caught her and didn’t let go until he had his shoe because he was fearing the wraith of keeping his mother waiting.
Why Sally felt the need to tattle on Max I don’t know, but I do know that it isn’t the first time, and it will most likely not be the last. I need to relearn how to handle these situations. Instead of assuming Max is guilty as charged I need to gather all of the facts about what the circumstances are. After finding out all of the facts this time, I apologized for not getting the whole story right at the start, but reiterated to Max that he was wrong to hold down Suzie. If she wouldn’t give him back his shoe, and he couldn’t find a way to reason with her, then he needed to find an adult to mediate the situation. All this time later I still feel guilty about how I handled this situation. Especially since I know something similar has probably happened in the past often and I didn’t get the whole story ever, and it will possibly happen again in the future. I am determined to change my response the next time.
I ran across a post from blogger Momma Erin over at Christian Momma’s Guide tonight that brought this memory back to me and I realized with startling clarity that I have been doing a HUGE disservice to my son as a result of my insecurity as a mother. The post is titled I’m Worried For Our Girls and the link is below. She is talking more about how mothers responded to girls who are tattling, and emphasises that we need to raise strong girls that are able to compromise with the boys they share this earth with. I am going to take that one step further here. As the mother of a growing boy, I need to stop allowing others to make me feel shame when my son is playing or reacting like a normal, healthy boy. Momma Erin shares a story about a mother at a jumping park ( i assume a bouncy house kind of place) who was shamed and embarrassed when told to make her boys play elsewhere because they were disturbing some girls that were also playing in the same area. I have been that shamed mother more times than I can count. It is a horrible place to be! Our children learn by our examples, we need to support each other as mothers and teach our children the spirit of kindness and compassion as well as the skills to compromise.
So it will be my goal as Max’s mom to no longer engage in this behavior that is destructive to his self-esteem and a disservice to the girls we encounter by allowing them to tattle and win rather than learn how to share public spaces with all, both boys and girls.
Loving God, help me to show the grace and patience you show to me to my precious son. When situations arise grant me the wisdom to control my emotions until I have the full story and can then respond appropriately. Teach me how to encourage and uplift other mothers and not judge them in any way. Help me to foster an attitude of love for all, and help me to forgive myself when I fail. In Jesus name I pray, amen.