News flash: I’m not perfect!
But I’m trying.
Two years ago, chilly morning, I was the door-greeter at my daughter’s school. Glamorous, I know. The music teacher asked for volunteers and I supervised drop-off for before-school choir and band rehearsal. (*Most Interesting Man in the World: I don’t always add that many hyphens to paragraphs, but when I do, it’s for BayArt.*) Sounds more complicated than it actually was. I, the appointed adult human lump of flesh, simply opened the door for sleepy kids and made sure they weren’t kidnapped. Important job, but pretty easy.
I was sitting on a handily-placed bench in the small foyer of the elementary, watching parents drop off and speed away to work. Or back to bed. You could easily tell where people were headed by the state of their hair. Quaffed and polished: work OR crazy bird’s nest: back to bed! After the scheduled drop-off time, a late car pulled up with two kids and one irate mom. Off my perch, I dutifully opened the lobby door as the van came to a stop at the curb. One child got out of the back; another opened the door to the passenger side front. She didn’t get out. Her leg dangled out of the car frame while Mother-Driver finished scolding her. The mother was: frustrated, irritated, annoyed, high-pitched, yelling, HARSH!
I could tell both felt disrespected. Did they both have a right to feel that way? Who knows. Maybe. From my own experience with my daughter, probably.
Maybe it’s a stressful, double-hormonal week in their house. Maybe Mom is super demanding? Maybe no one can ever please Mommie Dearest and Daughter is sick of it! Maybe Daughter said some nasty, flippant thing right before she opened the door and Mom had a legitimate beef with her evil, rotten spawn of a demon child. Maybe it’s none of my business and I should just assume the best–that these two ladies had a not-so-good morning (they were running late) like all people from time to time and they require grace like every other human being on the planet.
I don’t really know either one of the people I’m describing. My limited experience with this family is that the daughter was gossiping and picking on MY daughter at the beginning of the school year.
In choir, the girl spread a rumor that my daughter was a terrible singer and that she was single-handedly ruining the choir. Writing it out loud sounds incredibly petty and ridiculous and untrue. The only reason I’m repeating it? To show the only contact I’ve had with this family and how bitter I could be about their behavior. This present example of mother-daughter bickering in front of me did not raise any redemption as being nice humans. I’m embarrassed to even type or repeat the rumor. It doesn’t even matter what this girl said. My daughter was not raised to believe lies, rumors or waste time on petty gossip.
But, like many women, my daughter doubts herself when others try to tear her down. Doubt enters in like Vegas gamblers at a food buffet. Doubt may enter because she’s an unsure preteen who is constantly judged by the world. She’s doubtful because she wants so much to fit in, be liked and receive praise. She’s so eager to be loved and succeed, even though Dad and I love/have loved her HARD. Doubt overwhelms her sometimes. I know how she feels.
And especially about singing. In sixth grade, singing was everything. She wanted to write her own songs (she actually did) and become a famous singer. (That’s all changed now in 8th grade–enter art.) She wanted to audition for honor choir, she wanted to pursue music classes of any kind. She wanted singing lessons, piano lessons. Music was the end all-be all. She was so nervous about auditioning for honor choir. She faltered on her audition piece and wanted to try again. The choir teacher said, “No need. You did just fine. I gave you a 5 out of 5.” Important disclaimer: this is not bragging!
This explanation is just to illustrate–I don’t think she’s ruining the choir. But what hurtful things insecure girls say about insecure girls can mean the world. I understand: there are more important matters in the world than whether or not my daughter sings well. But to a twelve-year-old, whether or not she sings well and what that means for her future? It IS the world.
So this is the girl who said bad things about my kid?? She purposefully tried to hurt my daughter. No doubt. And she’s having an embarrassing kerfuffle right in front of me.
Do I dislike her? No.
She’s just a kid. And whatever behavior she learned or engaged in, that is a direct reflection and responsibility of her parents.
Do I hold a grudge against this kid? No.
She’s just a kid. I’m a Christian and we’re supposed to forgive.
Was I wary of this kid? Yeah!
I felt nervous for MY kid. Mama Bear has claws! And they. Are. Out! I always feel protective of my daughter. Maternal instinct. And sometimes, yes, I can be too quick to
Today though. Today. I had immediate and deep compassion for this kid. I saw her for the first time with vulnerability and grace. I was this girl. I am this girl.
She’s tall, overweight, bully-ish and uncomfortable in most situations. Too defensive and on the edge. She doesn’t feel like she fits in and so…lashes out. Her parent is riding her and she has a bad attitude. She’s probably been pushed around by parents, other kids and other adults. I was this poor kid. I *still* am this kid.
AND. I’m the mother. Ready to be offended. I don’t yell at my kid, but I sure-as-heck harp on my husband. I don’t wanna be the crazy lady yelling in the car in front of everyone. But I do often feel disrespected. I wish to GOD I was not so easily offended/hurt/angered/tempted. I am an easy target for Satan when it comes to my pride. I have reasons to feel this way from my past, but no good reasons. So.
I am the daughter. I am the mother. I am the embarrassing sideshow in front of the school. And I understand every bit of past behavior and circumstance that has brought these two ladies to my door.
So what did I do? In a matter of seconds? I only have a few seconds for all of this to occur to me. So. Enter God.
I recognized my own failure in these actions. I put aside my hurt and anger and identified with these people. I gave them grace in my heart. If not a verbal acknowledgement, a mental pass at their actions. So often I make constant judgments about people’s ridiculous behavior and I cut them down in my mind. Kill someone’s integrity in your mind with thoughts and words, might as well slander (kill) them IRL. God says that.
BUT! That morning! I made a change. I prayed for them! I prayed for them on the spot because I don’t want to be judged when I find myself in the same situation. I want to be prayed for.
I said, “Good morning!” with a smile to the girl who hurt my daughter. Understated, but loving. And I prayed all over her as she walked by.
She didn’t know it and she doesn’t deserve it. But neither do I.
And I prayed for Mom to wake up, get right, calm down and have a good day. For everyone’s sake. Praying that for myself when I need it, too.
Amazing things pop up while you’re volunteering your time at school. Holding the door for people, mentally and physically. Little lessons in the smallest experiences of service and obedience.