My boys are boys. They fight, they wrestle, they pretend everything is a weapon. Asher's teacher told me that he had a problem pushing others last week. He pushed a boy, we'll call him John, to the floor because he got in front of him in line. Isaac told a little girl at school, we'll call her Jane, that she was mean and "No one likes you."
These are unacceptable behaviors at school or at home. My boys are boys but I will not allow a "boys will be boys" attitude. I am not raising a boy, I'm raising little gentlemen and some day they will need to know how to behave like one.
In Asher's situation I told him that it was unacceptable to push or shove anyone anytime. I asked him how he could use his words instead of his hands when he got pushed back in line. We came up with an acceptable response and he hasn't had a problem since. He still complains about this boy's behavior after school a lot. We've been trying to get him to speak nicely about this difficult kid and find positive things to say about him and care less about unimportant things like line placement.
In Isaac's situation we talked to him about how we never tell someone what they're like unless it's a compliment. You can always tell someone they are nice, or beautiful. We talked about how many bullies don't have anyone in their life showing them how to be nice. Asher fully participated in this conversation, "Does she have any friends?" he asked. Isaac said she didn't have any friends and no one liked her because she was mean! I told him I'd like him to work hard at being nice to her and to look for ways that he could include her in his play time. We also discussed what to do if someone is picking on you, (walk away, ask them to stop, tell the teacher…).
We went to bed after Isaac's incident and prayed for my boys to make wise decisions and to love people that are hard to love. The next morning, we kissed Isaac and sent him out to his bus stop. Asher yelled out the door to Isaac as he was walking across the street, "Be nice to Jane!"
I thought it was cute and was glad that he remembered the conversation and took it to heart. After school that day we greeted Isaac as he stepped off of the bus. "Were you nice to Jane today?" Asher asked. Isaac said that they didn't really have any time together and she didn't bother him but he didn't really talk to her.
The pattern continued for days. I said nothing to Isaac at all about the situation, but Asher seemed very concerned about Isaac's school relationships. He kept reminding Isaac to be kind and asking how it went every day after school.
One day that week, Isaac came home and excitedly told us that he had found an opportunity to choose Jane when the teacher asked him to choose the next person to get to write on the smart board. It was something small, but I was so proud of my boy making an effort to change. Asher told Isaac that he was proud of him but didn't stop checking in on Isaac and Jane's relationship.
In the meantime, Asher did not seem to be applying the lesson he was trying to teach Isaac to his own situation. Though he would never touch the kid again, he couldn't stop talking negatively about him. Then we were invited to a play date with John. Asher was very excited to go, but continued even on the way to meet him, to speak negatively about John. I almost pulled a mom moment and pulled the car over to talk with him face to face. I told him that if he was going to continue to speak negatively about John then he couldn't play with him. He promised to stop. And he did. I haven't heard a negative word from Asher in weeks.
Recently we talked about loving your enemies at church. I had forgotten that this was a biblical concept. In Matthew 5:44, Jesus says to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. I opened up my Bible and read the verse to my kids paraphrasing as I read, "Love those who hate you, pray for those who are mean to you." I reminded them that we can pray for John and Jane to 1) be nicer to Isaac and Asher, 2) be surrounded by love and kind people, and 3) for Isaac and Asher to have the strength to always be loving towards them. I asked my kids to pray for their classmates. They both decided to just pray in their heads, but I was in awe of the way my kids were handling these tough situations.
God, give me wisdom as a parent. Sometimes I feel like nothing is getting through to my kids. They still won't clean their room, I can't make Asher finish a healthy meal, and Isaac can't focus long enough to tie a shoe, much less listen to my lectures… But there is hope. Some things are seeping in. May the important lessons of life change these boys and embed themselves deep in their hearts. Remind me that the best advice has already been written out for us in Your Word. Remind me to keep going back to it and teaching it to my kids. God, help me to raise these boys into godly men who love You and others more than themselves. May they continue to help each other through these difficult situations and be there for each other in every turn of life. Thank you for my two boys. Thank you that they have each other and they love each other. Keep that bond strong for the rest of their lives.