Tuesday, August 16, 2011


“When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.” Proverbs 16:7

My 8YO started third grade last week. They had their first day of PE yesterday and it was a rousing game of dodge ball between his class and a neighboring class that has PE at the same time. His arch-nemesis, Billy*, is in the other class.

I’ve known about the contention between my son and Billy ever since Kindergarten. Billy is a cute, red-headed, athletic little boy who draws a crowd. My son tried initially to make friends with him, but something went sour. Contempt for him filled the spot where friendship might once have lain. My son really dislikes him, and this is the fourth year for these feelings, so I’m thinking the condition could be permanent without Divine intervention.

Anyway, this morning’s conversation about the dodge ball game went like this:

“Yesterday, during dodge ball, someone from the other class hit me in the leg with a ball and I fell down on my elbow and shoulder on the floor. It was just like concrete, and I had to get an ice pack from the nurse. And then, guess what?! Someone from MY class hit Billy on the leg with the ball, and the SAME thing happened to him! You know what that is? That’s PAYBACK!”

Payback. A new word in his vocabulary.

“That’s payback from last year when one of his guys tripped me and made me fall down.”

I remember.

I remember him coming home mad at Billy (again) because he’d tried once again to play with him on the playground. One of Billy’s cronies had decided not to let my son play for one reason or another and purposely tripped him. The other kid had gotten in trouble and had to sit on the bench. Billy was not directly involved, but my words of advice were the same, “Just stay away from him.”

I tried, once again, to explain to my son that there are some people with whom he will probably never get along. There are some kids who will never be nice to him. There are some people who will always be difficult to deal with. In my opinion, avoidance is better than fighting in a public school setting.

And so today, I tried to explain that even if something like that happens to someone he doesn’t particularly care for, he’s not to laugh or make fun of the person it happened to. I explained that he should treat people the way he wants to be treated, and even though Billy’s group doesn’t always emulate that, he should or else he’s just as bad as he thinks they are.

Nevertheless, today’s conversation on paybacks was an eye-opener that my kid is growing up. Sad to think that building hostility and desire for revenge is my first notable sign of emotional growth, but that’s what it was. I wouldn’t have imagined yesterday that he had a jealous bone in his body; that he held a grudge; that he didn’t forgive. But today’s conversation was a window into the child I obviously don’t know; the one whose feelings on some things are private; the one that he’s growing into despite my best efforts to keep him small and innocent.

It made me painfully aware of my hand in the effort to mold him into a respectable, godly man. Me, with my own grudges, private revenge harborings, and forgiving and forgetting issues. Thankfully there is another hand, hopefully standing between my son and I on issues like these, who is Perfect and Unfailing. HIS hand will guide me. HIS hand will be my strength. And when I fail, hopefully HIS hand will be over my mouth in front of my son!

*Name changed to protect the innocent and to prevent incrimination just in case they eventually decide that they’re best friends.

1 comment:

  1. Hi. Sorry I haven't commented lately. I did enjoy reading this story about your son and 'Billy'. You are so right on in your teaching. I know God will continue helping you.
    Our children are raised and now raising their own. I pray for them every day!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.