Today, I chaperoned a field trip with the Grade 4, 5 & 6’s from my son’s school. Well, we went to Grohmann Narrows, a very cool wetland sanctuary tucked beside the highway to Castlegar. Painted Turtles thrive there, as well as multitudes of funky critters. Salamanders, frogs, dragonflies, snakes, ducks… We saw insects of all manner of creepiness and awesomeness. We listened to our guide, we learned things that amazed all of us, we skimmed the pond and collected samples of water life. We played camouflage tag, we at our lunch in the sun. We all had popsicles brought to us by the school principal. We had fun. These children are so lucky to have a great school like they do. Small, connected, fun.
Except one thing. I watched on the side lines, not involving myself in any form of guidance, parenting or discipline, except when needed, of course, to help the children pay attention instead of horsing around, and only when I knew a teacher wasn’t there to do this instead of me. My role was for fun only, and to escort any kids to the outhouse of they needed to go. (Yep, I was the Go-To Mom if you ever needed to pee!!!)
Have you ever noticed there seems to be one child in every group that stands out? Many times, this child stands out in a socially malnourished way. I have seen some kids display behaviour that people naturally congregate to, and, sadly, sometimes a child will be “that kid” that people naturally dislike. For reasons I cannot put my finger on, but if you pay enough attention to, you will see one or two in every crowd. I have a hard time defining what it could be. Human nature is so fucking confusing and has so many facets, that it is never a definitive description that can capture these oddballs, these societal cast-offs. The nerds, the geeks, the weirdos, the losers, the _______s.
But this one boy, he is a year younger than my son. I have heard a few of the kids talk about this boy, whom I will call “David” for obvious reasons. David is disliked by most children, even my own. Most terribly of all, he is disliked by his step-mother, whom I have had the uncomfortable pleasure of meeting. Right away, the first thing she let me know is that David was a little handful. She was up “to here” with his behavior. Right then and there, she defined him to me as a bad, awful and terrible little boy. At this point, he was 6. Six!!! Six fucking years old, and already he was a little motherfucker, an asshole, if I received the gist of what the step-mom was trying to say.
When I first met David, he approached me with a smile that went ear to ear. He was interested in what I was doing, and was immediately comfortable in asking me questions and informing me of his own passions and desires, likes and dislikes and things that he did on the weekend. I did see, from time to time, inappropriate social behaviors, but nothing that made me cringe. More the opposite, I gently told him a few times, David, we don’t do that, or David, would you like to use a nicer tone? David was exuding love and sweetness, wrapped up in frustration of not being honored and cared for and loved the way he deserved.
I saw today, almost everyone, including my own son, who spoke to him used a exasperated tone. Most times, he was admonished for behaviour that quite frankly, every single kid was displaying at one point or another. Even a teacher who had to get his and 3 other boys attention spoke to him much more roughly than the other children. And what I saw was that he was fulfilling the prophecy laid out before him. That obviously, he was a bad kid, he was the jerk no one wanted to be around. And so, he acted like it. He became more argumentative through the course of the day, leaving his spunky fun-loving self behind. He has obviously heard throughout his life that he is a bad boy. And so, he is working hard at becoming it. In his child way, he is doing what he is told.
But he is SO not. He is just a little boy that craves a mother’s love, a safe and soft place to be, and gentle guidance into becoming a fine young man. He is a little boy with soft brown eyes and a passion for video games and a love of jokes. He is deserving of all that this world can offer to him. In return, can you imagine what he could offer to us? If only some one could extend their hand and love him for who he is.
As the bus drove away, I watched all the kids aboard, laughing, sitting with their friends, being complete goofballs. And in one seat, all by himself, David had his forehead pressed against the window, gazing out into nothing. No smile was on his beautiful little face. Only sadness. And as I saw that, my heart broke for him.