A few weeks ago, I started planning a lesson, and I felt inspired to teach it a certain way, with several components, instead of short and sweet, let's have a treat! The lesson topic was about kindness and being a friend. After the lesson, we had a simple activity (Josh's idea) of letting the kids pick a figure to befriend (some had approachable, happy faces, others wore frowns or were crying, etc). After the "friend" was chosen, they were given some background about that person, and then the kids were asked, "How could you be a friend to _____." It was fun and engaging. What happened next was surprising, although it shouldn't be too surprising. Boo and Yaks started talking. Questions and worries and anxieties they had about friends and starting school. It was rapid-fire, I tell you, rapid-fire! Here was a selection of their concerns/worries regarding friends, many of which I'm sure they experienced last year, or worried they would experience this year.
Friend who never lets you have a turn or decide what to play.
Friends who don't want you to play with anyone but them. Feeling stuck in a friendship.
Fear of losing a friend and being "alone".
Fear of being rejected by friends for standing up for someone else or having a different idea.
Fear of being excluded because you don't play something well/don't know how to play something.
We didn't solve all the problems that night, but I was glad I was given a little window into their world. I went to bed with a heavy heart, after getting a glimpse inside of their minds. I found it interesting that my children seem to voice their thoughts well after the song, scripture, lesson, etc. This was "wrapping up" with an activity when we really got to the meat of their concerns.
One child, though she is a dominating, confident personality at home, tends to take a back-seat and lets her friends call the shots, and fears upsetting or disappointing them. She's a fun and nice person, but she really doesn't have any real "friends" in church or at school.
One child, though a happy-go-lucky tease at home, is a good and loyal friend to others, but has deep worries about how to stand up for himself when his heart tells him something a friends tells him to do is wrong or unkind. He worries about being alone.
Last night we were putting kids to bed. *It's funny how bedtime is the time I'm often called upon to be my BEST parenting self when my patience and self-control and stamina are at their WORST.* I quickly went through a list of things we all needed to do tomorrow. After prayers and tucking in, Yaks came back upstairs crying. He couldn't get the words out what was wrong. He couldn't sleep. He couldn't stop thinking. Finally in a burst of thought he said,
"Sometimes life feels too big for me."
Finally able to express his worries: Worried he hasn't done enough math and reading this summer to be ready for 2nd grade. Worried he won't have any friends. Worried his room will take him all day to clean. :) He expressed a wish that he could just stay at home and not go to school. The thoughts of getting all of that done TOMORROW, were just too much for him. It was too big. Sometimes I feel that way. Life is just too big, and I'm too small.
Oh, it hurts so bad to see your kids hurting. First I gave him a hug. Sweet boy. I had him list the books we'd read this summer. He's read four chapter books! Then asked him if he knew how to add, subtract, add double digit numbers and even how to carry. Yes, yes, yes. Then I asked him to list his friends. Asked him if he thought he could find a new friend this year, maybe someone who was new? Then I asked him to give me one job I could do in his room tomorrow after a good night's sleep. He needed help organizing his drawers. Okay. Another prayer. Tuck into bed. Good night.
Again, I went to bed with a heavy heart and a 'mother prayer' for my kids. I don't want them to feel alone and that the world is too big for them! What a horrible way to feel! This year will be an interesting one for me. A reinventing Amy, in a way. With Diddles in school in the mornings, I have each morning virtually free for the first time in eight years! It's up to me how best to use that time: Learn a new skill/hobby? Take a class? Get a little part-time job? Volunteer? Deep-clean my house? The options are many, but I feel like this is an important decision. No matter what I decide, I'm determined that I need to rededicate myself to being more in-tune with the Holy Ghost, and doing those things that matter FIRST. I can't be a truly effective mother without it. I'm grateful for Priesthood blessings that can bless and guard our home and kids. I'm grateful we have a Partner in parenting who knows my kids better than I know them, and better than they know themselves.
Because I can't do it alone.
It's too big for me.