Learning forgiveness from our children

I am delighted to have Anne, from Sugar Bowl Mix, as my guest poster this week on Small Moments Mondays.

Though Anne is a new friend, the more I learn about her, the more I admire her. She’s kind, open, and truly interesting. I’ve liked her from the moment I first met her, but when I read this, from the about page on her blog, I was struck by how wise she is:

“I believe there are many right ways to parent and that every parent must choose the parenting path that fits their life and their child and support others who may have chosen a different path. Because we’re all on this parenting journey together.”

Beautifully, put, Anne!  Thank you so much for sharing your words with us. I’m so honored to have you here.

Learning Forgiveness From Our Children — by Anne

Before I became a mother I always thought the parent was the teacher. At least in the early years. I never expected to learn so much from my young children. I never expected to be taught valuable life lessons.

When Caroline was in second grade she taught me about homophones and this year, in third grade, she taught me about the waning and waxing gibbous moons.

Don’t you know how to spell gibbous, Mommy? G.I.B.B.O.U.S. Gibbous. You’re funny, Mommy.

But far more important than homophones and waning gibbous moons, Caroline taught me that forgiveness is a powerful gift. I began to tune in to her incredible, innate ability to forgive last year, while she laughed at my lack of second grade grammar knowledge.

A troubled boy in Caroline’s class who suffered from oppositional behavior issues, assaulted her numerous times over a period of four months. He pulled her hair, he knocked her down, he punched her in the stomach, he punched her in the face.

She wasn’t the only child the boy assaulted. There were many. He even tripped the Vice-Principal, who slammed her head on the floor, went into shock, and was rushed to the ER.

One of the most difficult things I’ve had to do as a parent is drop Caroline off for school every morning knowing she wasn’t safe. I wrote letters, I was in the Principal’s office, The Vice-Principal’s office, and on the phone to the teacher and the district administration more times than I can count. My daughter has the right to a safe learning environment was met with the boy has more rights under federal law than your daughter.

Eventually, in February, the boy was moved to a special needs class and finally to another school for behaviorally challenged children.

In the midst of my heartbreak over Caroline being assaulted, I tried my hardest to turn this into a learning experience, to find the silver lining. Every time she came home after an incident with the boy, I held her tightly, told her I loved her, and then explained the boy’s brain didn’t work well. That life for him was challenging. That he didn’t know what “no” meant. None of which meant his assaulting her was okay, but all of which meant he needed help. And we should respect his need for help.

Asking for help was always a struggle for Caroline. But every time the boy assaulted her, Caroline told her teacher. Twice, she even went to the Principal’s office to report the incident. This was huge for her. A true milestone. She became friendly with the front office staff. Sometimes she went to visit them after an incident. They hung out with her, humored her and sent her back to class after they’d gotten her to laugh. I kept her home the day after the boy tripped the Vice Principal. A good thing because that day the boy wandered the hallways tossing chairs.

The day the boy left for the other school Caroline ran to greet me at pick-up time. She hugged me hard, pressing her face in to me. Safe in my embrace, she spilled out muffled words.

He can’t punch me anymore. That’s good. He’s going to get help at his new school. That’s good. This school couldn’t help him. I’m glad he’s going to get help. It’s not good to hurt other people, Mama.

At seven years old, with all the tears, the knockdowns, the pain, the fears she had endured during those four months, her thought was about the boy getting the help he needed. She empathized with his need for help. She understood he made mistakes. Mistakes that hurt her. But she also understood she couldn’t expect more of him than he could give.

Her giving heart forgave him.

In that moment, in my arms, her warm breath seeping through my shirt, she experienced the power of forgiveness.

And with her, I did, too.

What have you learned from your children?

Now that you’ve read Anne’s lovely story here, please go over to Sugar Bowl Mix and read Hollywood: A Scene From my Life Before Kids, He Had Me at Dessert, and Thanksgiving Post: This One’s a Troublemaker.

Be sure to follow Anne on Twitter, where she’s every bit as lovely.

27 comments

  1. What a great guest post. Anne, your daughter is remarkable for one so young. Forgiveness seems to get harder and harder when we age. So thank you, for the great reminder.

    My little one teaches me to find joy even in the smallest things. For him, it's holding his hands under running water from the tap. He loves the sensation and is such a joy to watch :-)

  2. Rachel mommyneedsavacation.com

    Lovely! I too have learned forgiveness from my children. It is such an important thing.

  3. Kir thekircorner.com

    Oh my heart, what a beautiful way to learn the lesson of forgiveness and empathy. My heart ached for all your daughter has been through and it ached for the reasons that that little boy acts the way he does, afraid to think about it..but I am so glad that your daughter is safe now and he is ina place that will hopefully help. Thank u so much for sharing this with us, your words really touched me today.

  4. Sherri

    So touching…and sometimes I think we really do learn more from our children than we realize.

    What a horrible thing for her to have had to deal with. But you helped her find that silver lining, stand up for herself, and see that things can happen when you are persistent.

  5. Ash shadesofblueandgreen.com/

    Oh your sweet girl and her smart mama. I have a little more hope for our future. Thank you for that.

  6. Branson

    What a wonderful post. You have a special little girl there, and children really are good little teachers :)

  7. So glad she is safe now; and what a valuable lesson to have learned so young (although terrible circumstances precipitated it…and how awful for you to have to worry about DEFENDING your daughter).

    Embracing perspective and forgiveness is so important in today's world.

    Now she can focus on the loveliness. And you can focus on the love.

  8. THis is such a precious lesson. I'm always amazed at the magnitude and depth of forgiveness in a child's heart! It's awe-inspiring to me. I'm sorry your daughter had to endure that…no child should. But it's so uplifting to hear through a child's heart the genuine concern for another. Amazing!

  9. ksluiter

    i cannot imagine sending my child to a school where he wasn't safe. I also can't imagine having a child who made the school not safe.

    My heart goes out to every single person in this story.

    My son has taught me to not be so hard on myself. Children are a wonder.

  10. sugarbowlmix

    She is remarkable. I was so devastated that she had to experience something so traumatic at such a young age. Forgiving definitely becomes more and more difficult as we get older.

  11. sugarbowlmix

    I'm so glad my words moved you. It was a terrible situation for everyone involved. It was so upsetting for me – it took me a year to find the right way to write about it.

  12. sugarbowlmix

    I've found my children have taught me a lot about myself, the good and the bad. It pays to be persistent was definitely another good lesson learned from this.

  13. sugarbowlmix

    Thank you for your touching, kind words. Giving ourselves and our children hope for the future is worth so very much.

  14. sugarbowlmix

    The whole situation was so appalling on every level. The boy had to fail so many times before he was moved and in the meantime other children, teachers and administration were being traumatized. I moved my children to another school the following year.

  15. sugarbowlmix

    She is a very empathetic girl. More empathetic than her mother, for sure! When I look at her now, a year later, her confidence back, I am so proud of her.

  16. sugarbowlmix

    I moved both my children to a charter school the following year. After that experience I could never send them to a neighborhood public school again. It's a shame. It shouldn't be that way.

  17. blueviolet anutinanutshell.com

    I think kids are more forgiving than adults for sure. That was a great lesson she taught you, but I probably would have hard a very hard time letting go.

  18. liz

    Anne, Caroline's word literally brought tears to my eyes! What a painful yet mature thing to say. I'm so sorry you guys had to endure that, but you are right – that boy needs more help than a traditional school could provide.

  19. She has a true gift. Forgiveness is so hard to learn. The fact that she has mastered it at a young age is wonderful.

  20. sugarbowlmix

    You're very sweet to say that. I try but I think ultimately my daughter has a kinder heart than I do.

  21. sugarbowlmix

    I let my anger at the boy go right away, along with Caroline. But my interactions with the school district and the principal took me a year, until now, to get over. In fact, I'm not sure I'm over it yet! I moved my kids to a different school this past school year. That helped and gave me hope.

  22. sugarbowlmix

    In that moment she was very mature. This past weekend when asked to do something she didn't want to? Anything but mature! LOL.

  23. sugarbowlmix

    I don't know if she's mastered it, but she's definitely figuring it out. But she's got a lead on me. I'm also still figuring it out!

  24. Beautiful! I've learned bravery from my daughter and she is not even five months old!

  25. sugarbowlmix

    Not even five months old -that is impressive. You have me intrigued. I'd love to hear the story!

  26. What a sweet child. I have a lump in my throat reading this. My daughter is still so small, only 4 months. I hope to teach her this kind of empathy.

  27. sugarbowlmix

    She is so so sweet. Thank you. I hope your daughter never has to endure anything like this!

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