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.