The Day My Son Got Bullied
A couple of weeks ago, my son got bullied. I took my kids to a bounce house playground. It’s essentially a warehouse with lots of bounce houses—perfect for young kids. For several hours, my kids played, laughed, and had a blast. My son is the older of our two children and he is big for his age. Most people, mistakenly, think he is older. He is strong, sensitive, and almost always tells the truth, even when he knows he’s going to get in trouble. As he and his sister went in different directions, I began going back and forth watching them. As it came time to leave, I gathered my daughter and went to over to get my son. He was walking towards me—crying. I noticed two bigger boys also leaving the area my son was walking from, but didn’t think anything of it at the time.
I took him out to the car so he could calm down. It took a while for him to settle down enough to talk. Without going into detail, my son and two other (bigger) boys had a disagreement. They began calling him names and pushing him. My son fought back a little bit; but, eventually, they threw him to the ground and congratulated one another. That’s when my son came to me—humiliated and hurt. Right or wrong, this is what I did next.
First, I didn’t speak to the other parent(s) about it. Maybe I should have. But, at the time, I just wanted to get my son away. I also don’t know if it would have been good for him at that point. So I took him home. While we were driving home, I spoke to him about several things. Hoping to teach him how to avoid situations like that in the future, I talked to him about the right ways to resolve conflict. Then I hit him with knowing when to fight and when to walk away. Basically, I lectured him which makes me ashamed of myself. It was the last thing he needed. A humiliating experience followed by his dad telling him how wrong he had handled it. Fortunately, that thought occurred to me when I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw him staring blankly out the window. I stopped talking, and we rode in silence until we got home.
When we pulled into the driveway, I turned back to him, put my hand on his leg, and finally said, “I’m sorry that happened to you.” He looked at me for a second, looked down, and then began to cry. Then I took him out of the car, hugged him for a long time, and told him I loved him.
The Conversation That Really Mattered
Later that night as I tucked him into bed, he asked me if I could lay down with him. As we were laying there, we talked about the day and what happened. I asked him if he ever made anything that made him proud. He told me that he loved a certain thing he made with LEGOs because of how cool it looked. Then I told him that when God made him, he stepped back and knew he had made someone amazing. I told my son that whatever feelings of accomplishment he had when he looked at his LEGO creation paled in comparison to how God felt when He looked at him. I finished by saying, “God thinks you are extraordinary and so do I.” Then he rolled toward me, smiled, put his head in my chest, and fell peacefully asleep.
Being bullied caused his self-worth to take a hit, and it needed to be restored. This isolated incident is nothing compared to what many kids go through who are tortured daily and have their sense of value ripped to shreds. I hope this never happens to my son again but it might. And next time it could be a lot worse. I know I can’t always be there to fully protect him from these things. The best I can do is prepare him to defend himself not only physically, but emotionally. I know his true value and reinforce it as much as I can. My hope and prayer is that he knows it and never forgets it.
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Sound off: What would you have said or done?