Several years ago I wrote so many articles about my grandchildren and the many situations we went through. This article is about one of my grandson’s when he was 3 years old. I won’t use his real name because now he is a grown man and I’m not so sure he would give me his permission. So I take it upon myself to share this true story with you.
My grandson looked at me with a face that only a child can make when they are puzzled about something. He said, ‘NaNa, that boy called me a WORD!’
He was so upset and I wished I could take his pain away. It’s hard to explain to a child who is just beginning to communicate the old saying - Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me - is not always true.
And I have learned if there’s any way we could protect our children or grandchildren from the outside world, we would, because the one they must grow up in which is not always sweet and pretty. I remember an old movie about a child who must live in a bubble for his own protection from allergies. That’s would be nice if we could assure no outside forces would harm our children, but as the little bird leaves the nest, so must our children leave home. Most of my grandson’s three years of learning to associate with people outside the family was spent at day care. As I watch him, his big brother, and little sister run into their classrooms every morning, I know a new day has begun and it will involve the process of socialization. The teachers can no more protect them from unkind words anymore than I can. So how do I handle this? I decided to share something I read in a book recently written by the late humorist Erma Bombeck.
“Sweetie, a lady loved to write about her family and this is a story she wrote as a lesson about life. It is about a child who was suffering from a terrible illness.”
A little girl who was sick lost her hair because of a treatment she took to make her well. when someone made fun of her she sad, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can break my heart. So imagine how many people stared at this little girl, and some even called her names and laughed at her. So please be careful what you say to others when you are on the play ground, or in your classroom. Personally, I am always saying something that comes out wrong. I have hurt others with words and I have been hurt by the words of people who probably never even realized it. We are all human and make mistakes.”
“What did the little boy call you?” I asked him.
“He called me a dumb baby. NaNa, I am a BIG BOY! I am not a baby, am I?”
“No, you are a very smart boy. Let me tell you something I learned, Let us be the first to say a friendly word, to smile, to say hello, and if it becomes necessary, you can make the choice to forgive first. I believe that by being nice to others you’ll eventually find a true friend. Someone will come along and you will laugh and have good times. This will make up for the times when you may have felt left out, or lonely.”
“NaNa, my brother said I could hit anyone who makes me cry! Can I hit that boy?”
“My child, if I could teach you anything in the world about having a fight, it would be to solve problems with words and not fists. Just remember they both can hurt!”
As I took my grandchildren home to their mom that evening and watched them jump from my car to the ground, I wished I could take the wisdom of the greatest book ever written and put it in their pockets along with the rocks and other treasures they collect daily! But I’ll have to settle for these bits of conversation when one of them may choose to trust me with their feelings and I will try to give them advice mixed with love, hoping they will store it in their hearts.