Monday, April 8, 2019

Superheroes Are Good For the Soul

It's that time of year where summer break is so close you can almost taste it. The kids feel it, the parents feel it and I've got to imagine the teachers do too. That being said, I recently chalked up less than enthusiastic behavior toward school to that very notion. I thought my kids were just feeling burnt out and ready to be done. I was wrong.

Tensions have been running relatively high here for the past few weeks. Its just a crazy time of year. Constant running around, tons of school activities, projects, recital preparation. Which add up to late bedtimes and cranky kids. Kids to be honest that have been driving me so insane with the constant fighting, whining and competition of every last God forsaken thing (right down to who I will sit next to at dinner, while reading or at the movies) that I literally count the minutes till bedtime on most nights.

This weekend however was a little different. For the most part we all got along, there was minimal fighting and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Which is why I was surprised when I was making the rounds tucking everyone in, one started with the "mom my stomach is hurting". On a Sunday night when said child has been fine ALL Weekend, right up to ten minutes before bed, it's a classic sign of "I'm already making my case to stay home from school tomorrow". So I responded that I was sorry to hear that and I was sure a goodnight of sleep would take care of the problem and she would feel much better in the morning. She then asked if I could lay with her for a little bit. My first reaction was honestly to say no. I had things I wanted to get done, I was tired and honestly I didn't want to ruin a nice weekend, by fighting about the fact, she was going to school tomorrow.  However I also realized I probably had a limited amount of time left in which she was going to ask for this, so I acquiesced.

After laying there for a few minutes I asked, is there a reason why you don't want to go to school? At first she towed the line of legit upset stomach. So I prodded a little more, making the case she was fine all day and evening. I was met with silence. So I tried again, asking "are you just tired"? "Are you worried about the tests coming up"? "Are you having a problem with someone at school"? There was the tiniest bit of raised eyebrows which told me that I had hit the nail on the head, but she was not verbally confirming. This is one of the hardest moments I have as a parent. If you push too much, they will shut down and you get zero info. However at this point you know something is wrong and they want to talk about it but are also conflicted. So I waited. After a few moments, she began to talk. At recess there were boys who have started to single out girls and call them names like asshole or dick and the piece de resistance, ugly. My first impulse was I'm going to find these 10 year old turds and drop kick their asses.  Knowing that was not a viable option,  I asked two questions. First, "do you think you are ugly"? She answered with no. Second, "do you honestly care what they think"? She answered this too with a no, however there was a caveat. She said, "mom, I really don't care what they think, but some of the girls do and it really upsets them". Then she relays that there is a girl that they are particularly hard on. This is a girl that she really does not like, however she felt so bad for this girl that she defended her. That action caused the boys to say meaner things to my daughter. She said, "I don't regret sticking up for her, but I'm so tired of this".  Honestly I felt a little at a loss. I was racking my brain for anything I could say that could make a difference. My first attempt failed miserably. I tried pulling someone out of history that made a difference. I landed on Lincoln. I said when Lincoln was a boy he made choices to defend things/people he believed were being treated unfairly even knowing his actions might cause himself trouble.  She responded that he was also a trouble maker, when he was a kid. Not the reaction I expected, so I knew I needed something more solid.  Then it hit me, I knew a language I could speak that she would respond to. It is not a secret that the Kellys are major (understatement of the year) fans of Superheroes. So I went with that. I said you know what this feels like to me? It feels like the part of a Superhero origin story. She kind of looked at me like I had gone bonkers. But I knew I was on to something. So I said, no think about it. Before Captain America was Cap, he was Steve Rodgers. Good guy, big heart, constantly getting picked on. However it never stopped him from doing the right thing EVEN if it was the hard choice. I ticked off a few more examples, Peter Parker, Clark Kent both endlessly teased but both heroes. While I'm talking it dawns on me, maybe she already on some level knows this. Feels this. We watch these types of movies constantly and she has taken to actually reading the comics. So I end with telling her that I am insanely proud of her. That it takes a special type of person to stand up for someone, knowing that it will bring more trouble onto herself. I told her, it might not feel like it now, but this is the stuff leaders are made of. I told her to remember in the end, the Superheroes usually end up kicking the villains asses. This got a big chuckle, so I kissed her goodnight and told her never stop being her. She is my hero.

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