My son had a concert tonight.
He was so excited about his performance. He wanted to look his best. He decided he wanted to wear his bow tie and suspenders (the outfit he wore at Bethany's wedding, minus the fedora).
I double checked, "Are you sure buddy?" "Yes, mom. And everyone will notice how handsome I look. And maybe Emily will notice too."
So I helped him get dressed and off he went to the performance.
I arrived just at start time. Canon waved at me. He did a great job; he looked fantastic. What a fun night....
Afterward, Canon came up to me and I could tell something was wrong. "Are you ok?" I asked. "Mom, everyone saw my suspenders and bow tie and they all laughed at me".
He fell into my arms. He held on tight trying to hold back his tears.
I could feel anger welling up inside of me. I wanted to go kick the shins of every third grader in the room. At the very least, I wanted to go jump up on stage and soapbox about individuality and unique expression, about community and bullying, blah blah blah.
Instead, I took his face in my hands and said, "I'm so sorry buddy. Let's go home".
I have been pondering:
1. What is a healthy response to something like this?
2. How do I turn this into a teaching moment for my kids?
3. Why is the incident affecting me in such a raw way?
One person said, "Well, they have to learn sometime". Learn what? How to conform to the opinions of peers? Why do they have to learn that? I don't see the logic.
Creighton took Canon for some ice cream and he seemed to be ok when he got home.
As I tucked the kids in I opened the experience up for discussion. We talked about how it feels to be laughed at. We talked about how to be a leader when we see people laughing at a classmate or friend.
I encouraged them (and reminded myself) that the opinions of others do not define who we are. Nothing can change the fact that we are cherished and unique.
We prayed and thanked God that we are his creation, he gave us life and we belong to him. We asked him to help us learn from this and to give us wisdom when situations like this arise.