Sunday, January 19, 2014

I Trusted My Gut

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I remember this day when John was quite small, maybe nine years old. He and I were at a park waiting for Elizabeth to do something with a local theater group. He and I had about three hours to kill and we were fully enjoying the amazing autumn day. 

It was a Saturday afternoon so the park was pretty busy with groups of kids and families. He and I had already walked this beautiful pathway through the wooded area behind the park and were heading to the playground. He was feeling pretty cool in his black clothing and his red headband with the parts that hung down in the back. The red headband was just a piece of nylon material about a yard long.

John decided to get on the swings. Another boy about his age was already on the swings and swinging quite high so I sat back a little way away so that the boys could swing together. I overheard their conversation. It went something like this:

Boy:  What's that thing on your head?
John:  It's my headband.
Boy:  Why are you wearing it?
JohnBecause I am a ninja.

The other boy leaped off of the swing and ran over to some other boys on a climbing structure just yards away. There was some whispering and laughing and pretty soon we heard some kids saying Ninja Freak! under their breath, then louder.  Then quite loud.

My heart slammed into my chest as I watched my son hear these taunts. I fought my strong urge to rush in, say something to the boys, and swoop my son away. Instead, I moved to the swing and started swinging slowly. His swing started slowing down as the smile left his face.

Mom, he said, I think that those boys are making fun of me. But I don't feel bad. Instead I feel stronger.

My beautiful boy left the swing and headed straight for the climbing structure where the teasing kids were standing in a group. He climbed up and started hanging upside down, doing his cool tricks. Eventually the oldest boy of the group asked John how he could possibly be a ninja. John replies:  In my imagination!

That older boy, the leader of this little posse, looks at John John and asks How are you a ninja in your imagination?  John, hanging upside down from the bars, red head band brushing the ground, looks at me with a curious look on his face and asks What? Do these kids not know what an imagination is?

There was more. But the best part came later in the car when John said, You know, Mom, I feel sorry for the kids who have to go to school with that kid. I'll bet that that is just what a bully looks like. Hey! I saw my first bully today!

I often think of that moment. Every Mommy Fiber of my being wanted to kick some playground butt. But instead I watched my son, waiting to see what he needed me to do. what he needed himself to do. I'm proud of both of us when I think of that day. Proud of John for being so emotionally mature and proud of myself for not saving him, for allowing him to handle things himself, for letting him learn about himself and others. We also learned just how strong it is to be non-violent in a potentially violent situation.

We both came out of the experience wiser people.

If you enjoyed this post you might also read: 
Did it Right Today
Or this one:  Ninja Freak


  1. Hi Karen - just found your blog! Loved this post - how proud you must be of your boy! And what a brilliant learning moment for both you!

    1. I actually learn so much from him! When I told one of my SWEETEST friends about this incident she kept saying "I would have..." all things ending in an outburst of anger. But here, I was very aware of him, keenly watching and listening, and he totally blew me away.



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