My kids are a package deal. I have very little patience for kids that want to play with one of my kids and won’t let the others participate. Now, I understand that younger kids can sometimes be a pest (especially little brothers), but I’m not okay with any of my kids excluding another for no reason at all. I always tell them that friends may come and go, but you have your family forever – so you should treat each other with love.
Elena just had the ultimate character test around this principle. She was forced to choose between her friend and her siblings and she chose her siblings. I just finished comforting her as she told me the story in tears. I want to share because I’m so proud of her! She is a pleaser and hates to ruffle any feathers, so I know that what she did was very hard for her.
Let me begin with our shopping trip yesterday afternoon. Elena and Christina were NOT getting along in the back seat. Usually they have fun together, but I noticed that Elena was being a little ruder than usual. I realized that she had been spending a lot of time with one of her friends, and whenever she plays with that friend, she is a little more negative and more rude with her siblings. After I separated the two, Christina suddenly blurted out, “I miss Elena! She and (her friend) wouldn’t play with me and now Elena is mad at me!”
I asked Elena what the deal was. She said she never said anything to which Christina replied, “No! They said that I couldn’t play with them and it hurt my feelings!”
Elena then began to explain the situation. Apparently, her friend said that Christina couldn’t play with them and Elena said nothing. I told Elena that when she said nothing, she was essentially agreeing and was just as wrong. I have been especially passionate about this school of thought since I read The Autobiography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He said, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” After our chat I think she understood that what she did was just as wrong.
Fast forward a couple of hours. I was talking to a friend and she said that her son thought that Elena was mad at him because she wouldn’t play with him. That was when I learned that the situation with Elena wasn’t a solitary incident. Mark and I had another heart to heart chat with her. We tried not to accuse her about the situations, we tried to put her in the shoes of the other person. I told her that her friend was sad and then I asked her how she would feel. She looked at me with her big brown eyes and said, “I would feel terrible!” That was when we knew that she understood.
Skip to today. Today the friend came to the door. I told her that I was not okay with her excluding the other kids. She tried to say that it never happened, but I had 3 witnesses. She agreed and I called Elena. Christina came up to me a little later and said, “Way to go mom. Thanks for standing up for your kids.” I had to chuckle at that comment.
The kids played together well for a couple of hours — and then the drama began. Elena came upstairs to the kitchen where I was baking and was visibly upset. She said that they were playing together on the Wii when the division began. Christina just left frustrated, but Micah was trying to play with Elena and her friend and the friend didn’t want to play with him. Elena said that she stood up for Micah and the friend left mad at her. She started to tear up as she told the story.
Elena hates to make anyone mad, and she was so heartbroken. My heart was hurting for her. I hugged her. She was trying to not cry, but I told her that when something that hurts her this bad happens, it is okay to cry. “Sometimes it is hard to do the right thing, but we need to do it anyway,” I shared with her.
She took a big breath, and kept trying to hold it in. I could tell that she just wanted to burst into tears, but she was trying to be strong. I finished what I was baking and she stared out of the kitchen sliding glass door. Then, she said, “Mom, I have to tell you one more thing…”
I looked at her and she started crying and babbling. I couldn’t understand her between the tears. I sat with her and tried to get her to calm down. Finally, she told me the rest of the story, “When I stood up for Micah, she told me that she didn’t like you, Micah, Isaiah or Christina anymore and then she left.” This, for her, was the most terrible part of the story. She put her arms around me and started to cry non-stop. I could just hug her and assure her that she did the right thing. I think that her friend’s last comment just justified her in her own mind.
I feel really bad for Elena. She is so good at pleasing people. In fact, I am so opposite from being a people pleaser that it really scared me. I was afraid that she would always go with the crowd as long as the crowd consisted of people that she really liked. Now I understand that as a parent I may have enough time to work with her so that she is able to stand up for what is right. Now my job is just to go cheer her up a little.
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke