Wednesday, February 6, 2008

What the world needs now... Love

As a parent, I always learn something from my child. I know it's typical for the parent to be the instructor of life. However, my son teaches me by executing the lessons I lecture. There is a young woman (refer to her as Ardel) who has been a real thorn in Man-cub's side for a couple of years. His past teachers did everything possible to keep the two children away from each other. The situation seemed controlled by the second half of 6th grade. I encouraged him to keep in mind that we don't know what Ardel's home life was like. We need to show her compassion and learn to turn the other cheek. Always report incidences to the teachers, but try to remain calm; give her the benefit of the doubt. Consider that she might not have anyone to tuck her in at night or wake her with loving hugs and kisses. Perhaps she hadn't eaten, and realize that we get grumpy when we're hungry and feeling sad.

Man-cub took this advice to heart and tried to show her the same consideration as others had to him. Without delving too deeply, Man-cub was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome in 2nd grade. He is functioning very well with behavior modification and incredibly understanding and well informed educators. He is in mainstream classes and doesn't require meds or resource therapy. Proud Mom alert!

Seventh Grade. Junior High School. Squirrely hormonally charged behavior. Lord give us strength. Everything changed. Ardel's locker is next to his. They have first period together. Let the games begin!

Man-cub hadn't complained about her nor had he told me she was in such close proximity. I assumed she was no longer an issue. The day finally came where he reached his breaking point and told me that Ardel was back to her old tricks. "She keeps slamming my locker shut on me, mom! I have a hard time getting it open. Then, she says mean things to me in the hall and in first period. She makes me so angry! I yelled at her today."

I sent an email to his first period teacher, the administration and anyone I thought might listen. I received an immediate response from the teacher. She informed me that she'd police the interaction between the two children and assured me Ardel's behavior was being monitored and not isolated to just my son. She didn't explain further, but stated that all such incidents were being documented and handled appropriately. She spoke with the kids and reassured Man-cub that he could talk to her about it. Don't feel threatened or fearful in reporting inappropriate behaviors.

Through speaking with a teacher's assistant who worked with Man-cub last year, I learned that my suspicions about Ardel's homelife were, indeed, horrific. She's one of seven children. She and her twin sister were put into foster care when their mother decided she could no longer care for them. She kept the younger children, but willfully turned her back on her twin teen-age daughters. They'd both been shuffled from foster home to foster home. I was saddened and dismayed that this could occur. It was an eye opening experience for me. I let Man-cub in on the information and made him promise not to mention it to Ardel. His actions of compassion toward her were even more important now. His heart broke to learn of her heartwrenching situation.
Each day after telling him, he would report to me his interaction with Ardel. He said he made an effort to keep his locker door from blocking her locker. He'd go out of his way to say hello, good morning, have a nice day and compliment her when appropriate. He'd tell me when he'd get frustrated with her and let his frustration show ...directing it at Ardel.

Christmas rolled around. He asked if we might buy Ardel a small, but special gift. "I want her to know she's special." Instead, he had free time in class. He used this time to make Ardel a Christmas card and wrote a note of apology expressing his remorse for having yelled at her. The week before Christmas break Ardel wasn't attending school. Man-cub wasn't sure why she was absent, but his thoughts turned to curiosity over her foster care. "Do you think she had to go to another home? Is she all right? What should I do?" I advised him to talk to his first period teacher. "It's okay to let her know you what you're privy to about Ardel."

So, he asked privately. She told him, without divulging too much, that Ardel had been suspended, but would return two days before Christmas break. We discussed the possibility that she might not receive his Christmas card well. However, I told him that she might privately cherish the card. In due time, she may appreciate his gesture even if she never shows it. I convinced him that even the grandest gestures seem to go unnoticed, but they can be life changing to the receiver. I suggested he slip the card into her locker or have his teacher deliver it. That way, Ardel doesn't feel obligated to react nor feel embarrassed. He put it in her locker and nothing was said again ...

On Thursday, January 31, Man-cub reported that a boy was picking on him. "He was being a real jerk to me." What came next surprised him. The following taught my son and myself that one good deed does not go unnoticed. "Mom! You won't believe this, but Ardel stuck up for me! She told the kid to leave me alone and to stop picking on me! Mom, you were right. I was nice to her even though she seemed to hate me. And now she's nice to me! Can you believe she stuck up for me?!" I fought back the tears. We rejoiced that The Golden Rule does work. Praise God.

1 comment:

  1. Great, great story. You and Man-cub make a wonderful team.

    And you have EVERY reason to be a proud mom ;-)


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