Not too long ago, we were going though a rough patch with Quinn. He is half way through Kindergarten and is a smart, articulate, confident, outspoken boy. He has a TON of personality and enough words in a day to match. He is a character and on most days, I really appreciate 100% of who God has uniquely created him to be.
All of which made his behavior rather disturbing right around Thanksgiving. His fuse was extremely short. He would fly off the handle if I or his brother or sister even looked at him funny. He became even more possessive of his *stuff.* He would go from 0-60 into tantrum mode at the drop of a hat. Life was obviously not fun for him and was becoming miserable for the rest of us. He started saying things to me like, "I wish I wasn't part of this family." "I don't like you." "You are so mean." When I would ask him about his day or if anything was bothering him, he would answer by shoving me away or "Why do you have to know everything?!"
I began considering if I should take him to see a counselor. I even contacted the International Adoption Clinic at a nearby Children's Hospital. It was near the holidays and things never really took off down that direction. Then, one day, right before school let out for Christmas break, Olivia came home from school, very concerned. She wanted to talk to me in private.
She told me about how that morning as the kids were walking into school, a boy from Quinn's class began picking on him. Olivia marched up to the boy and said, "This is my brother! You are not allowed to talk to him like that." The boy apparently responded, "I don't care if he is your brother, I'm going to beat him up."
She was understandably upset. When she finished telling me about the morning, I pulled Quinn aside and asked him about what had happened. He crumpled into a heap and began to sob. As it turns out, this boy, who is in his class, has been picking on him, calling him names and even pushing him down on the playground for months. I hugged him in my arms and the tears began to run down my face. I volunteer 8 hours a week at my kids' school and had no idea. I believe one of the reasons Quinn was so angry with me was for not knowing and not protecting him. While I realize I can not be everywhere and I can't read his mind, it seemed the reason for his poor behavior came into focus.
The next day, Olivia got a hall pass from her teacher, went to Quinn's room and asked for a private conversation with Quinn's teacher so that she could tell her about Quinn's classmate and the bullying that had been going on. I have never been so proud of my kids. This little girl of mine stood up for her brother and was part of the solution to bullying. That afternoon when Quinn came home, he told me all about how his teacher had talked with his classmate. Quinn had a smile of relief on his face and for the first time in months, told me he had a good day at school.
Last week at the Y, my kids were playing in the childcare room. They love the Y. They have literally grown up there. When I picked them up, Olivia was upset. The workers told me there had been an incident with another child while they were playing. A little girl had told Quinn to, "Go away you China person." When I asked Quinn about this and how it made him feel, for the first time ever he was able to put his feelings into words. He told me it made him feel mad. When I asked him what he did when he felt mad he said, "I just walked away, like I'm suppose to." He then went on to tell me that this same thing has happened to him before, at church.
I know I should not be surprised. I know Quinn will face racism and questions and opinions as he goes through life being of Chinese descent in a family of Polish people. It's not that I think my kids are above making comments to those who look different. It's not that I am surprised anybody would have sin in their heart against another person. I do all the time. It's just that I want to protect my kids from hard stuff. I don't want them to face the cruelty of the world. At least not yet.
Yet, at the same time... there are lessons to be learned. Grace to be applied. Conversations to be had. This whole parenting thing is hard work. It is downright exhausting. It's also the best gig I've ever had. Please pray I don't screw it up too bad!