It was 3 weeks before 3rd grade was ending when I got the dreaded phone call no one wants. The vice principal called to tell me that Rilyn, almost 9 years old, got punched in the nose by a boy on purpose. When we decided to enroll in public school, we didn’t just enroll our kids, but our family. I am very active in the school, and go up there at least twice a week to help in the classrooms. Rilyn is well-liked at school, and most of the kids know me, having seen me for the past 5 years at the school. Who could of done this?!?
All this to say, initially I was shocked she got punched. Then I remembered that this world we live in is not our home, and many things here are dark and scary.
First thought: “How could someone possibly punch my daughter?” (selfish and angry)
Second thought: tears streamed down my face. I was sad for Rilyn, but I was even sadder when the vice principal asked Rilyn if she wanted to talk to me on the phone and she said no. Rilyn was embarrassed and emotionally hurt.
The VP told me that Rilyn was not badly hurt, no swelling or blood. The incident occurred in the cafeteria, (they sit next to the person who was next to them in the cafeteria line at the tables.) Rilyn was next to this boy (who was a new kid this year, and I had not met him personally yet), and Rilyn was “shushing” him, (she put her finger over her mouth and leaned in to the boy) because lunch was over, and they are to be quiet as they are waiting for their teacher to come pick them up. This boy felt like Rilyn was invading his personal space, so he punched her. The VP told me that this boy would have consequences, his parents would be called, and he wouldn’t be able to participate in any of the end of the year activities.
I hung up knowing Rilyn was safe, and called James to discuss how we were going to handle it when she got home. You feel so hurt for your child, but on the other hand, you don’t know this boy’s situation and what he goes home to each day. We didn’t want Rilyn to play victim when she got home, because I knew she would be getting a lot of that “poor me” treatment from her classmates and teachers. It’s nice to have people that stand up for you, and want to protect you, but it can easily go too far, and we don’t want our kids feeling that false sense of security.
Rilyn got off the bus that afternoon, and I brought her into her room alone. I told her, with compassion, that I was so sorry that happened to her, and asked her if she was feeling any pain. She recounted the whole story again, and told me she was okay, but she was scared. The boy is on her bus, and she was scared that without the protection of teachers, he would strike again. I told Rilyn that Satan wants us to live in fear. He wants her to be scared to come back to school and see him. We prayed through a verse that we had memorized during the school year:
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? (Proverbs 56:3-4) “Lord, help my child not live in fear. You are her protection!”
Then we talked about how she feels about the boy. We talked about how Jesus feels about that boy. We talked about Jesus, who lived a perfect life and did nothing wrong, was nailed to the cross and how He was beaten, spit on, persecuted for Rilyn’s sin, my sin…our sin. And what were some of His last words? Luke 23:34: “And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
I ended our time telling her that “Jesus came to rescue us so that we can live in peace…peace with our creator and peace with each other. This peace with each other requires forgiveness; a forgiveness He gave us on the cross to share with each other. Jesus wants us to forgive the boy who punched you. It’s okay if you don’t feel like it right now. God knows your heart, and you can’t fake forgiveness with Him anyway. But dad and I will pray for you that you will be filled with God’s love and forgiveness, and in turn be moved to share it and forgive him.”
And she did. (And there was no reaction from him she said. He was just quiet, staring at her when she told him she forgave him. Sometimes life isn’t like the movies.)
Thank you Lord for parenting moments like these, although they are hard, they are GOOD because they lift Your name higher!