For several months, my family has been dealing with some precious snowflakes who seem to have made it their life’s work to make my children’s lives miserable. They haven’t been as successful as they (and admittedly I) have thought. After some concerning situations, I had a long and eye-opening talk with Max, and I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of not only his heart, but his wisdom.
When it started Max was blissfully unaware of what was going on between him and these precious snowflakes. I, however, was all too aware of what was going on. With Max’s ADHD, he is behind a bit on his social skills, and therefore didn’t notice the bullying behaviors his “friends” were engaged in towards him. A catchphrase of, “Fine, I’m not going to be your friend anymore!!” Was a daily, constant echo, when these precious snowflakes were outside. “Get me your guns to play with”, another echo. “These toys suck” and “You can’t play with us”, were also in the mix, not to mention being ignored, isolated, shunned and harassed. Now, any of these, in any combination, would be a common, experience for every kid growing up, however, when they ALL happen, EVERYDAY, and are said by the same precious snowflakes, it becomes more than just an ordinary experience.
At first, since it wasn’t bothering Max, it was ignored. As we had other things we were working on as a family and things we were helping Max to improve as well. We didn’t want to fail at the techniques that his Behavioral Therapist, Dr. L, had given us, so since it didn’t seem to be a huge concern at the moment, we left it be. However, after nearly 2 months, of this junk behavior towards Max, I felt complicit in him being bullied, because I knew what was going on. I heard it, I saw it, and I was doing nothing. I was being a bystander. So, we started talking to Max about what good friends do, vs what bad friends do. How to stick up for himself, by telling his friends when they are hurting his feelings or being disrespectful. I was even telling the precious little snowflakes MYSELF that they were being mean and rude. (Although in the end that didn’t work) And I was happy that I was giving him the tools to making Real Friends.
Unfortunately, some precious snowflakes didn’t feel like treating Max with respect and instead of becoming more kind to him, the opposite happened. These precious snowflakes actually seemed MAD that Max was now sticking up for himself. So, things got worse. The new catchphrase became, “If you play with Max, I won’t be your friend anymore!!” and the precious snowflakes would follow Max around, no matter where he went or what he was doing, the precious snowflakes would just “happen” to be close enough to not directly tease Max, but to talk loud enough to other kids and say things like, “Yeah that is Max and he is a loser” (sometimes more colorful words were used). Our area, is big enough where precious snowflakes could play, far away from Max, where he wouldn’t have to hear or see them, but by some crazy circumstance (lack of manners and proper parental involvement) precious snowflakes would always be visible and made sure to be heard.
And so it has gone on, some days, nothing happens. Max is able to go outside and enjoy being a kid. While other days, he is followed around, threats are bandied about like they are just harmless words that mean nothing and are treated by some as “boys being boys”, and he has to come inside, like HE is the one in the wrong. And basically nothing can be done to stop it, since no physical attacks have actually happened. Hopefully since the precious snowflakes know that I am watching, and that they have my undivided attention. (I’m a stay at home mom with 24 HOURS on my hands. Dishes can wait until after bed time, so that I can make my constant, undying presence known to the precious snowflakes because I know they will give me a chance to catch them, they cannot help it.) I’m hoping it will all fade away and they will find something more productive to do. Take up a nice hobby. Join a sports team. Do.Something.Else.
The conversation I was able to have with Max was eye opening. I wanted to make sure that he didn’t believe the things the precious snowflakes were saying about him and that there wasn’t anything wrong with what he was doing. That he was doing his very best in trying to treat these precious snowflakes as he would like to be treated. I told him that he has good friends, who think he is pretty awesome and that love to share what he finds interesting, and that he has many family members who feel the same way. And as he sat there, thinking about all I had said, he simply says, “I’m not sad for me, I’m sad for ‘the precious snowflakes’. They must be really sad and all they need is somebody to help them not be sad any more.” I sat there, stunned. The #1 rule in our house is, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” I tell him, that if he isn’t sure which choice is the best choice, that using that rule, will help him make the best choice. We’ve talked over and over about why bullies do mean things, and that is has nothing to do with Max, but that there is something going on with the bullies and that they need some extra niceness in their lives. I was stunned because as a child with ADHD, empathy and emotions and thinking of others is thought of as something (although not enough research has been done to prove this theory) that won’t come naturally to him. But, since we’ve made it a very central part of our parenting, something that gets said often, something Bill and I try and model ourselves (admittedly we do fail sometimes, but when we do, we don’t shy away from admitting to our kids that what we did was wrong, and explaining how better we could have handled the situation), we have unknowingly given Max (and of course Rory) a head start with dealing with empathy and emotions. In that moment, I no longer saw him as a victim, because he isn’t. And even though I’m still going to worry about him, right now, these precious little snowflakes, have not damaged him, have not changed him, have not wrecked him. My just shy of being 7 year old, is a wise, wise boy. I don’t think there is an end to his wisdom nor his heart. I can’t wait for all of the things I’m going to learn from him, and all of the love that is going to be brought into my life because of this little guy.
As Biggie and Puffy said back in the day:
“Can’t nobody take my pride, can’t nobody hold me down oh no
I got to keep on movin’”