Angels and demons are out there. And in this context, I don’t mean that in a spiritual sense. Angels are the people in our lives who have supported, rescued, stepped in, reached out, and caused miracles to happen for our children. And most have no idea of the impact they’ve made. Even their small acts of kindness have a magical, transformative powers.
Demons are those who have no clue (or do they?) of the damage that their words or actions cause. They are insensitive and careless about what they say and how they interact with others. And when they encounter fragile souls, the emotional pain they bring about can last a lifetime.
Today, I’d like to share a story about one of our demons, the mom who shared her “proud” moment.
From kindergarten through 5th grade, Jonathan was at a small private school that had one class per grade. I grew up in Orange, California and at that time, it was one of the fastest growing cities in the nation. My elementary, junior high and high schools were big and it was difficult for me because I was such a late bloomer and really very shy. So when I had kids, I thought sending them to a small school would help them feel a part of a community and they’d have their best chance for growing and building their self esteem.
My mistake. Small isn’t always an open arms and welcoming environment. If you’re “different,” you tend to stand out even more and often experience small mindedness and intolerance. It can also be what I had envisioned…but in our case it was not.
Jonathan was just too unique (and awesome) to fit in with the other children in his class. They couldn’t dial into his incredible imagination or were interested in engaging in his kind of play. He was rarely invited to play dates or birthday parties, but there were two boys who would include Jonathan in their playground activities or pick him for their team projects…very sweet boys who I have no doubt grew up to be kind, compassionate men.
One of the boy’s mother was a very popular parent…someone the other moms and the school administration admired. She was quite influential on the campus and her “moms-night-outs” were legendary. We were friends…not “besties” but we did do some socializing. We were both working hot lunch one day and in the course of conversation she said, “I am so proud of Tim (name changed).” I said, “Oh, for any reason in particular?”
She said that she was proud that her Tim was one of the boys who went out of his way to be a “friend” to Jonathan. I looked at her in her perfect outfit, with her perfectly styled hair and meticulously applied make-up and thought how ugly she really was. Did she even think about how I would interpret such a comment? How about…her boy is so a-ma-zing because he’s one of the only students who befriended the class oddball…really? She had no clue how her words of praise for her son were so painful to hear.
I never called her on it (probably should have, but I’m not sure she would have understood). I just agreed that she should be proud of her Tim and let it be. I knew that Jonathan was leaving this school for one where his differences would be embraced and he wouldn’t need the pity friendship this mom was so proud of.
Reflecting on the memory, it makes me wonder if I have been careless with my words. Did I neglect to consider how I might be interpreted? Am I the “demon” in someone else’s memories?
Read about one of our angels in the Garden Hose Concern.