Yesterday, while taking my daughter to school, I noticed a child, maybe a second grader, laying on the ground by the main office. I thought he had fallen, or maybe fainted. I didn’t want to be that guy that rushes over there, though, and tries to help when I’m not needed. I’m the other type of guy, who walks to where it’s happening and waits for confirmation that help is needed. So, like a creeper, I crept over and stood close enough that if the child’s mother asked, I could spring into action.
She pleaded with him, “You’ve got to get up! This is no way for you to be acting. You can’t just lay here all day.” And, like some sort of wise, old soul, he replied with, “Well, if I can’t lay here all day, take me home, then.”
Knowing there was no help needed, I left. Throughout the day I’d think about that little boy and his protest. Something had obviously caused him enough distress that he’d rather lay down in front of the entire school, than to get up and go to class.
This morning, I saw him again after dropping off my daughter. This time he didn’t quite make it into the front gate. He lay in front of the school, in front of where the buses dropped off students. He was with his mother again. This time I didn’t veer close enough to hear their conversation, but I imagine it was the same as yesterday’s.
I smiled a little knowing it was another day of protest, but when I got to the car it hit me. A child’s psyche is so fragile. I remember being in elementary school and wanting to just quit. There were those days where the lessons just didn’t make sense, but that wasn’t the reason. It was always a social thing. My friends would decide I had done something to warrant them withdrawing their friendship, or the “cool kids” decided I was no longer “cool” enough to be seen with them, or that girl I had a crush on said I was being ‘childish’ (childish?! I was 7! Technically, that’s all I could be).
As I drove home, I felt empathy for him. I wanted to be his age, to walk up to him this morning and say, “hey, kid, it’s going to be fine. Let’s be friends. I’ll stick with you today and every day. I wanted to share my Handi-Snacks and tell him about the cool stuff I did over the weekend. I wanted to help pick him off the ground and dust him off and say, “That was a funny prank. Let’s go get in line before the bell rings.”
When I got home, I hugged my son. He’s too young to know, but I told him, “I’ve got your back, son. I’ll stick with you today and every day.”