“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Whoever came up with this saying must not have been a teenager at any point in their life and certainly didn’t raise one. I still remember names I was called and rumors that were spread about me as a teen. It’s an age where you are trying to find out who you are, and when people put negatives into your head, you start to believe them. I am a different person than I was in high school, but why can’t I shake those labels? Why don’t I have excellent advice to give my sons?
My 17 year old son also has labels put on him and rumors spread. With social media, peers are able to message ladies to “warn her” about him and fill her with lies before he even gets to know her. They stalk where you are, who you’ve added to Snapchat or Instagram, and bad mouth anything you post. I know the pain of feeling alone and yet I don’t have the words to comfort him.
My 13 year old gets called “gay” and “pimp” because he wears suit coats to school. While I would love him regardless of if he’s gay or straight, I’m quite certain he isn’t a pimp (since he didn’t know what it even meant). Kids in his church group even pick on him and he has stuff thrown at him at school. I don’t know how to explain these things to a kid who got a kindness award and gets A’s.
It’s not a journey I wanted my kids to take. It’s not a lesson I wanted them to learn. It’s not something I was prepared to re-live. I can’t “mama bear” protect them and yell at these kids. I can’t fight their battles for them. And now we’ve changed to “distance learning,” where their online presence is all that is seen. Does this make it better or worse? Plenty of adults have hurtful things to say online too. Would they say them in person? To your face? Not sure. It’s honestly one of the things that has delayed my book writing… fear of rejection, of being seen, of putting my heart out there and being told it wasn’t good enough.
While other moms are using this time to create cute time capsules, or learn something new, or make lasting memories, I’m just getting by. We are watching movies at night and all working on computers during the day. We have home cooked meals and sack lunches from school. I’m not going to lose 50 lbs or get my book written during this time. I cleaned out my refrigerator door over the weekend and I was pretty proud of myself. My house isn’t spotless (partially because I know nobody is coming over). But hopefully, through all of this, my kids will know they are loved.
When I was looking to take a picture of actual “sticks and stones,” I ended up placing them in the shape of a cross. I didn’t realize it at first. This seems fitting since last Sunday was Palm Sunday and this Sunday is Easter. Jesus dealt with sticks and stones, palm branches and praises, thorns and nails. He sees our hurting hearts, and just like my momma bear instincts, he wants to make it better. Sometimes we have to go through the difficult stuff to come out stronger on the other side.
Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Stay home if you can, wash your hands, stay 6 feet away, don’t touch your face, and be a kind human. Don’t judge the person at the grocery store or the person online- “keep your eyes on your own paper.” We are all in uncharted territory, and you are enough!