If I could just be Atlas.
I’m giving you a break from all the cooking that’s been going on. Because I have just got to rant. That’s a good enough excuse to take a break because as you’ve seen in the beautiful movie “Chocolat” — every rambling of your heart affects the outcome of your cooking. And so, before I indulge myself in this weekend’s cookfest, let me vent a mother’s vent.
My almost-6-year-old boy always came home in high spirits, chanting silly (with almost brown lyrics!) songs that he and his bus mates created during their bus ride home. It used to make me wonder if he enjoyed riding the school bus more than school itself. But like all good things, all this fun and hoopla came to an end.
Since about three weeks ago, our bedtime stories and prayers always ended up in sad accounts of the now-transformed bus atmosphere. It seems that his partner-in-crime, let’s call him Tony, has had a change of heart. He has found a new friend and has left my son alone, dejected, and isolated. In his last waking hours, my sweet little boy stumps me with questions such as, “Why does Tony not want to be my friend, mom?”
Apparently, a new boy came to join the school bus group, and when my little boy befriended the new one, Tony felt suddenly unsure of himself. So he maneuvered a divide-and-conquer strategy and pulled the new guy to his camp, and left my little one alone in the battle field. That, of course, is my jaded — but nevertheless street-wise — analysis. Ending? Tony lords the school bus with his new pawn beside him — and my little one is lonely after losing a dear mate.
One trip home, Tony pulled my boy’s hat from his head and started passing it around to all the other bus mates — teasing (to me, bullying!) my poor boy. I could almost imagine MB trying to reach for his hat, his tears probably welling up in his eyes. I was red with anger when I heard this, smoke coming out of my ears. I told my husband (who always brings my son to his morning bus pick-up) to have a word with Tony the next morning. But my husband, being my very modest husband, simply went up the bus and said with a smile on his face, “Now you kids all be good today, OK?” And that was it.
I would have done much more than that, obviously. Something short of pulling someone by his shirt collar and whacking him with a broom stick. Or maybe even a rolling pin, in my case!
My heart bleeds. How does a mother stop herself from interfering in these petty quarrels without robbing her child of the learning experience? How does a mother bear watching her child get hurt in order to grow a little? How do you teach a child not to physically kick a boy who looks like he deserves it anyway? How can you convince your child that it is Tony’s loss, and not HIS? Dit-moi! (Tell me!)
I wish I could carry my child on my shoulders and protect him from the world and all its woes, without ever having to shrug my shoulders. Just like Atlas.