Today I walked my son to his kindergarten class. It was cold and we were huddled together like sardines as we stood outside the door waiting for the bell to ring.
I saw you with your little boy just a few feet from us, and I looked down when I realized you were looking at us. I hoped you didn’t know who we were. I hoped you didn’t know my son was “that kid.” The one who’s not transitioning well in this school year.
I know what the kids say about my son. They go home and tell their parents my kid is bad. Sometimes he pushes and hits. Sometimes he is defiant and refuses to sit down, be quiet, or stay in line.
I know because the kids tell him what they think of him on the playground. “Mark said I’m bad today.” Or “Aiden’s dad said I can’t play with him anymore.” And my heart hurts, because I know he’s struggling in school. And we are working every angle… in school with a specialist, at home, and through classes, books and resources.
Today, you looked at me, then at my son. “You must be K,” you said to my son. And I looked up and smiled sheepishly. It was an apologetic smile. Almost a “I’m sorry you know his name” smile, because that means you’ve heard the stories.
I said to you, “Yes, this is him.”
I whispered when my son stepped away that we are aware he’s causing some trouble and we are working on it. That we take his behavior very seriously.
And then you did something I never expected. I don’t know if I was waiting for you to tell me what you heard K did to your son, or just tell me off. But instead you told me about your older son who struggled with similar problems at this age. You told me that now he’s in high school and he’s a straight A student.
Instead of tearing me down, you lifted me up. You gave me hope. And you handed me an olive branch so I know that I do have an ally during school drop off. An ally I never expected.
You didn’t have to make that connection. You could have ignored us or pretended not to know us. Or yes — you could have told me what you think of my son (you would not be the first). But you didn’t. You showed me grace and kindness and you uplifted me more than I could possibly describe in words.
I told you I would love to learn more about steps you took with your older son. I would love suggestions and guidance and that I would call you. And you know what? I will call you. Even if no suggestions or guidance is ever exchanged. I will call you because you are a friend I want to have. You are a good person.