Lessons from history

Never quite saw it this way before

Me looking at me shaking my head

The child of today’s inspiration shall remain nameless, number and genderless. :)  I have been in a tizzy these past few days trying to figure out how exactly to get through to said child. Rather dramatic have been the horrified wringings of my heart and hands. My child has been mean and spiteful to another child on a number of different occasions. I have accepted that my children are not angelic enough at school to warrant the unceasing praise of their teachers. We deal with creative crimes as they are discovered. What I can’t and won’t tolerate is being cruel to others. Such have been the agonies of my, “how do I parent this child,” mentality.

One of the things I hold on to is the belief that when you look for answers, you find them. It’s not an original idea. It feels personal because the truth of it has been so dependable for me.

I was guessing the answer fell somewhere in the way of the right firm consequence, words tender and wise enough to stir remorse, or an idea for restitution. I did my best at all of these. My troubled heart remained. Surely there was something more to do… The fever pitch of my worries gnawed at me.

I remembered my sadness when a girl in my grade three class was teased for her clothes. Now my own child was hurting other. While I waited for the answer, the following memories came to say hello.

Age 8:  I tell my brother I have a surprise for him. I refuse to give it to him unless he closes his eyes and opens his mouth. He questions me. I am offended that he doesn’t want my gift. He closes his eyes and opens his mouth. I put a worm in his mouth.

Age 11: We watch a movie at church called, “The Cross and the Switchblade.” It’s about a man who goes to NYC to help kids caught up in drugs and gangs. At the end, the kids find Jesus. My friends and I love the movie so much that we decide to start a gang.

Gang activity one: Chase children visiting in the neighborhood out of the field we don’t own. Throw rocks and them and tell them not to come back.

Gang activity two: Capture young neighbour boy named Toby. Tie him to a tree and dance around him informing him of the power of our gang.

More memories did not seem needed. In the ensuing silence in my head, it was hard to avoid the following realizations: My child was not a write off in the compassion department. I was hardly a paragon of sweetness and light as a child. My offspring had been unpleasantly human not irreparably demonic.

Is it disturbing to know that remembering my life as a gang member left me ultimately hopeful and happy?



9 Comments to Lessons from history

  1. Samuel Jones says:

    Best worm I have ever eaten…. PS I got over it. Love you have a great day!

  2. Sally says:

    How did I not know about the gang !

    • Michelle says:

      I’m surprised we didn’t tell you . . . but then again, telling an adult might not have been a thuggish enough thing to do. Memories are funny in that I have no way of knowing from this vantage point if we kept it up for days, weeks, or months. I just remember my fascination with forming a gang and trying to figure out what gang like activities we should be doing.

  3. Leslie Lynch says:

    Made me laugh – again! We are ALL works in progress. :-)

    Reminds me of the time when I was in junior high and tried to ‘rescue’ a cat from the bath-house of the city swimming pool. In the winter. (I’m pretty sure the statute of limitations is well past….) Anyway, when my conscience got to me and I tried to accept responsibility, the caretaker went on a rant about how the kids who trashed the place (I didn’t mean to!) were going to end up in the state juvenile detention system. I got real quiet and slunk away. I’ve grown up to be moderately more law-abiding!

    Between gang activities and criminal trespass/vandalism, we’ve come a long way, Michelle!!!

  4. Abby Savoie says:

    I remember watching that movie at the church. Was I a member of that gang? I remember one time Nate had a wild idea to “beat you up” and we put those prickly things in your hair. I still feel bad to this day for doing that to you. Sorry!:( I did some pretty mean things as a kid, but I grew out of it, and even take up for the under dog today. It takes a long time to train kids because we train them in every area of their lives. It takes consistency and determination. I’m with you…I tolerate no cruelness to others. Not only are my girls expected to never participate in teasing but they are expected to defend the victim and hold the appropriate people accountable in a wrong situation.

    • Michelle says:

      This is the best news of the week! I’m so happy if you beat me up. I don’t remember it – I only remember the mean things I did. It sound positively refreshing to think I got what I had coming at least once. And very funny to me that the gang which looms so large in my memory (of course you were there – who else did I play with?) isn’t even on your memory list. (And I’m with you on expectation for kids. They have to be taught it, but they can and should learn the empathy and compassion that ultimately make us human.)

  5. Abby Savoie says:

    You didn’t deserve it! That’s why I have always felt so bad for it. You were a nice kid and mature well beyond your years back then. Nate needs to get on here and apologize as well…hahaha!