Life with a 6 year old is hard. It’s a hard age. They have left the security of their home to venture into the life of school. Children spend a lot of time in school away from their parents, their siblings, and I think they suffer for it. They suffer the loss of adult attachments and familial bonds and have to sadly navigate the emotional realm with other children who are just as lost as they are when it comes to dealing with difficulties, conflict, sin, etc. Many children get lost in the school system for these reasons. My children are no exception. My eldest really struggled in school from the time she was in preschool to the time she reached grade 7 or so. It was around this time that she figured things out but a lot of damage had happened since preschool. Damage that she has had to and will continue to have to deal with and work through. My middle child has had a different experience. She is a different child. More permissive then dominant and she easily adapted to the ways of school and the social systems that are found there. Although she still had and has her struggles they are nothing like the struggles my eldest had. My youngest child just started Kindergarten this year and fairly quickly into the school year Alexis started telling me she was having trouble with another girl in her class, whom I will call May (not her real name). One day Alexis would love May and the next day she would hate her. I started getting reports that Alexis and May made bad choices when they were together. I observed this at Alexis’ birthday party and on one other occasion. Together these two were mean to others, disobedient, rude and so on. However, I have also witnessed (mind you it was just yesterday) these two play wonderfully together, giggling and exploring the world together. I never know if these two will be angels together or little devils but one thing I do know, now, is that these two feel connected somehow and they want to be together.
After seeing how horrible Alexis acted around May I panicked and memories of my eldest daughter’s school experiences started to flood my mind and heart. I immediately started to set up boundaries to keep these two apart, as obviously these two were not good for each other. I went to Alexis and May’s teacher and asked her to keep them apart. I did not want them playing alone together at all. I also told Alexis that I did not want her playing with May and that they make bad choices together and that May is not a good influence. I told my middle daughter, Madison, to make sure they didn’t play together at recess or lunch. There my mom job was done. I protected my child from danger so I patted myself on the back and life went on. But things got worse and worse, especially at home. Alexis has increasingly become angrier, harder to manage, crueler to her sister, more disobedient, and ruder. The climax of this came out of Alexis this past week. On Tuesday Alexis had a massive temper tantrum where for two hours I thought she was possessed by Satan himself. She said horrible abusive things to me, hissed and growled at me, glared at me with such contempt and hatred that I have no doubt Satan was in fact elated at the unfolding events. He tries so cunningly to cause strife, sow hated and discord, and to tear families apart limb by limb just as He tears unborn babies apart limb by limb from the womb. But I stared Satan in the eyes that day and I told Him to get lost. I claimed myself and my baby girl for God and God alone. I told Satan he could not have my child or me. The Lord strengthened me throughout this ordeal. I know He did because I’ve been through this before with my eldest child and I was broken by it. And I reacted in such anger back because of this brokenness. This time though I had such peace, I was so calm, and I was completely removed from the situation emotionally but I was not lacking in empathy or compassion. The Holy Spirit was working overtime and I was sitting back relaxing. When Alexis told me she hated me and that she wanted me to go to hell, I looked at her, felt compassion for her and I said “Alexis your words are not hurting me and I don’t believe them. I don’t believe what you are saying is true because I know who I am in Jesus. I am a child of God and I am loved by God and that Alexis is all I need.” Alexis would look at me with disbelief and tried harder to make me crumble, fall, and lose my temper but it never happened.
Between the words of hatred for me Alexis would open up and bear her heart and soul to me. She told me all about the difficulties she was having with May. She told me that she hated May because May was bad and that she became bad when she was with her. Alexis was seething in anger and hatred for this little girl whereas before Alexis loved May and always wanted to play with her. At one point Alexis looked at me and I saw such confusion and pain in her that I started crying. I couldn’t bear the cross any longer and my rescue cry came out. “Oh maybe mom will home-school you. I’ll fix this Alexis. Mommy will make it all better”. Things settled down within 20 minutes or so of me saying this. Alexis knew I heard her and I was going to make it all better even if it meant giving up every moment of my life for her. What a minute I thought. I’m going to have to give up every moment of my life for her? Whoa!! That’s a lot to ask God. I won’t be able to handle it. I will crumble because I will no longer have time to pray or exercise or write, etc. I panicked a bit and said Oh Lord I hope you aren’t actually going to call me to do this. And Rob, what about Rob! There is no way he would go for this at all. So the Lord and I wrestled for a while. My selfishness against His call to Love. The Lord won of course. By the end of the match I submitted myself to Him saying “okay Lord I will do it if I have to and I know if it is your will everything will work out and you will give me the grace and the strength to live it out. Before I even got a chance to talk to Rob, the girls told him Alexis was being home-schooled. Ah!! Damage control!! Rob and I had a discussion, worked though some things and I was absolutely right Rob was not keen on the idea. But he knew that if God was calling us to it then it would be hard to say no.
The following morning was glorious Wednesday where I go to confession, mass and adoration. During this time the Lord usually answers all the questions that have built up over the week. One of this week’s questions was “Lord open up my eyes to see this situation with May through Your eyes. I want to know the truth because it is only in the truth that any progress will be made.” Oh did the Lord ever open my eyes to the truth and the truth convicted me of my own sin. I love how truth convicts and never condemns. It breathes life into every heart, into every relationship, into every situation. Truth always comes with a solution. Condemnation, which comes from Satan, comes with blindness, confusion and powerlessness to create change. I saw clearly how from the very beginning I had sown untruth about who May was and I in fact demonized her, made her bad and dangerous in the eyes of Alexis. I had turned Alexis’ friend into an enemy. The truth of this hurt and I wept in the church for the discord and disorder I had created. I begged God to forgive me and to give me the grace to fix what I had done. I know that May is a beautiful child of God who is loved and I know that she is good so why oh why did I become so blind to this truth? How easily it can happen when we get caught up in the fear of losing our child to bad friends. Of course there needs to be rules, boundaries, and limits but these rules, boundaries and limits become transformed when we are operating from a place of truth about who we are, who others are, and who God is. It no longer comes from a place of fear and sin but from a place of freedom and love. The goal here is for May and Alexis to learn to see and accept each other in the light of these truths and it is the adults who need to help them do it. It’s the adults who need to help Alexis and May see themselves as good and to choose the good and not the bad.
I prayed in the church until I heard the children playing outside for recess. I wanted to spend recess with Alexis. As I walked toward the playground I saw that Alexis and May were playing joyfully together. (Even when they were not allowed to play together they would always disobey and do so anyways. They would then get in trouble for it and would be separated). When Alexis saw me on the playground she yelled out mommy, ran to me and gave me a big hug. Almost immediately she looked panicked and started looking for other kids. I asked Alexis what she was doing and she said she was looking for others kids to play with because she was not allowed to play with May because May was bad. My heart broke and I told Alexis May was not bad and that I wrong for making her think that she was. I explained that May is good, beautiful and a child of God just like she was. I told Alexis that she was allowed to play with May and that trying to keep them apart was the wrong thing to do. Alexis and May squealed with delight, jumped for joy and hugged each other. We all talked about how much Alexis and May enjoyed playing together and how much they loved each other. They even said they looked like twins and were sisters. It was so beautiful to see. They were even giving me hugs and said I could be May’s mom. I laughed and said I could be her second mom because she already had a mom. I stayed and played with Alexis and May until the end of recess. I was so overjoyed at how the truth set me and these two little girls free. Free to be who they were created to be. Free to see each other with love and enjoy each other. Don’t get me wrong. I am not naïve. They are 6 year old girls so I know there will still be bad behavior, rudeness, disobedience, hurt feelings, and bruised egos but that is why they have adults. Although, there are not enough adults in the school system and so many times these types of relational issues never get dealt with properly. And because they don’t get dealt with properly they become major issues later on and become sources of great wounding for children. This is a whole other issue. An issue that is wonderfully dealt with by Gordon Neufeld in the book Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers. (I love Gordon Neufeld’s teachings on parenting).
At one point during recess I spoke to Alexis and May’s teacher and told her what the Lord showed me. She agreed that things had gotten worse by trying to keep them apart. The teacher was already allowing Alexis and May to play together as long as they were making good choices. I was relieved to hear this. I asked if I could come a few times a week during lunch hour to spend time with Alexis and May to speak truth over them and to help them work through any issues that may arise between them. Their teacher was on board with this idea. I left the school playground feeling hopeful, feeling forgiven, and with peace and joy in my heart. I thanked the Lord for allowing me to see the situation through His eyes. I also thanked Saint Rita of Cascia for her intercession as the day after a novena to her all this unfolded. It wasn’t specifically what I had prayed for but I am pretty sure it is related and just the beginning stages of Madison and Alexis’ relationship being healed (again a whole other topic and cross that we all bear).
Oh God is so good!! He never ceases to amaze me and I am in awe at how beautiful His truth is. The more and more my soul receives Truth (Jesus) the more and more I yearn for it, thirst for it and love it. I pray today that the Lord would pour out His truth into the world so that it would penetrate deep into the souls of every living creature. I pray that we would all see our enemies as friends, with love and truth in our hearts about who we are, who they are, and who God is. Jesus, we trust in You. Amen.
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