For him, friends are a big deal.
They are talked about and treasured.
And thought about.
And on the tip of his tongue when he wakes.
They are important to the most extroverted boy I know.
He doesn’t spend entire school days with peers–
But still, play comes often. In the neighborhood.
At church. At the YMCA. On Fridays.
On Fridays, when he attends a school–
An enrichment program that opens its doors to homeschool students.
There are field trips and clubs.
A yellow school bus.
Playgrounds and parties.
An opportunity to enjoy the best parts of what a classroom education can be.
He is seven. And excitable. And energetic. And relentlessly optimistic.
He will beat most at chess.
Or monopoly. Or cribbage.
He reads at a level well beyond his years,
and speaks that way too.
But, he cannot always read you,
or your subtle communication signals.
He will talk. And talk. And talk more, if you listen.
But he will love you.
And want your company.
And make you feel important.
And if you are not lovable, he will find something to like about you.
He is kind.
And would not intentionally offend.
Although, sometimes he does,
as growing boys are wont to do.
But, I know his heart.
Today he bounded out of my car and into his school,
with a smile stretched wide and a green backpack stuffed with Valentines.
There was no class list because there was not a formal exchange.
But he painstakingly addressed them the night before,
to the friends he would see on Friday.
To his favorites.
And a few extras in case he missed anyone.
And I prayed for his day.
At pickup, I saw him,
walking toward me.
Crawling in. Buckling. And then it came.
A knife piercing the air and my heart.
My mama heart.
“No one gave me any Valentines. Not one.”
And a pause.
“Except one of the teachers.”
And I just inhaled.
And tried to think of what to say,
that would mend,
and fill up the empty.
When inside I was overflowing.
Not everyone brought cards or candy to exchange,
And that helped.
It helped us both.
But there is a boy who is often unkind to him,
that this son of mine insisted on giving a Valentine in spite of that,
because he knows love is right,
and love wins.
That boy simply said “You spelled my name wrong.”
When this love offering came.
When kindness that was not earned was given.
When it was scrawled in a 7-year-old’s handwriting
who didn’t ask his his mother for help,
because this was just from him.
And I nearly fell into a thousand pieces.
But his tears didn’t come,
And so I held onto mine. Then.
He still had fun, he said.
And ate maybe 15 cookies.
And other stuff.
Which is a big deal for a kid that most certainly never gets 15 cookies at home.
And despite it all,
he was down, but not broken.
He was grateful for the day.
And the time
And I was reeling.
I wanted to shout,
“That boy is not nice!”
“He does not deserve your love!”
But that would be a lie.
And a mother’s battle cry.
The cry of a broken heart,
and not a restored one.
So instead I asked, “How are you?”
And he said. “It’s okay.”
“It’s okay that I gave him one and my friends because
‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, Mom.'”
And that was nearly my undoing.
Of my heart, unraveling.
And through it, I was grateful for our God.
And for Grace.
And His love,
that I do not deserve.
And for this boy of mine,
who sees so far beyond the ugly,
that he looks at the good,
even with sad eyes,
and a let down heart.
And they may not see him.
You may not see him.
But I do.
I know his heart.
And the love of Christ shines through.
Through his dark and my dark.
And it is light.
And it is love.
Tonight I am still broken.
But he is okay.
And he is loved.
And there is much to be thankful for
He knows love.
And love always wins.