“If there is any responsibility in the cycle of life it must be that one generation owes to the next that strength by which it can come to face ultimate concerns in its own way.”
“But there are 20 kids on this list,” I said, recounting them.
Princess frowned, crossed her arms and said, “I’m not making one for Lenny.”
“You can’t do that. You made cards for everyone else,” I said. Then, realizing something was wrong by the look on her face, I bent down to her level.
“Why don’t you like Lenny?” I asked her.
Princess burst into tears. She shared that Lenny is a mean bully who really bothers her at school.
“And he draws pictures of me in jail!” she said, crying on my shoulder.
Meanwhile, my oldest, who just turned 8 years old, marched into the room. He had heard the conversation and felt the urge to protect his younger sister, whom he affectionately calls Snail.
“Who is this Lenny? What does he look like? Point him out and I’ll mess him up! I’ll eat him or rip him apart, Snail!” said my oldest, with fervor.
“Princess is a strong little woman and she can handle this situation herself,” I told him, adding a request to let me talk to her alone for a minute.
After he left us, I got my daughter a tissue.
“Listen, Princess,” I began. “Try to be nice to this kid even though he is mean to you.”
“Why?” she asked, wide-eyed.
At that moment, I was thinking that this was a perfect opportunity to tell her some wise Christian moral about taking the high road and turning the other cheek, but I didn’t. Lately, I haven’t felt that strong spiritually. However, that’s my issue, not hers, so I just tried to speak from the heart.
“Um, I’m not sure. I do know that being kind to people who hurt you keeps you looking young and beautiful on the inside,” I said.
“Where inside, Mama?” she asked.
“In your heart and in your mind. Being beautiful on the inside matters more than just looking beautiful on the outside.”
Then she asked, “Do I have to make him a card?”
“That’s your decision,” I said.
Secretly, the Mama Bear in me wanted to find that five-year-old bully and make him so sorry. Instead, I left her alone with her glue and crayons to make what was, perhaps, the first small version of a life-time of tough decisions in regard to dealing with others. I never asked her what she decided to do about Lenny’s Valentine, but after she put her cards in her school bag I had to peek. On top was a new one that read,
“I Still Love You.”
Bio: Loren Christie is a proud member of Generation X living in New York with her husband and three children. She is a reporter for two local weekly newspapers: The Suffolk County News and Islip Bulletin. Loren is also a columnist for The Long Island Advance, her hometown newspaper. In the past. she has worked as a high school English teacher, a director of Youth Ministry, and a freelance writer. Her creative writing has been published in Mom Writer’s Literary Magazine, Mamazina, and The Motherhood Muse E-zine.
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