This cautionary tale begins last Saturday, a day in which we ate pumpkin pancakes, shopped at Ace Hardware and Wal-Mart, and happened upon a pretty great cheap Mexican place for lunch. Later, we had friends over for shrimp and grits and some pretty amazing derby pie a la my friend Carli. Yes, I just mentioned what we ate that day three times in the last two sentences, which means your assessment is correct: we consumed an ungodly amount of calories last Saturday. But, that's not really important. Along with all this eating and errand-running and fun-having, there was also a semi-fateful visit to the community park.
Matt usually takes Sam to the park on Saturday mornings so that I can do things like paint my toenails, read People magazine and call my bff's (besties if you're under 19). What actually happens is that Matt takes Sam to the park and I clean the kitchen, clean the bathroom, do the laundry and possibly take a shower. Sometimes, just sometimes, I paint my toenails. Also, this is not important to this story.
Anyhoo, Matt took Sam to the park and then I met them there so that we could all ride together on our way to make all those things I mentioned earlier happen. Sam was sufficiently hot and sweaty which meant he probably enjoyed his little visit to the land of stuff you can climb on/hang on/jump off of. But, Matt seemed a little perturbed.
It turns out that there were a couple of four or five-year old punks (I'll explain this choice of words in a moment) who decided to hang out on the side of the park where toddlers do their thing and Sam was instantly drawn to these two older boys on the wrong side of the playground. Apparently, he went right over to sit down beside them and I can only imagine what kind of conversation he tried to start. Probably something about the rock he just picked up or the fact that he'd just eaten a graham cracker.
Anyway, Matt went on to tell me that those two boys basically made fun of my little guy and called him a "stupid baby."
Here is where I want to use curse words and pick fights with anyone who looks at me the wrong way. When Matt told me this I literally felt my hands ball into fists and veins pop out of my neck. I now very clearly understand what the term "Mama Bear" means.
At church the next day I noticed Matt's eyes narrow and I glanced in the direction he was looking. Apparently, a kid a few rows up looked like the one who had been mean to Sam and for a second there, I kind of thought we might have a little situation on our hands. Obviously, nothing happened. But, you never know. I mean, Sam got called a "stupid baby," so our emotions were running a little high. (It wasn't this kid, by the way, so no fisticuffs ensued).
It's weird to want to (kind of) pick a fight with a four-year old, but something about the thought of someone, even a silly kid, making fun of my baby makes me want to punch a wall. It also makes me want to squeeze my baby as tight as humanly possible without accidentally suffocating him.
After taking all this in, I found myself fast-forwarding to the future, formulating a systematic strategy for how I would protect Sam from any and all bullies until the day he turns forty. I knew this would obviously not be possible, but for a second or two, I was pretty sure I could make it work.
What I do know is that it broke my heart more than a little to even imagine that anyone could treat my little guy with any kind of unkindness. And, it made me feel incredibly helpless to protect him.
I'm reminded of the a quote I read somewhere years ago that says: "Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart walking around outside of your body." (Elizabeth Stone).
I didn't know it would feel quite this way. And, I really didn't know if would make me want to beat up four-year olds.
I think it's probably time to go talk to Jesus about justice and forgiveness and all that jazz.