Every day after school you ask your son the same thing--“how was school?”--and every day he says the same thing—“fine.” That word usually translates into one of two things, either nothing monumental happened that he needs to tell you about at that exact moment or something did happen but he’s going to wait to tell you when he’s ready. And that could be anytime between now and a random time in the future.
So you take the “fine” and hope that things are going more or less smoothly.
Then one night, as you’re putting him to bed, that random time comes up.
As you’re brushing the hair out of his face and leaning down to kiss him goodnight he looks into your eyes and reveals a piece of himself.
He tells you, in his small shaky voice, that his friend doesn’t want to talk to him anymore. Your heart starts beating faster and you can feel the heat rising to your face. All the memories of your childhood rejections and friendship headaches flood back and you instantly feel a sharp pain in your soul. You are angry and sad. You want to take away his pain, ask him a hundred questions, figure out what happened….just do something. But instead of overreacting, you stay calm and listen.
He goes on.
He tells you in a choked, trembling voice, that now that he and his friend are not in the same class, his friend--the same one he’s been friends with since they were little boys--doesn’t say hello to him in the lunch line-up.
That’s when you see the tears streaming into his pillow.
Suddenly you hate his friend with every fiber of your being. The same boy who you’ve had over to your house dozens of times and you adored is now your enemy. He’s the one that has broken your baby’s heart and at this moment you can’t imagine how you will ever forgive him for that.
You struggle to find the right words to comfort your son and help him deal with this friendship struggle, which you know is just one of many to come. You want…need…the perfect words.
You take him in your arms and kiss each tear soaked eye and tell him that it’s going to be okay. You tell him that you love him, that there is nothing wrong with him and that his friendship with his friend will be fine. You explain that the first week of school can be tough and that his friend is probably just trying to make friends in his new class, just like he is, and with the confusion of the first days of school his friend probably didn’t even see him in line. You reassure him that his friends love him and tell him that he should try again tomorrow to say hello to his buddy.
Then you tuck him into his bed, give him a few more kisses and say goodnight.
As you walk out of his room, you realize that even though you probably didn’t say the perfect words, you’re just happy that you were there to hold your baby in your arms and comfort him when he decided it was time to tell you his version of “fine.”