{ ShePonders: Homemaking }


I’ve been doing a lot of homemaking recently.

Several weeks ago I discovered that third grade boys hurled mean words at my daughter. My reaction came swift – shared tears, long hugs, soothing words, calls to the teacher and rallying a community of friends around her to mend what was broken.

Now I check in often, and ask for greater detail, about what happened on the playground with other kids. And I’ve empowered both my son and daughter to advocate for others who might fall prey to mean words – stand up and say something next time.

We’ve read Desmond and the Very Mean Word, a stunning children’s book by Desmond Tutu, multiple times round our dinner table. The story centers on a mean word hurled at a young Desmond by a red-haired boy. Desmond deals with the feelings the mean word provoked, feelings about himself and the other boys and their red-haired ring leader. He’s challenged to consider forgiveness. Then one day he sees the red-haired boy in the neighborhood – held down and taunted by his older brothers. He recognizes the anguish in his eyes.

What the young Desmond comes to see is that even the bully can be a victim. The next time the boys meet there’s a moment of compassion, an instant where they see each other as fellow victims, both wanting to be free from that spin cycle of meanness. In this very human encounter Desmond finds solidarity, forgiveness and freedom.

My children asked me to read this story every night for weeks. And I think it kneaded good things into us. We discovered that words could make or unmake us. We noticed the humanity in both the boys. We saw how solidarity heals and forgiveness frees.

A couple days ago someone asked me what ever happened to the bullies. It caught me off guard, which my friend must have read as confusion, because she clarified ‘what did they do to the mean boys who bothered your daughter on the playground?’

Read the rest over at SheLoves Magazine… 

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All writing on this site represents my own journey, my own wrestling, my own epiphanies. While I work with Communities of Hope, ideas shared here do not necessarily represent this organization.