One of the hardest parts about being a parent has to be watching our kids get their hearts broken. It can start early for some. I watched Ramona get her heart broken when she was two. Sometimes it’s even us as their parent who do the breaking. I’m now regretting the decision to encourage a belief in Santa Claus as I know there will be some broken hearts the day my kids learn that it’s all a fantasy. In this case, it’s possible I could have avoided a broken heart. Broken hearts can’t always be avoided, however. Sadly, they are part of being a human and living in a world where people are capable of great emotion—both of love and of fear. Everybody wants to feel worthy. Everyone wants to belong.
Yesterday was our school’s “meet and greet your teacher day” followed by a BBQ. I watched as Ramona started to prep. She picked out a pretty pink dress with lace on top and white tulle on the bottom and paired it with her new high top sneakers. She then brushed her hair about 100 times and picked out a turquoise sparkly headband. She was dressing to impress. I was thinking about how fast she is growing up as she pulled a couple of strands of hair out of her headband to frame her face. She turned to me as asked, “Will my teacher like me?” Ugh. It was like someone slapped me in the face to remind me that sending kids to school is like throwing them to the wolves. “Of course, Ramona!” I answered, “You are so lovable.”
After Ramona met her teacher, she pulled at my arm and asked if she could go play. She was pleased with the meet and greet and was ready to see some classmates. “Mom, can I go play on the playground with my friends?” I was thrilled to hear this as Ramona has never referred to her classmates as friends before and has struggled to make friends in general. I took Sylvie into her kindergarten classroom to meet her teacher and watched Ramona go.
I came out to the playground 30 minutes later to see Ramona sadly playing by herself. I could feel her pain 100 yards away. When I asked her what was wrong, tears welled in her eyes and she choked out the words, “I’m never going to make a friend. Nobody likes me.” Dagger. In. My. Heart. I told her that sometimes you can’t wait for kids to ask you to play, you just have to jump in and “fake it until you make it.” I assured her that adults have to do the same. So again I watched as my little Ramona Moon gathered all of her courage and picked a group of girls to play with. They were playing on the monkey bars and Ramona joined them—looking back at me for affirmation. And then my advice failed Ramona. The girls left. I swear I could hear them giggling. Rejection. Heartbreak. Humiliation. Shame. Ramona’s body kind of slumped down and all I could see was her sparkly headband as her head was hanging so low. Sylvie and I each took a hand and moved to an area where families were eating picnic style on the grass. I squeezed Ramona and whispered again, “you are so lovable”.
Tomorrow is Ramona’s first day of second grade and I’m just praying that the world will be kind to her. I’m praying that she will make a friend and that she’ll feel like she belongs. I pray she will know she is lovable and loved. And sadly, sometimes that’s about all we can do as parents. We only have so much control. We can’t clear their path from disappointment and heartbreak forever. But we can give them nods of affirmation. We can be their cheerleaders in this life. We can remind them that they are so lovable and loved.