Stunned, I gazed at my friend as blood began to drip down his forehead. In my hand was a rock about the size of my fist – the weapon that had dealt the blow, and I began to wonder if maybe I had missed the point.
I hope you won’t think too harshly of me. I was only in second grade.
A few days earlier, my friends had started playing a game called “pile on.” The game – which was truly mean spirited- involved picking on the smallest and weakest boys by pushing them to the ground and “piling on.” The strong ones, the fast ones, just thought it was good fun. But I was neither fast, nor strong. So when I got home each day, I cried.
My mom, angered at the behavior of my peers, told me that I needed to take up for myself. She explained to me how I had to stand up to people who were being bullies and let them know they couldn’t get away with it.
Like I said – I may have taken her advice a little too far.
On the day of the assault, the first to attempt to push me to the ground was a large, strong, imposing kid. I was able to outrun him for a time, but eventually I remembered what my mother told me. Then, I stopped, picked up a rock and faced him, together with the seven year-old lynch mob that followed him. He paused for a minute, looking at my weapon. But then, as he became aware that everyone was watching, he came at me.
I didn’t even throw the rock. I just bashed it into his forehead, causing him to stumble back. Then, for reasons that are probably best explained by anthropologists, I held the rock in the air and growled, just as my attacker turned to face the mob with a bloodied face.
A dozen second-graders scattered across the playground, screaming.
I was in serious trouble. I mean serious trouble.
Several teachers ran over and sternly rebuked me, as my friend was rushed off to the hospital. I cried. I was made to sit in my classroom until the end of recess.
“When your mom gets here,” they told me, “you’re going to be in big trouble.”
Funny thing, though. I didn’t believe them. I didn’t fear how my mom would react, because I trusted that she would know what I was doing – that I was honoring and respecting what she had asked me to do the day before.
Sure enough, on her arrival, my mom calmly drove me home as I continued to choke back tears. She told me that she understood what I did and why I did it. Then, she told me that, at my friend’s birthday party that night, I should apologize.
That night, I apologized, just like she said to. My friend, now proudly showing off his half-dozen or so stitches, gratefully accepted, and we spent the balance of the night consuming lots of sugary substances and admiring his birthday bounty.
Looking back now, I can see that I may have partially missed the point that mom was trying to get across that day. I think she wanted me to stand up for myself, but I probably resorted to more force than she would have preferred.
Even so, she responded to my actions in the most beautiful, graceful way possible. Rather than scolding me, she loved me, looking for the best even in circumstances where others were seeing the worst. She gently guided me into reconciliation with my friend. And she sat back and smiled as we stuffed our faces with cake and ice cream a few hours later.
Thank God for mothers who are like God.