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Laura Berman Fortgang Headshot

Soul Patch

Posted: Updated:

As a mother, there is nothing more soul-wrenching than having one of your kids hurting in any way. You want to jump in, patch it up, make it all better, but sometimes you can't. Other times, you don't have to.

I got a call yesterday that my youngest (12) was on the receiving end of a violating bully move in the boy's locker room during gym. The authority who called was so reticent to have to deliver the news that I instantly mirrored his concern and held my breath to receive what he had to say.

"Was he hurt?"
"Did he cry?"
"Was he mortified?"

The answer to all was no.

He wasn't the only one who it happened to, so the group of boys approached their gym teacher and told him what happened, and the school leaders moved in to take over from there. Parents were called in. The bully will have a punishment rendered.

I took it all in stride and let the disciplinarian know that if my son did not call me after school, before play practice, that I could be certain his self-esteem was not affected.

No call!

When my son got in the car with me after practice, I gingerly brought up the subject of the incident and he retold the story from the point of view of someone who could not believe the kid was stupid enough to do what he did. There was no victim present in front of me and not a sign of humiliation. As far as he was concerned, he spoke up and was the victor.

I was ready to open my arms to a crying, traumatized kid and that's not who was in front of me. I'm surprised by being surprised, but at the same time I marveled at his wholeness and at my assumption that I would be needed to salve a wound.

I revisited the topic two more times that night just to be sure. But no, his soul needed no patching. Instead we talked about how desperate this aggressor must be for attention to mess with four boys in the locker room over the course of one class.

What a cool person. Did I have anything to do with it? What if there's a next time? Will this experience shape him to face worse later? I can't say but I am relieved. At least for today.

For more by Laura Berman Fortgang, click here.

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