“Mrs. X!!” The voice of a young man from my children’s school called behind me in our local supermarket two days ago. As I turned and smiled, I was greeted by a wide smile of his own – a 17 year old boy I’ll call “Tom” who has been on a sports team with my son and in homeroom together for several years. They are friends – not super close – but the boy has slept over this summer for guys’ night and my son hangs out with him occasionally.
After we chatted for a few minutes about his recent sports injury and plans for college next year, we said goodbye and I thanked him for stopping to say hello. As I watched him walk down the aisle, I couldn’t help but think of how God answered a little sister’s prayer for her brother.
Just about two months ago I came across a scribbled note tucked into my youngest daughter’s old bible in her bedside drawer that she wrote 6 years ago when she was 10. It read:
“Please make Tom and Jim nice to Alex and stop being mean to him!!”
This was my daughter’s prayer request for her big brother (pseudonym for big brother is “Alex”).
We moved to our current school district when my twins were entering 6th grade. Little did I know that the timing was brutal. They went from being rock stars at their former school to completely unknown at a time when all kids are beginning to become self-conscious, worried about everything “teen”, notice the opposite sex, and begin dealing with all the changes happening in their own bodies!
The school and town change was awesome (my twins will tell you so today), but it was definitely hard on them at first.
“Tom” was the boy from the supermarket who labeled my son “churchie” when we first moved here. Why? Because my son liked polo shirts and khaki pants. This boy found such clothes to be for Sundays only. He relentlessly yelled “churchie” through the hallways, teased my son about his glasses, and demeaned his ice hockey talent as “funny” in a town that breathes football. No matter how my son attempted to avoid this kid, he poked fun at him all the time. My daughter listened in on the after-school conversations and felt bad for her brother.
Seems small to us as grown-ups, but for the new kid at school, it was terrible. My son stood in my room in front of my mirror one morning asking, “Mama, should I wear this shirt today? Maybe it’s too nice for school.” And, “Should I wear my glasses today? Or maybe it’s a good day for my contacts, even though I don’t like them.”
His head lowered in front of the mirror. “Tom is going to make fun of me.”
Just as my eyes stung with tears and I seriously contemplated how I could get Tom alone to yank him up by the shirt collar an inch from my face and give him a wicked verbal lashing, my son looked up at himself and said, “But this is who I am…” He shrugged his shoulders and headed to the breakfast table.
Looking back, that was a big moment. At the time, I was still angry, hurt for him, and loaded up on some prayers of my own (probably not nearly as nice as my daughter’s prayer).
When my son came home that same afternoon, he shared that “Tom” did indeed tease him. But I stood in the frozen section on Wednesday night thinking about how God turned that situation around and used a rough patch for my son to grow him into a strong, confident young man today.
I thought of my precious daughter who has always been highly protective of her family members (the daughter who named us Family-to-the 5-Power many years ago) and is deeply faithful. When I found that note to God a couple of months ago my heart swelled thinking of her sweet spirit.
In front of Eggo waffles, I smiled thinking about how “Tom” was now a friend. (And, “Jim” is too.)