Last night, I found myself again, pensive in the wake of another busy day. Things had quieted and the distraction of real life calmed, leaving me to think about today...and what the rest of my family will be doing around 10 a.m.
Last Thursday, my cousin's little boy passed away. His funeral is this morning, and I'm told that as the funeral procession crosses the bridge in our little hometown, people will gather and release red balloons in his honor. You can read about that story, and Colton's story HERE.
I have an uncanny ability to detach myself from emotion. When I was studying theatre, I learned how to conjure up emotions to create a character. We'd stand in front of the class and talk about a time we felt rejected...recounting each and every detail under we went "under" so to speak. I do it now, to an extent, as a writer... but in my daily life, I cut myself off.
But this? This one keeps creeping in.
Around Christmas time last year, Colton was admitted to the hospital. We were home and actually had just seen him a few days earlier, so we went to the hospital. It's there we began to see the pieces of the story fall together as we stood praying over his limp body. Something had gone terribly wrong.
And regardless of how close to the situation you are...or how close you are to all the people this directly affects, the pain of it all is palpable. Because the sad fact of the matter is, this didn't have to happen. Someone else decided to mistreat him...someone who was supposed to protect him.
Instead, she chose to do the exact opposite.
In my life, I've known adults who were abused as children. I've seen the horror played out in the strangest ways, as they try to compensate for what's been done to them, to make sense of a world that betrayed them in such a sad way. In our ministry, I watched our kids like a hawk for any sign that something was amiss.
But the truth is, you can't always see those kinds of things simply by grazing across the surface. Things like that root themselves in deep and find a way to stay hidden.
It's like that with evil, isn't it?
I read in the news yesterday about a pair of teachers who were caught on a recording bullying a special needs student in their class. Later in the day, I saw where a ten-year-old girl hanged herself because she was being made fun of. Another story ran across the screen about a 13-year old who'd been coerced into sending a video of herself taking her clothes off to a boy who said he wouldn't like her anymore if she didn't.
He then sent the video to everyone in his contact list.
Who is protecting our children?
Sometimes, I think we, as parents, try to let our kids figure things out for themselves, almost to a fault. It's important that they do, right? They need to learn how the world works. We hear critics of homeschooling say that those children don't have a grasp on the way of the world...but I say, do we really want them to?
We stay a little "hands-off" because we're afraid of being that mom. But sometimes, we have to step in and protect them. We have to be the annoying one that says "Look, this happened to my kid and it's not okay with me."
And more than that, we have to teach our kids that it's okay to tell someone else what is and isn't okay with them. We can't let them sacrifice their own health and well-being for the sake of what someone else. Not like that.
Today, Ethan came home from school with a story about a boy in his class who's been "bullying" him. I don't know that Ethan knows what that really means, but as he described some of the things going on, his voice stayed steady...and then he got to the part where he said "He told me that if I didn't do that, he wouldn't be my friend anymore."
His voice shook and his face contorted as that thought registered in his eight-year-old mind...the horror of having that one boy not accept him as a friend was enough to tie his stomach in knots.
It broke my heart a little.
I've decided that when it comes to my children, I will err on the side of protecting them at the risk of making myself seem neurotic. I will, like a mama lion, fiercely stand guard around the hearts of the children God has put in my care.
I can't turn a blind eye. I can't keep quiet. Because these children trust me. Because I"m their mother.
Protect your children. Be vigilant and fierce. Be demanding on their behalf. Get in their business. Show them you'll defend them. And if you start to lose it...if you get the urge to kick your child in the chest...get help.
I don't care what anyone says...they deserve to stay in a bubble for as long as they possibly can.
Rest in peace, Superman.
Please pray for Colton's family today. All of us, near and far, are shocked and saddened by this loss.