He had been president for the day in his kindergarten class, as it was that presidential time of the academic year. Now, my little commander-in-pjs was wrapped in two blankets, only his head peering out, telling me what he had vetoed during the day, that his VP had behaved and not gotten impeached, and giving me the state of the class report. After a few moments of pondering, he said, “And Robbie made some really good decisions today,” and went back to pondering.
I know a little about Robbie’s home life, and it’s not good. One parent is in jail for having murdered the other parent. Having taught for quite a few years myself, I know that school can be a safe haven for the “Robbies”. This one was an occasional playground pal or lunch buddy of my little guy. I ask some days to see how Robbie’s doing. I make a point to talk to him when I’m at school functions. So I was glad to hear the report that he had had a good day; the emphasis on the really good made me smile. My guy knew what an accomplishment this day had been for his friend.
Not wanting to generate unnecessary curiosity about Robbie’s situation, but still wanting to encourage involvement, I tried to gently explain how positive the friendship could be. I fumblingly said that some people don’t get to have a family that shows love the way we do or that plays together like we do…and that Robbie didn’t have the happy home life that we have. “School can be a hard place for someone who doesn’t have people to show him love at home. I’m glad that you are encouraging Robbie to have good days. That’s a way to make school a better place for him.”
Still pondering, my little peacemaker pulls his hand out from his cocoon of blankets and smacks himself on the forehead. “I just wish I knew how to make his life better,” he whispered in the most agonized tone.
My heart melted with happiness. He got it. He understood the big picture. It wasn’t about how bad the home life was, or how many bad choices someone made…it was about how to show someone a better way.
I leaned over and kissed his head and said, “Oh buddy, you do know how. You already are. Keep cheering him on when he makes good choices. Keep being his friend. He’ll learn love from you.”
More pondering. Then he closed his eyes and said, “I think I want to talk about this some more when I’m not so tired.” And I realized that there is probably no topic I’d rather discuss with him more.