If Only We Could Wrap Their Hearts In Bubble Wrap

We attempt to protect our children from the weather, illness, accidents and the boogie man. Most of the time we are successful. Sometimes, we are not.

There is one thing that proves to be a fruitless fight.


“Mommy? I had a horrible day today,” #2son says to me over cantaloupe and crackers after school. I settle in for his tale of woe.

It contained the usual. Dropping his jacket in a puddle. He didn’t get to sit in his favorite seat on the bus with his favorite friend. They ran out of pizza at lunch and he had to have chicken drumsticks. Which he loves. But still.

The worst thing that happened? It was during the fire drill. They were all filing outside and a younger kid, a kid in the 1st grade, was walking ahead of #2son. They were to wait under the tree and Mr. 1stgrade moved a branch aside and looked like he was holding it for #2son to pass. But just as #2son got close, as he was smiling and starting to say thank-you, Mr. 1stgrade smiled and let the branch go. Hard. Smacking #2son in the face. And then, Mr. 1stgrade laughed.

“Why would he do that?” my son said with tears starting to fall, “That was so mean.”

The look of innocence in his eyes broke my heart. And he wasn’t crying because of the sting on his face. He was remembering the offense. He was tearing up because of the sting in his heart.

“Why was he smiling? And why did he laugh? It wasn’t funny. Nobody else laughed,” my son implored, trying to make sense of such meanness. “And he was younger than me. I was about to thank him. He doesn’t even know me. Why would he do that?” he asked again.

I had no answer. I hugged him. And said something about sad, angry people and how they lash out at others because they want people to hurt as much as they do. But it was no consolation.

And my son’s innocence was shattered.

How do we protect our children from mean people? And if we could, should we? When our oldest daughter was dealing with some mean-girl shenanigans years ago my husband said, “Better she experience this now, when we can help guide her rather than protect her and then have her experience it when she moves out, when we’re not around to help.” I suppose he’s right. Reluctantly, I agreed with him. But why do we have to experience meanness at all?

I can make him wear his seat belt or his bike helmet. I can feed him Flintstone vitamins and make sure he drinks his milk. I put him to bed at a reasonable hour. I know his friends. I read to him and he reads to me. I do everything I can to make sure he is safe and loved.

But I can’t wrap his heart in bubble wrap.

But oh, how I wish I could.


Filed under All In A Day's Work, children, parenting

12 responses to “If Only We Could Wrap Their Hearts In Bubble Wrap

  1. I guess that at least you can be thankful that you are raising your children not to be mean which is a beautiful thing and a challenge. 🙂

  2. By experiencing & learning what meanness is, he can truly learn & appreciate what kindness is. And it will help him better evaluate who his friends should be.

  3. Trial by fire. Sad as it is, it’s the way things go down.

    Tits on a Stick

  4. Thank GOD nobody else laughed. Whole different conversation if lots of kids were laughing at him. This way when you ask, “why do you think he felt that cruel?” and “why do you think nobody else laughed?” at least you can both agree that it would be a terrible world if things like that happend all the time.

    Terrible, terrible thing for a first grader to do. I’m sorry for you and your son. I’m the kind of helicopter parent who’d get the kid’s name so I could casually call his parents and let them know what he did. Casually. Because you know how inherently casual I am.

  5. llcooljoe

    We are going through the same kind of meaness with our 17 year old daughter normally via all the social network sites she’s obsessed with. Tough times, I know. You are doing a great job.

  6. Such difficult things for a child to learn. And so painful for the parents. Thank goodness your son has a mother who would listen and support him. Too many children do not. You get five stars for this one, Jane!

  7. Protecting our children? We do our best, don’t we. But eventually they lose their innocence; we only hope it is not too soon and in not so painful ways.

    You are such a good mom…

  8. Two things struck me. That you sat with him after school for crackers and cateloup, ie, you gave him the most precious of yourself…time. And that no one else laughed. Both things are important. And you are a very good mother.

  9. Oh I wish we could too.

  10. This really takes me back. We moved to a new city when our oldest was 10 years old. She was not only the “new girl,” she was the “cute new girl.” What resulted was 3-4 years of catty, mean girl stuff. Stuff that rocked her self-esteem and caused emotional damage that made her junior and senior high years very challenging. If I could have wrapped her heart in bubble wrap, I would have gladly done so.

  11. The bubble wrap idea sounds so appealing. I want to protect my little girl when she is teased or another classmate is being mean. I don’t understand it, but I hope with our guidance she learns that there are more nice/sweet/loving people than mean. I believe you are showing that with your love.

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