My son cried to me the other night about school. He had expressed that he didn’t feel like he had many “true” friends. He knows the difference between having friends that he could completely be himself around and trust compared to those that he plays nicely with most of the time. “I only have 3 friends, and one of them is you”, he stated. I tried to explain the importance of quality over quantity, and explaining that true friends are more important than having a bunch of “so-so” friends. In his trials with friendships, he reminded me of a younger self. I also struggled with friendships when I was little.
Then, I tried to redirect his mind onto more positive things, “You have one full day of school tomorrow and then Wednesday is a half of day! You’ll get to make gingerbread houses and watch Polar express on Wednesday, so it’s going to be a fun day”. Except this led to his worries, “I can’t make gingerbread houses. The teacher says that everyone must have 25 dojo points, and I only have 19. I’m not going to be able to get 6, I know it. And everyone will be making gingerbread houses except for me”. This made me feel angry and disappointed at the same time. Dojo points are points that students receive for productivity, respect, and staying on task. It is logged into an app, so parents can check up on their children’s progress every day. I tried to reassure him that he would be able to get the points needed, because he still had two more days to earn them.
His other heartache was that he felt like he wasn’t good enough for his English teacher this year. He explains, “She’s mean to me. She thinks I’m not trying and not doing my work. I have a lot, a lot, alot and alot of unfinished work. I would be working on it, and she says we have new work. So I have to finish it later and I can never do it later”. I understood was he saying. It does take him longer to do his work, because of his problems with receptive/expressive language that he already has an IEP for. I felt helpless at 9:00 at night. My mind started racing, what can I do? What should I do?
After calming his mind and letting him know that I would try to talk to his teacher about it in the morning, we rolled over to our sides of the bed. As I waited for him to fall asleep, my mind continued to race. A few minutes later, my son rolled back over. “Mommy, I prayed”, he said, “I said ‘Dear God, please help me tomorrow with (teacher’s name) that I make my dojo points. Please guide me to do my best. And I love you. And Merry Christmas..if you celebrate Christmas’..Does God celebrate Christmas?”. I chuckled, “Yes, because you know that the real reason we celebrate Christmas is because of Jesus’s birthday, right?”. He paused for a moment, “And Happy Birthday Jesus. Amen”.
The next day, on our drive to school , I remembered my son’s prayer last night. It was so sweet and encouraging. It put him at peace enough to make him fall asleep. So, I reached back for his hand in the back seat. Once we held hands, I said a little prayer right before I dropped him off at the door. He smiled and said, “Thank you, Mommy. That’s really nice”. We exchanged hugs and he left for school.
When I picked him up from school, he was very happy. He claimed to have a very good day, but was still concerned that he wasn’t going to get his dojo points. He said that he only needed one more point. So I told him, “Well you’ll probably get that when you do your morning work”. He perked up, “Oh yeah! I could do my morning work and get it”. I was grateful for his enthusiastic mood.
Luckily he did earn his dojo point, plus one. He got to make his gingerbread house and he was happy to be out of school for winter break.
Whether you believe in prayer or not, it does provide encouragement for our children. When my son prays at night, he sleeps more peacefully. When we hold hands and pray in the morning, he has a good day at school. When he feels like he has no one to talk to, he calls on God. I believe in God, but I have no specific religion and we’re not avid church goers. I don’t push my beliefs onto anyone, not even to my readers. I just feel the need to share what makes my son feel better about his day or what makes the monsters go away at night. I think every child needs something to lift their spirits whether it’s an imaginary friend, a pet, a favorite toy or even prayer. My son just chooses prayer, and it works.
“You’ll see it when you believe it”
– Wayne Dyer