The Kid Left On A Sidewalk

The past week my six year old and I have been talking, an open dialogue about the gentleman below. Humans of New York featured him and shared his story. The story dug itself into my thoughts for the day so I decided I would share it with Beckett. Even if he were a little young. Even if I were a little removed from its realities.

So I read it for both of us, word for word, aloud, when Beckett got home from school.

Guy

“I grew up as a nerdy kid. I was a Jehovah’s Witness. People were always making fun of me. Then on the first day of high school, three older kids came up and tried to rob me and my friends. My friends ran away, so the kids knocked me to the ground and beat me badly. On that day I decided that being nerdy wasn’t working for me. I realized that being smart and intelligent wasn’t going to protect me. So I decided to stop being me. I started engaging in things, hanging around guns, stuff that I knew was wrong. I felt like the only way to survive was to not isolate myself from the pack.”

Beckett listened closely, his face changing when I read ‘beat me badly.’ We talked a little about the story. He needed to process. I knew questions would come later.

At night I told him I had another story I wanted him to hear. Paraphrased, it went like this:

“Once there was this boy, this boy that was overlooked and picked on, walking home from school. Some other kids saw him walking and decided to steal his backpack, throw it in the mud and push him down, leaving him alone and hurt on the sidewalk.  A group of well-behaved children were walking on the same road and when they saw him, they crossed over to the other side of the street. Then a teenager, on his way to assist with after school programs, also walked by and saw him laying there, and decided to keep his distance. The boy looked up and saw an older kid from school coming his way. This kid was popular, funny, and usually picked on the boy at school. This time was different though, this time the older kid was nice to the boy. He stopped, helped him with his scrapes and bruises and walked the boy home.The older kid stopping made all the difference in the boy’s day.”

By this time I knew I had given my little man two heavy stories to ponder, for a six year old, so I grabbed his little hands, and explained ::

Buddy, Daddy and I want you to always stop. Always be the one that stops. If you see someone in trouble and you can help by getting an adult, then check on them and get help. There are boys and girls like you who are afraid of who they are because no one is stopping. Their friends are running. Some may not have friends. You buddy, you are special, and kind, you have always been kind, so you stop for those kids. You get help. When you are much older, you walk them home. Always stop.”

He smiled and said “I know momma.”

The next night while talking about his day, Beckett asked me a question that made my chest tighten and eyes water.

“Momma, what if I am the kid that gets pushed down and left?”

I just gave him a hug and said “You know what Buddy? There are moms and dads all over the world telling their kids to be the one that stops. Look for those kids. They will find you.”

“Last thing, you know what you are good at. That is yours forever. Protect it from people that would change your mind. NEVER stop being you. Look for the kind kids.”

The thing is, the confidence in my answer to Beckett’s question was a lie. Are you out there moms and dads? If my kid is in trouble, will your kid stop? Will your kid help my kid keep believing in what he is good at?  I don’t want to be alone in this.

I can’t be alone in this.

This parenting thing-it messes with me. Most of the time when I am trying to pass on parental wisdom and courage I end up just convicting myself. After our conversation I wondered if I stopped enough. People are intentionally and unintentionally wounded on humanity’s sidewalks, in conversations and social circles, in workplaces and on social networks. If I am going to ask my son to be an instrument of hope, then I need to show him what ‘always be the one to stop’ means.

So, enough with being blinded by busyness and annoyance. I am going to be intentional in stopping to help. I hope you will also. Love for every neighbor.

beach chair

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This week we have been talking to Beckett about when to stand up for himself and when to get help. We have also talked about ways to be kind and Jesus being with him in scary situations.

What about you? Are you talking about this stuff with your kids?

The second story is probably familiar. It is a pharaphrased-momma-kid version of the parable Jesus told in response to the question “who is our neighbor?” Jesus had just given the greatest command, followed by “love your neighbor as yourself.” He was asked what qualified as a ‘neighbor’, so he dropped the Good Samaritan parable on them and BOOM! Love everyone. (Read all about this parable’s beautiful message in Luke 10)

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One last thing :: I haven’t stopped writing about music. I just..yeah. The songs I am jamming are pulling out personal stuff. Waiting on the right message of hope-with the right song.

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 (The ending to the guy’s story above is pretty amazing. Read about it on Humans of New York-the writer captures New York and her people honestly)

One thought on “The Kid Left On A Sidewalk

  1. We just had a lesson on lying and the guilty feelings that follow at our house. Why lying is wrong, where the feelings come from, what to do with them, how to ask forgiveness… yeah heavy stuff here too. Hugs to you momma.
    My oldest would be the one that always stops just like B but my little… she will get it because Jesus tells her.

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