One of the first posts I ever wrote on my blog years ago was about Jonah.  He was in Kindergarten.  Today as I worked on the calendar, looking at his upcoming 5th Grade Promotion and deadlines for middle school paper work, I went back and read over that post.  It’s amazing how little he was. It’s amazing how many things have changed.  Today I am sharing a post, with in a post.  The one in Italics is the first one I wrote, those experiences of Jonah’s first experience with rejection clearly taught me I wasn’t prepared for how much it would hurt to see my child hurt, and ache.  In a perfect world I would keep my kids in a bubble. I would surround them with all of the things I want them to see – to know…that God is good, that they are good, and that they are so very loved. And please God don’t let them be hurt or damaged.  And yet…things happened to my Jonah.  Not all of them have been good.  But he still is.

There are certain things a person just doesn’t forget.  Your first friend: Mine’s name was Tina. She was invisible and spent her days living in a mansion with her mother and then visiting her blind father in a shack by a large water-tank.(Even at five I was just a tad dramatic) I remember sobbing in my grandparents pop-tent admitting to my sister Missy, that she was in fact, gasp, make-believe.  Then there is your first haircut/perm what have you: Mine was a perm twisted and pinned together by my mom.  I remember it stunk and pulled and I looked very much like the lead singer from Twisted Sister when it was done.   And of course the first time being left out:  I was in first grade and was the only girl in my class who was not invited to a birthday party where they were going to see “Girls just want to have Fun.”  And I really wanted to! That was my first experience with that raw shaky feeling of rejection.

So maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised when my Jonah on the second week of school got in the car, his big blue eyes all welled up as he said, “I’m just so sad.  I can’t even tell you about my day.”  After a bit of prodding (okay, a lot) he said as tears escaped down his cheeks, “___ said he doesn’t want to be my friend anymore!”  As I kissed his salty cheeks and hugged him tight, I fought back my own tears.  I knew this wasn’t the last time he’d feel this quake in his heart, but I’d wished it could have been later. Like maybe when I was older and could be a wiser mom and he would be older and wiser than me.  But since I’m not older, I did the wisest thing I knew how.  I talked to him about feeling sad, and told him that maybe his friend was tired and just meant he didn’t want to play anymore today.  I said that sometimes friends say things even when they don’t mean it, and that I bet that tomorrow he’d probably want to play again. (This of course after I called a few experts — His Dad, my Mom, Em, and Christina)  And then after another few allowed kisses I did the next best thing I knew, distraction in the form of Strawberry Frappuccino’s and video games at Em’s.  I told myself all the things I’d heard:  this is normal, this is part of socialization, this is life.  But that little girl with the 80’s mullet in me couldn’t help but think, “It isn’t fair!”  But maybe that’s half the battle of parenting.  Figuring out that when our kids hurt it affects us and learning how to help them   and sometimes that means calling for help and swallowing the lump in our own throats.

It’s been a month since Jonah’s just-so-sad day at school, and he and ___ have played almost every day.  But it seems like weekly I’m seeing changes in him, and watching him experience all the pains that come with growing up.       And I feel a little quake in my heart getting ready to celebrate his sixth birthday tomorrow, knowing these firsts will become seconds then thirds, and someday my little boy won’t be so little anymore.

Later the month after that incident with the little boy, Jonah made a new friend, Nicholas.  Since that moment they have been inseparable.  It has been such a blessing for my son to have a friend he can share things with, interests and laughter, and can completely be himself with.  And then he made some other friends, his friend Quinlin and his friend Brailey.  The other boy? He and Jonah aren’t friends at all.  In fact, he wasn’t that nice of a kid. Fast forward five years… Jonah has played Football, and has fallen in love with the game of Baseball. And his dream is to be an announcer someday.  And he realized while it’s fun to shoot baskets he doesn’t have a future in Basketball.  He has played the piano at weddings and funerals, and in front of our church congregation. He got braces. He loves fishing and is such a joy in our house.   But sadly that lump in my throat, the one I had that with that first experience of rejection… it rested and stayed put a large part of this year, as my beautiful son was picked on by an unlikely source. As a parent I felt completely helpless, sleepless nights as I tried to figure out how to best remedy a situation that left my child self-conscious, shattered. I went to dinner with some friends, and sobbed, horrible ugly crying.  I watched my brilliant son who read me the newspaper when he was 4, began to think he was stupid.  It was almost as bad as the time he had his pants pulled down, intentionally in front of the entire First Communion class by another boy, and the parents didn’t even have the gall to apologize to me, after their son humiliated my son who cried for days. It made my blood boil and yet, I had to be an adult.  Even though I have fanaticized about it, I have still not punched that father in the face at Church – because I am a good Catholic, but I’ve had to go to confession many times thinking about it, and this was almost four years ago.  So after doing everything I could do to remedy it, I did the next best thing…I prayed.  And prayed.  And pleaded to God to give Jonah back some confidence, and give him some peace.  Especially after a night that he told me he thought our family theme for this year was perseverance…”Because it’s been a really hard year for me Mom.”

And suddenly some amazing things happened… Jonah won a Poetry Contest for the entire school district.  It was a huge deal, not because of the monetary prize but because of the boost it gave him.  Then a windfall of other big, good things, happened, and I saw something in his eyes that hadn’t been there for months: Joy. And not all of them were big, but Jonah has never expected big.  His entire life he has been appreciative of even the smallest things…so the big and small things happened.  And I saw his perseverance paid off.  The prayers paid off, and Jonah ended up having a good year, and what was a very hard situation ended up being resolved for the most part.

And now he’s off to middle school…

So, when he’s big there are some things I want him to remember… that when we found out we were pregnant his Dad swung me around and around.  And even though we had planned on waiting a few years to get pregnant (we made it a whole four months) that it was the best surprise of our lives.  I want him to remember how being open to God’s will and making it our own made us better people.  I want him to remember that the day he was born changed our lives forever, and how he was perfect looking with curly blond hair and bright blue eyes.  I probably won’t share for a loooong time that he came out sunny-side up which gave him that perfect look, but I will share how his eyes were wide open when he entered the world.  I want him to remember he’s been that way since day one, eye’s wide open, observing the whole world, a sponge learning and memorizing everything.  I want him to remember that I thank God every day that he is my oldest son.   That I think he is an amazing big brother.   And anyone would be blessed to be his friend.


And of course there are the things he won’t forget, because I won’t let him.  His first friend: Cathy, they’ve been friends since they were two and he has since called her “my girlfriend”.  His fierce loyalty towards her has been tested through different schools, schedules, and her pronounced love for Jesse McCarthy.  His first haircut:  The one and only time his dad was allowed to cut his hair he came out looking like he was a prisoner of war.  And maybe he’ll remember that first feeling of rejection, and then again maybe not. 

I know that Jonah will never forget this year. I know he won’t forget many of the things that transpired, but I think he would agree that he is stronger than he ever imagined.  He witnessed his parents fight for him, and he knows that we will always believe in him. All of our faith has grown.  I am so proud of him.   He and Cathy don’t talk anymore expect for a shy hello, but she wrote a paper about him this year, and I have hope for the future that they will become friends again.  He has a little Mohawk now, perfect baseball hair and has had the best hitting season yet in baseball, and does his own Aaron Rodgers move every time he has a good play. I spent the second half of his school year volunteering a lot, and have spent a lot of time with his class, and he always hugs me and smiles and laughs at my jokes…he seems proud to be my son, and those moments have made my entire year.  His laugh is the same, even though his feet are bigger than mine and he has to wear deodorant, his laugh is still a little boys.  And the sound of his laugh is one of my favorite things.  I always want to remember that, because he’s not a little boy anymore, and that’s hard for me to shake.

His birth changed my life.  It transformed me as a person. He taught me this year to never give up. My eleven year old taught me to persevere, even when you feel shattered.  And I thought I was the one teaching him…and yet he has taught me so much.

 I want him to remember is that he is a beloved Child of God, and with his birth our hearts shook wide open and have been brimming ever since.  After all there certain things you never forget.  And I could never forget him.  He’s my first.