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Sticks and Stones.

Kit went to his first dance tonight. Very different from the one Tio was at last month. A bigger space, not so crowded, and younger kids. I dropped them both off  to come back after I got Doc in bed Tish got out of work. I was there for most of it and, after two hours of loud music, stomping, running and laughter, we all drove home.

They got in the front door and Tio raised a high five saying, “Thanks for not being a total spaz tonight.”

Kit ignored the high five and backhanded compliment. Instead, he curled up on the sofa looking reflectively despondent. Even Gulliver didn’t jump up to sit in his lap, which is unusual because that dog loves the boy. I finished up a couple of things, asked a couple of perfunctory questions, got nods in return and then sat down with him. I wasn’t sure if I should prod or just sit quietly with him. We were silent for at least 20 minutes. An eternity in Kit time.

Finally, I leaned in and asked what happened and if I could help. He started to talk. It turned out for the few minutes I wasn’t there at the beginning of the dance a couple of kids started calling him names and telling his best friend that he shouldn’t hang around with him. It hurt deeply and Kit was in tears. A couple of teachers broke it up and set things straight.

Kit is very individual. He does things his own way. He likes to dress differently, play different things and think differently. Being unique makes him an easy target for the bullies and feebs at school. At his age, I was like him for very different reasons. I had a cleft lip that gave the bullies all the ammo they needed to beat on me. So I know what he’s going through and I know he doesn’t know why.

I wish Tio was more supportive but his own troubled relationship with Kit doesn’t help. He probably thought his cutting remark was a compliment. My brother’s had my back when I came home bruised or completely confused. There was no question that home was a safety zone for me. Kit doesn’t get that from his brothers.

I love the boy as if his heart was beating in my chest. I told him so and gave him hugs to feel better. That only helps some. He’s going to have to take some serious lumps as his school years go by. He’ll develop a thick skin but his heart and his already fragile ego will take some serious beatings.

We can’t protect our kids from everything there is out there and that’s got to be the biggest hurt there is for a parent.