The other day, my son came home, eyes all welled up - he was struggling not to cry. When I asked the reason he looked so upset, he couldn’t control himself and amidst sobs, he told his friends made fun of him for playing ‘old’ games. For a moment, I didn’t know what to say. I simply hugged him and told it’s ok even though I knew he wasn’t ok.
I let him cry for a couple of minutes and then spoke to him to find out what really happened. It turned out they were teasing him for playing outdated games (gaming is one topic they talk non-stop at school, I guess) while they played ‘cool’ games on the mobile. He was upset also because they were trying to annoy him even though he tried to move away from them and avoid the situation. They kept on teasing and later tried to make up - even when he was not interested in talking to them. He ended the narrative saying - I would not talk to them ever!
I listened patiently and told him if that is what you want to do, it is ok with me. Try not talking for some days and see how it feels - if you feel ok not talking to your friends, then don’t talk. But, if you are unhappy not talking to them, perhaps you should talk to them. People act silly at times, they get carried away - it might not be that they want to hurt you. So, while you are right to feel sad at the way they behaved with you, if they are sorry, you should have it in your heart to forgive them - I said.
I asked him whether he was happy playing ‘old’ games. He said he liked them. So I told him - then it doesn’t matter if someone thinks you are uncool for playing those games. You do what you enjoy doing. You don’t have to stop playing those games because they think it is old or outdated. If you are happy, nothing else matters. Everyone has different tastes and interests. It is ok to be different.
I told him it is entirely up to him if he wants to be friends with them. However, if they are sorry, he should forgive them. Because holding a grudge will harm us more than anything. It may not be easy to forgive and forget. But, if we hold on to unpleasant things, it will make us bitter and unhappy.
A couple of hours later, one of the friends texted him to say sorry and my son told me he has decided to be friends with that boy again because he reached out. But, he was adamant he won’t forgive the other friend who didn’t reach out. He felt wronged and couldn’t forgive him (yet).
This morning, as he left for school, I told him it is ok if you don’t want to be friends with the other boy. But if he says sorry, he should accept it and move on. People make all kinds of mistake and might regret them later on. So, we should be gracious enough to forgive. If we don’t, we are no better than the person who hurt us. He nodded his head in agreement and left to school. I hope they makeup and have a great time in school.
I have tried to bring up my boys as people who are sensitive and kind to others. I think it is important to feel empathy towards others. So, whenever my son tells me he helped someone, I feel happy. I know he is a kind boy and would help others in any way he can. At the same time, I know he gets hurt when he doesn’t receive that same kindness from others. But I keep telling him that is all the more reason for him to be kind.
Anyway, this incident got me thinking. As I reflected, I knew I too was unkind many times in the past - sometimes through my silence, sometimes through words and often in my deeds. Of course, most of them were unintentional or due to my naivety. But that doesn’t mean I can redeem myself. And yet, I understand it is important to forgive myself because the more I hold on to it, the more I will be sucked into the whirlpool of negative emotions and low self-esteem.
So, as I tried to dispel the gloom of self-reproach and feeling terrible about the unkind things in the past by forgiving myself, I felt a weight lifting off my heart. As on a cue, the weather outside slowly turned sunny…