Every day they give some report of what he did or didn’t do.
"The bad boy was there today."
“When he lays down while the teacher reads, they say, ‘Don’t do that.’”
“He got a red face today.”
Preschool is their first foray into the wide world beyond our doors. I imagine “the bad boy” is both fascinating and frightening in some way – he’s clearly caught their attention.
I’ve noticed the “bad boy” too, on field trips and at pick-up and drop-off. He sometimes breaks down and won’t listen to his weary mother, he seems to have some behavioral issues, probably a diagnosis.
This morning, tugging rain boots and coats on, they tell me again about “the bad boy.”
“Does the “bad boy” have a name?” I ask.
“Me don’t know it,” Levi says, crinkling his nose in thoughtful concentration.
“Is he always bad?” I ask.
“Usually he nice to me, but one time he take-ed my toy,” Levi replies.
“Isn’t his name . . . .? Let’s call him . . . . , let’s not call him the “bad boy,” I suggest, remembering the boy’s name. “You wouldn’t want to be called “bad boy,” would you?”
The moment passes in the rush to get out the door on time, but I continue to think about “the bad boy.”
He’s no more than four years old and already my boys have labeled him based on his behavior. I wonder how the teachers’ responses may have influenced the way my boys perceive him, and I’m aware of the almost imperceptible sense of comfort they seem to get from knowing that they are not bad like him, they are good.
My heart breaks for this boy, for the burden of being “bad.”
And my heart breaks also for my own children who bear the burden of needing to be “good.”
I want them to be known by name, not by deed.
I want them to remember to see themselves and others in light of wholeness rather than brokenness, to understand in some way that they are loved and that love casts away all labels – love calls us, always and only, by name.
Linking with #TellHisStory.