When I thought about how I was going to share this story, I ran into a sort of dilemma. I wanted to make sure I used the most appropriate word to describe what my son had experienced, what he had accomplished, and how he was feeling. I have always had issues with writing, and have had to put constant effort in being able to express what I was thinking in my head. I know now, that it will take several words to capture this great moment in my son’s life. Really, it was a great moment for all of us. We thank you for stopping bye, and hope you enjoy!
It was a late day at work, and I was closing out a few things in the office when my phone rang. On the other end of the line was a very upset wife, one that I don’t see very often. There was an issue at the school involving my oldest son that she was absolutely furious about. Now, my two boys are as normal as any other young men you will come across. They laugh, run, play, make mistakes, and have lapses in judgment. But one thing I do know, is that those two young men have a keen understanding of character, and know what sound character looks and feels like. They have explored what values are, have an understanding of what their values are, and have even looked at whether or not their beliefs are in line with their values. Not every 10 year old you run into will be able to say they have done any of that, but this one, this one knows what he stands for.
She went on to tell me what happened, and I must admit, I had a hard time keeping my composure – but I did.
For anyone who has met my son, they know that he has a love for reading, and learning new things. This is most likely because being able to read was one of my sons earliest, but biggest triumphs. I remember spending hours with him at our kitchen table, staring at page after page of words that just wouldn’t click in his head. Then one day, all of a sudden, it was as if a light bulb had come on. In fact, it was more like it exploded, because as of that day, we can’t stop that young man from reading everything he gets a hold of. Never did we think that this would be held against him.
One morning as my wife was rushing our boys out the door for school, she picks up my sons backpack to move it out of the way. When she felt how heavy it was, she opened it and found a ridiculous amount of books! When asked about them, my son stated he had been reading them, and forgets to turn them in when he’s done. This is easily believable. I see that boy with a new book almost every other day. So, my wife dumps the books out, which makes a huge difference in the weight of the bag, and decides to bring them to the school herself. When the stack of books get returned to the teacher, an issue arises. My son is pulled into the hallway by his head teacher (the teachers work in teams at his school) and is confronted about the books my wife had just returned. Soon, the audience grows larger. There were three adults standing over my son as his integrity is being questioned. In his own words, he felt like had “been robbed of [his] dignity”. My son, being the person he is, decided not to talk back. Instead, he remained silent, and took it all in. When he got home, he spilled his heart out to my wife, and spoke about the situation like we’ve never heard him speak before. The amount of frustration, and intensity in his words brought my wife to tears. He was truly hurt! He loves going to school, and absolutely loves to read. He’s been on the honor roll the entire year, and all this made him wonder, why was he being accused of being a book thief? After being told about this, I spent a good amount of time thinking about my next course of action. It was a quiet ride home – I needed to keep a clear head.
When I arrived home, we had dinner, and then I sat down with my son to talk about his issue. Sure enough, he articulated to me just how upset he was about everything, and how he felt disgraced for being accused of stealing. I could definitely see an insane amount of emotion coming from my son. More than I have ever seen before. At that time, I had pmany urges, some of which were primal – I wanted blood! However, I thought I’d let my son decide what he felt we should do. He’s not going to be my baby forever, and this felt like a good time to allow him to decide how he’d stand up for himself. There were concerns, of course.
“What if I get in trouble?”
“What if they think I’m being disrespectful?”
So, we asked how he felt about writing a letter.
“A letter”, he asked.
He was against the idea initially. However, after some explanation, he felt it may just do the trick. You see, my son wanted to express exactly the extent of his frustration, how upset he was, and even embarrassed, but he didn’t want to cause a scene.
Not every 10 year old you run into will be able to say they have done any of that, but this one, this one knows what he stands for.
So, he began typing. With tears running down his face, his fingers pecked away at the keyboard, and to my amazement, the page filled up quickly. I’m not sure where all this came from, but there was a great deal of power behind the words he wrote that night. The following day, though nervous, he worked up to courage to deliver the letter. He initially addressed his letter to his homeroom teacher, a teacher he trusts deeply and feels very comfortable with. He didn’t want his accuser to re-engage him on the issue. But by the time he was done spilling his feelings out in his writing, he added the caveat to feel free to share his letter with whoever was interested.
The next two days of school were stressful for him. He was expecting some form of retaliation, some sort of conflict. This changed a great deal, however, when my wife received a very insightful phone call – my son was there to hear the whole thing. As it turns out, the letter moved his teacher a great deal, almost to the point of tears. After a long discussion, it was certain that my son had sent a clear message, and had brought to light just how much of an impact the message those teachers sent by cornering him and accusing him had. Not two days later, we were contacted by the school principal, a person we have a great deal of respect for. By phone call, and email, we were assured that the situation would be addressed, and that the behavior displayed that day was not in keeping with the traditions of their school.
We showed my son the email, and we let him hear that voice mail. To be honest, I will fail you all in describing just how much this meant to him. The rush of emotion that filled the room as the huge weight he had been carrying was lifted from his shoulders. Let’s just say, this was an astronomical move for my son. His confidence was through the roof, and he’s carried himself differently since that day. He had won. He stood up for himself in a situation which in his eyes seemed as if the odds were against him, and was successful. He had been vindicated, and it was an amazing thing to watch. I must say, it is not something I will soon forget.
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