Phoebie’s school bus pulled up to the driveway and the first thing the driver said to me was, “Your daughter is crying.” Crying? She usually comes home in a very good mood.
Phoebie came to the exit in tears and said, “Xxx said some unkind words to me. That’s why I am crying.” Because she was crying, I decided to carry her instead of asking her to walk. It was a good thing that my mum had come over to help with the kids. Both my niece (whom I am babysitting) and my son were home with my mum, so I had some time alone with Phoebie.
The child that Phoebie mentioned had said unkind words to her gets off the school bus at the same place. I was tempted to ask the child what happened but I decided not to. After all, I wasn’t there when things happened and it could have been that Phoebie had heard her friend wrongly.
I decided to talk to Phoebie instead. Before we went home, I sat with Phoebie at the fitness corner downstairs.
“What happened, Phoebie? What unkind words did xxx say to you? What made you upset?” I asked.
“Xxx said unkind things to me and I didn’t like it, so I cried,” Phoebie answered.
“What did xxx say?” I asked again.
“I forgot what she said,” was Phoebie’s reply.
At that point, I was really glad that I didn’t jump the gun and asked the other child about it and had chosen to speak to my own child instead.
“Phoebie,” I said, “You know, sometimes friends may say some unkind words but they may not mean what they say. I don’t know what xxx said to you but it’s over now. It’s alright to be upset because you didn’t like what xxx said. Now it’s over. Do you think you still want to be friends with xxx?”
“Okay, then let’s move on from here. Move on means we forgive xxx and then you start afresh and be friends again. Would you like to do that?” I said.
Phoebie nodded again.
There and then, it suddenly struck me. If I had chosen to see Phoebie’s crying as a tantrum and had just brushed the crying aside, she wouldn’t have told me what had upset her. She wouldn’t have known that I will be her listening ear and the confidante she needs.
It was the same thing that had happened while I was growing up. I never felt like I could talk to my parents and had always confided in friends instead. At that very moment, I made a quick decision that I wanted Phoebie to know that I will always be here for her.
“Phoebie, I want you to know that Mama is always here for you. So are Papa and Didi. If there is something or someone that upset you and you need to talk, we are here for you. If someone made you angry and you need to share, we are here for you. If you are happy about something, we want to be happy with you too. So if something or someone upset you in school, you can always come and talk to Mama, Papa or Didi. Of course, Didi is too young to understand now, but someday, he will be old enough to listen,” I told Phoebie.
“Why?” Phoebie seemed surprised at what I said.
“Because we love you, and we are always here for you,” I assured her.
From the crying face just minutes ago, Phoebie broke into a smile and we held hands as we walked home.
I may be thinking a little too far, but I know that if I am interested in my child’s life, I want her to know that. I don’t want her to think that I don’t care about her joys and sorrows. I want her to feel safe about confiding in me. I pray that by letting her know, she will always feel safe at home and will not fall into bad company when she is older.
Growing up, I never felt like I could talk to my parents about anything, whether happy or sad. That drove a wedge between us and I always felt misunderstood as an adolescent. I don’t want my children to feel the same way I did, and I want them to know they can always count on me when they need someone to talk to.