One of the little boys staying with us is nine and tough as nails. We'll call him H. He's been suspended for fighting at school a couple of times so far this year and was suspended again Friday for more of the same.
I've learned, in this ministry, my heart is drawn to just this kind of kid. They're the ones who have a great sense of humor, will actually talk to you and tell you how they're feeling but who have hair-trigger tempers and can go from zero to sixty faster than you can say, "SELF-CONTROLISAFRUITOFTHESPIRIT!!!". From what I've seen, they want desperately to be kids but circumstances have forced them to grow up fast, and their self-preservation trumps wisdom every time.
Sunday night, H. was picking pretty hard on his younger brother and Graham had enough. Graham is sweet as buttermilk pie but scrappy and defended the cause of the weak. He tackled this boy who is three years older than him and bigger and H. proceeded to flip him over and start to beat the tar out of my baby.
Both were hysterical but, in the process of calming H. down, I saw something I didn't expect. He was crying uncontrollably and he kept saying, "I want my mommy!"
Of course he did. It killed me. He's just a baby. It was as if he'd gotten away from himself. As if he didn't want to hit Graham. As though he knew Graham was sticking up for his brother like he should have been doing but defending himself superceeded doing the right thing.
After some cooling off at Mindy and Garrett's, we had a long talk and apologies and forgiveness offered from both boys.
A day later, before Graham was going to bed, H. drew this picture and put it on Graham's pillow.
It says, I'm sorry and Best Friends.
In return, Graham wrote F.R.I.E.N.D.S in Bendaroos on a book and put it on H.'s pillow.
Monday, I asked H. if he thought we should go 'clear the air' with the boy he'd fought with on Friday resulting in his suspension. They have grown up together in the neighborhood and had always been friends. Didn't he think it was worth talking through. He said he did and when could we go. He asked several times a day for two days then, yesterday, Trey took him over.
Both boys apologized, shook hands, and did what neither have seen modeled for them by the men in their lives. They each took responsibility and righted a wrong.
Today, H. was back in school. Hoping he didn't have any more altercations, I asked him how his day was. He said it was o.k.
Just o.k.? When pressed, he said he didn't like what they served for lunch.
It made him fart.
Baby steps, people. Baby steps.