What began as a friendly game of capture the flag amongst the neighborhood kids quickly turned a new direction as the older children took control.  The majority of them had played together in the same backyard for years, coming home to toss their bags in the house and run to the sanctuary of play.  Aside from the occasional argument over whose turn it was next, they gave and took turns and blows with general good humor.  The motley group of boys and girls ranged in ages and the bigger kids looked out for the little ones and parents young and old agreed that this was a great group of young people.

Lately, though there seemed to be a shift in attitude, as though with the onset of middle school the invisible lines were drawn and camps created.  Today the innocent game seemed to have a frenzied sense to it, as though there were an undercurrent running that no adult would be able to see or feel.  The hits a bit harder, the barbs a bit more cutting, tackles that were meant for touch only sound more violent, harsh.  Then the words, the comments riddle the air.

“Take that one, freak!  You’re going down tonight; I’ll make you wish you were like the rest of us.”

“I told you not to talk to me when I’m at that table with the rest of the gang; you’re not one of us.  Get that through your head.  You’re not welcome there.”

“Gawd, no!  I will never walk into that dance with you!  Dude, what is wrong with you!”

The barrage of complaints rain down on their fellow neighborhood player.  Where yesterday they traded “who’s your mama” jokes, today the jokes are replaced by hate and threats.  The ambush of rage spewed forth, these young teens choosing to bushwhack one of their own, to make them pay for something beyond their control.

“Hey, step off; I haven’t done anything to you!  What is your deal?  All I did was wave your way in the lunch line, is that a friggin’ crime?  You’ve only spent whole weeks at my house and vacationed with my family every summer.”

“You are a freak!  Get this through your head; you made your choice when you decided to “come out.”  You knew what would happen, man, you coulda rode the high all the way through school, and you had to declare who you are so the whole damn world would know.  You don’t think people wonder about me?  Man, you’re so dense!  It’d be better if you’d just transfer or just… Ah, hell.  I’m outta here.”

He took the rest of the group with him, leaving one alone, bushwhacked, bombarded, and beaten.  Maybe it would be better to transfer or, there are other options.  Yah, there are always other options, there is always another choice.

The hate, where do we learn it?  When does the familiar companionship of a neighboring game of tag become something sinister?  What motivates us to turn against each other so easily?  The blows of a tackle may heal and the bruises fade, but the words and the intentions remain.  Those don’t lose impact and can do far more damage than any broken bone or wounded ego.  The tapes play for a lifetime, shaping ideas of identity and limiting potential.  How unaware of the impact we have on one another.

The Creator looks at each of us with joy and love, unconditionally.  Where we see a flaw or imperfection, or a different way of behaving in the world, God sees pure perfection and potential.  All of creation is embraced with a love that knows no bounds, no barriers, and nothing can separate any of us from that perfect love.  It does not matter who we love, how we love, what we have done, said, or left undone; we are called and claimed as beloved children.  In that moment of conflict in the backyard, the love for every one of those kids overflowed from the Creator, the same love covered each of them and will continue to cover them no matter what happens tomorrow.  That unconditional and fierce love covers each of us, no matter the age, experience, past, present, or future.   That is an impact which can move mountains and tame even the most hateful tongues.  The impact of steadfast love now and forever holds true.

“If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me. If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God’s terms and no longer on the world’s terms, the world is going to hate you.
John 15:17-19


What is the response?

HatredThere is a scene in Mr. Holland’s Opus where Richard Dreyfus‘s wife learns that her son cannot hear and she is unable to communicate with him.  In frustration she talks to her husband, pouring out her anguish at not being able to talk to her son.  All she wants is to be able to talk to him and know that he knows what she is saying to him, “I want to talk, I want to talk to my son!”

I feel her anguish today.

My son has been diagnosed with ADD and a possible additional diagnosis which affects mood and personality.  I am unwilling to sentence him to the mood disorder as yet, I believe that growth and maturity will play some role in this in the future.  The ADD diagnosis fits and sticks.  Besides the “ring of fire” ADD tendencies is the superior mental and verbal intelligence he possesses, couple that with a highly developed intuition and perceptive ability and life here is hectic.  Hectic to say the least.

Tonight, I sat at the supper as usual and it was all I could do to keep from weeping. I watched as he slopped ketchup on his face, unaware of the obvious mess he was making.  Speeding through his meal, I sat listening to the tirade of topics and the mood swings happening right there in front of me.  When reprimanded for disrespectful behavior he turns the re-direction inward and begins self loathing conversation and then balling his hands into fists as he claims vehemently that we hate him.  Up from the chair he bolts to turn on the tv, then back again to snatch a bite of pizza roll, then off and running about some song lyrics, then he is screaming lyrics.  I wait patiently, hoping for a break in the action so that I might have some peaceful conversation.  It does not work, it rarely does.  I stare at my plate and wish for a quiet calm to overtake the house and blanket it in its warmth.  My husband tries in vain to ask me a question about my day and I have no idea how to answer amid the yelling and screaming that will eventually give way to an argument or fight between the brothers.

I look into my son’s eyes, so like mine.  A deep chocolate-brown full of emotion and intelligence.  I sob inwardly when I see them because so often he is motoring out of a place I cannot reach, an illness I cannot solve for him.  I know these upheavals will lessen as medicine doses level out and as he grows and matures.  It does not stop the hurt as I gaze at him.  I want to scream at the disease that commands his body and mind….I want to yell at it to leave my son alone, leave him in peace.  I want to talk to my son…I want to carry on a conversation with my son, I love him and it hurts to watch was has happened and continues to happen.  I fear what happens in his school day, I wonder what the future will look like for him, who are his friends–will they love him as I do?

I listen to the pain in his voice as he spews words of hate at himself or me.  I am afraid when he turns physical, he is pure energy and muscle and will overtake me in height soon.  I have a son that is 3 years younger than him and I am afraid for what may happen in the time to come as they engage in “brotherly love”.  More than the physical aspect, I struggle with what his self-image means at this stage.  I tears me apart to hear him scream that he hates himself and I must hate him too.  From that mindset, he quickly turns to running around, bouncing of walls and looking for something to throw, hit, kick, or wrestle to the ground.  There is a constant power struggle as he tries to thwart my authority as a parent and an adult.  He is intuitive to know exactly what button to push to send my emotions into the blender, when he has me in that spot, he turns on whip for all its worth.  Most of the time I am nonplussed–so he thinks. Most of the time I can shake it off in his presence, there are times when it hurts in a place I will never articulate to him.  Sitting here, watching him at supper I want to reach out and hold him.  I want to rescue him, snatch him up and run away from this and protect him.  I can’t.  It rips me apart in so many ways…I just want to fix it somehow.  I can’t.  I just want to talk to my son…just want…just.

Anyway, I have more to say, but I need to regroup so my little ones here do not see the tower of strength, named, mom–burst into tears.

If you are reading, thank you…I appreciate you letting me vent a minute or two.



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