I sat across from him — a handsome young man — and listened to him speak. The restaurant around us was noisy with the lunchtime crowd, but it made no difference. We were in our own world. It was our special time. He told me about his work, his wife and how his kids were doing. I listened attentively in awe of the confidence, with which he spoke and the love in his voice.
“And the little one?” I asked.
“He’s doing fine.”
“And making friends?”
There was a slight pause. “He’s finding his way. He needs to do it on his own. He’ll figure it out one way or another. I remember,” he continued, “when I was in the third grade, I wanted so badly to fit in, to be one of gang … you know, the boys, who are cool and loud and always seem to be having fun. Their leader was a kid called Tom. He was the best soccer player on the team and he was also smart and good-looking. At eight years old, I was convinced that if I could only befriend him, I would be accepted.”
“And?” I asked, “What happened?”
“For some reason he didn’t like me,” the young man smiled reminiscing about events that happened over thirty years ago, “and he wasn’t very nice to me. I tried so hard to be like him — to tell jokes and tease the girls — but most of the time, he just ignored me, and when he did relate to me, I was the butt of his horsing around. And once, I even got into trouble with Miss Hannover, just so he would think I was cool — and all he did was laugh and make fun of me. I was hurting. Boy! I was hurting and you did nothing. When I told you what was happening, and believe me, that wasn’t easy, all you said was, ‘You’ll figure it out.’”
I smiled. I too remembered it well. I remembered Tom and Miss Hannover and how this handsome, confident, and loving young man sitting across from me, as an eight year old groveled and humiliated himself time after time, just so one kid called Tom would like him.
I watched my son fall, and despite the stabbing pain in my heart, I stood back and did nothing.
“And then one day,” I continued the tale where he left off, “You came home from school all excited that Tom had invited you over. I had tickets to a play, but of course you didn’t want to come with me and your sister. You were going to Tom’s.
It just so happened that the theater was right across from Tom’s house. While we were waiting to go in, you suddenly appeared. ‘What happened?’ I asked.
‘He’s not home,’ you said and shrugged your shoulders.
‘Our luck!’ I said cheerfully handing you your ticket.”
As we entered the theater, I noticed a group of kids at the candy counter. It was Tom and his band of followers. I don’t know if my son saw them as well, but one thing I know for sure, he had finally figured it out.
It’s time to take control of our lives.
It’s Time 2 Lead!
It’s time to THRIVE!
Originally published at medium.com