Extending Grace

Extending Grace

It’s taken me a while to gather the right words for this post. But I think I’ve found them.

Yesterday we drove up to Kansas City for Nellie’s ophthalmology appointment. While we were waiting she was sitting in a little area watching Mickey Mouse with another little boy. At this point, it’s relevant to know that this little boy clearly had special needs. While in that space, which we could clearly see into, this little boy threw his bag of snacks at Nellie’s face and then slapped her hard enough for the whole room to hear.

Immediately, the boy’s mom was mad and going to get him. And Bryan picked up Nellie. The mom was repeatedly telling him “we don’t hit” and the like. Nellie was crying and her cheeks were red enough for us to be concerned. And then he said, to his mom “are you happy? I slapped her!” She was not happy. And, to be honest, neither was I. What or who could have possibly prompted him to say something like that? But I didn’t say anything. And I didn’t look in their direction because I knew my face would say what my mouth wasn’t.

Overall, I’m pretty proud of myself for how I handled the whole situation. I didn’t get overly upset. I didn’t say anything to the mom other than “she’ll be okay” while she profusely apologized. And believe me, that is NOT what I wanted to do. I wanted to be angry at this mother. But I wasn’t.

The part of my reaction that I would hope others would also have is that I extended grace to this mom. What if it was my child doing the hitting? How would I want to be seen by another parent? Especially if I was apologizing for my child’s behavior.

We can only control so much of what our children do. We can teach them over and over again that hitting isn’t kind, but they might still do it. I mentioned earlier that this little boy has special needs and I’m sure there was some level of not understanding. I can only go by what I know. And what I knew was that this little boy has special needs and that may cause him to not understand appropriate social interactions. I knew that his mother was upset with him and felt bad for what he had done.

Nellie wasn’t severely hurt. And it’s not even the worst thing to happen to her. The very kind office staff gave her some coloring pages and crayons and she stopped crying pretty quickly.

I’m writing all of this is to say that there are some things that are out of our control. And how other children act around our own is one of those. We can only do so much. We were close to her, we could see her and we were quick to pick her up when it happened. But there was absolutely no way we could have anticipated that incident. So, instead of being visibly upset with a mother who was also upset, I reminded her that these things happen and my daughter was going to be okay.

And, honestly, it made me feel better knowing I wasn’t stewing in anger all day. I’ll definitely be more aware now, but I also have to remember how I want to be treated if Nellie is ever the kid dishing out the punches – or slaps.

Here’s a sweet photo of Nellie & daddy drawing with chalk after we got home.

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