As I listen to my children bicker and fight over a kickball game in our basement, I am frustrated by the unkind words they use and the mean way they pick apart one another’s attempts to kick, run, and throw. It hurts me to hear them use such forceful language when it’s supposed to be a fun game.
What I have to remind myself is that their play is a way to learn the basics of the game, how to handle conflict, and ways to work with others while being competitive. Those viscous kickball games are growing opportunities for turning thrown stones into bridges for better play and successful communication in the future. (That doesn’t make their taunting any easier to hear though.)
Unfortunately, my kiddos’ emotional “rock collecting” has not been limited to the jabs and insults of their siblings. My children (like all kids) have come home with hurt in their eyes and frustration in their hearts from things said and done at school and sports practices. Seeing my kids hurt by the words and actions of others is probably the hardest part of being a parent. These challenges have forced me to dig deep into my repertoire of comfort and advice, but also add to the School of Hard Knocks’ curriculum as my children earn their diplomas in adolescence.
“When people throw rocks, you can either build walls or bridges.
Be a bridge builder”
– Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Shouting at the Rain, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, is a story of a young lady, being raised by her grandmother, named Delsie. The plot occurs over a drama-filled summer where Delsie learns that people change as they grow up, and often those changes come as a result of hurtful words and actions from some so-called friends. After one particularly embarrassing incident, Grammy tries to sooth Delsie’s hurt with this advice: “When people throw rocks, you can either build walls or bridges. Be a bridge builder.” She understood that her Grammy was a “bridge builder,” but it was up to Delsie to decide if she was going to repair the broken friendship or throw hurt back at her former friend. In the end Delsie decided to build a bridge in a different direction and found a solid friendship with others. I have to hope that my kiddos are able to build some healthy solutions of their own.
It doesn’t matter what phase of life we find ourselves. We still have to figure out what we are going to do with those pesky sticks and stones that hurt more than our bones. Often the hurt we feel bleeds into our actions and words directed at others. It’s up to us to make that overflow filled with compassion, kindness, or patience, because we definitely don’t want to put up walls where they are not deserved or needed.
Today as you consider the parts of your life that are rocky. I encourage you to build something positive. Let your efforts bridge gaps and connect you with healing, opportunity, and strength. There is nothing better you can become than a bridge builder.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. Another of my favorite quotes from Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s book is, “Chips and dents make a person more interesting.” I totally agree. Our bruises and scars give us character.
November Bloggers BeLOnG Session – Monday, November 8th at Missouri River Regional Library 6:30 PM-7:30 PM
The session can be joined in person or virtually.
Here’s the link to register for this free session https://www.mrrl.org/index.php/events/bloggers-belong-1