Tuesday, September 6, 2011
We decided to go camping for the holiday weekend. The thing I find with camping is that a whole trip can be made or broken by your campsite neighbors. I always have a little trepidation as we arrive. Will there be a group of twenty somethings with their music pounding all hours? Will it be a sweet old couple who I feel we might disturb with our two energy filled children?
We pulled up to find another family. I relax at the site of two adults and two kids. The eight year old is not quite so happy to note they are yucky boys but I, for now, am happy. We exchange hello's and all seems well. The children begin the meeting new kids ritual of shy smiles, staring and drawing circles on the ground with their feet.
We start to set up camp. My uh-oh antenna raises within five minutes.
"GAVIN NO!" "GAVIN STOP!" "GAVINNNNNNNN!"
There is a small bush and about three feet separating our sites. They must know we are hearing everything.
Gavin appears to be about six or seven. He also appears to be in trouble permanently. I begin to feel sad for him almost instantly. Over the course of the weekend Gavin is in trouble for getting dirty and touching things - any thing. He is shouted at for trying to help, for not helping, for being in the way, for wandering off. From my view he is crying out to be included. He just wants some attention. His rock collection which he brings with such enthusiasm to show his Dad is disregarded with,
"They are rocks Gavin."
I watch him hang his head when his Dad speaks to him and my heart aches when he starts singing to himself 'Jesus Loves Me This I know' while standing, lonely, under a tree.
He seems to irritate his parents simply by his presence and to my absolute horror is slapped several times by his father for minor things. My children are confused to see this and my husband and I struggle to explain. I want so badly to go over there and talk with them.
Do they not see how they don't include him and how much he wants to help and be a part of things?
Do they not see that he is too young to wait quietly in a chair for 30 minutes while his meal cooks? Could they not give him some jobs to do?
Do they not know that questions like: Why did you do that - mean nothing to a six year old?
Do they not hear how they never use a kind or loving tone when they speak to him?
Do they not see how sad he is?
Do they not see that they treat his older brother very differently?
I know that the answer to my questions is no. If they did - they wouldn't do it.
I know that there is more to this story, that I will never know. I know that I saw a snapshot of this family and shouldn't judge them on it.
I also know that they held a mirror up to me. I can also be out of patience for my children. I have told them off for ridiculous things like getting dirty when staying clean is impossible. I have also refused to let my child help because I don't want to deal with the mess that is inevitable.
My children enjoyed sweeter, more patient parents this weekend because of Gavin - who we said a little prayer for.