Monday, May 18, 2015
"I'd forgive them even if they didn't apologize, that's what you're supposed to do."
Some of you may already know, but Rowan had an unfortunate situation happen at one of his soccer games a couple weeks ago. The other team was making fun of him pretty badly during the game. They said some rather mean things to him, about how badly he played. It was obviously upsetting to him, but he held his head high the entire game, and told his coaches afterwards, who then spoke to the other team's coaches right away, and they said they would talk to their boys about it. After the game, Rowan told me, "It's okay, they don't know what I've been through." Of course, it makes us feel worse, that a kid who fights every day of his life to stay healthy and out of the hospital would be picked on like this. But to me, it also didn't matter at all what he had been through. While his health and physical limitations do obviously affect his play, I wouldn't want a healthy, normal 8 year old to be picked on by his peers either.
Now, that could have been the end of it, but thankfully it was not. The other team's coaches contacted me by email the next day apologizing for the behavior of their boys, and promising to take it seriously. I read their apology to Rowan and he said, "I'd forgive them even if they didn't apologize, that's what you're supposed to do. I just don't want other kids to go through that too though." I asked him if there was anything else he wanted the boys to know, or anything he wanted to reply, and he said, "Tell them that they don't need to be mean. It's actually easier to be nice, and it makes everything better when people are nice to each other."
I was very proud of Rowan's attitude, strength of character, and his ability to forgive (which was easier for him than it was for me, if I'm being honest:). And of course, without fail, Rowan always finds the bright side of things... He told me, "There was one good thing about it, at least I know my team really cares about me. Xavier told me not to listen to them, and to go tell the coaches. And my whole team was mad and sad that the kids were saying those things to me. So, at least I know my team has my back."
This past Saturday, the other team and their coach came to the second half of Rowan's game, and brought him some tokens of their apology at the end of the game. Rowan shook each one of their hands as they said they were sorry, and said "thank you". Brian thanked them for being real men. It meant a lot to us that the coaches took the bullying seriously. These kids are only 8-9 years old, and it is so important that they all learn how to lift each other up, rather than tear each other down, or things will only get worse in the future.
They presented Rowan with a soccer ball and told him that they hoped he kept playing and maintained his love of the game.
One of the coaches is a doctor, so they also gave him a surgical cap that said "Follow your dreams."
Finally, they gave him a really nice card...
But, what was inside the card, was the best gift of apology they could have given him. The team members had written positive statements about Rowan, or words of encouragement for him, with a note asking him to please remember these words instead of the mean ones.
It really made Rowan happy to hear all of their kind words. As he was walking into the house he said, "I'm going to go put this soccer ball on my special shelf. And i'm going to wear this surgical cap when Dr. Kidd does my surgery next week."
"And like I said, I'd forgive them even if they didn't apologize, but I think they learned their lesson. So now I'm happy because they probably won't pick on any other kids, and that's the most important thing. I'm glad it was me instead of someone else."
And you know, he means that...he really, really means it. He would have rather been picked on himself, if it meant they could all learn a lesson, than for it to have happened to someone else. I wish we could all be more like that...selfless, forgiving, Christ-like.
Thank you again, to the coaches and players of the other team, for being men of integrity, for apologizing, and for turning this bad situation into a good one.