Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Gift of Truth

"The greatest gift we give to anyone is our honesty..."  

--My friend Cindy

For the past 29 days, I have been participating in the 29-Day Giving Challenge. You can read all about my experience with the giving challenge by clicking here

The hardest gift to give - by far - was #27: The Gift of Truth. Here's the post I wrote about that gift:

For more than six months my son has been getting invited on playdates with another boy from his class. At first he wanted to go, but over time he began to say he didn't want to go. I tried to encourage him to go, thinking that perhaps he just needed time to get to know this boy in order to appreciate his virtues, but the more I encouraged, the less he wanted to go. 

Things continued to spiral downward with this kid asking for more and more play dates and my son becoming more and more insistent on NOT having play dates. We tried having them at our house (my son made it clear by his behavior that he did not want the other boy to be there and I felt bad), I tried going along to their house (my son played, but without enthusiasm). Finally, summer arrived and I was grateful for the chance to take a breather from this situation. 

But the first week of school this year it started again. Boy wants a play date with my son; my son does not want a play date with this boy. Boy insists. Son resists. I tried to put it off. "It's the first week of school," "We're busy," "Sorry can't today...." but the more I tried to put them off the more insistent both mom and boy became. 

I was beside myself. So torn between wanting to be a good member of my community and wanting to teach my son that he has the right to say "No," something I did not learn as a child. 

After receiving requests three days in a row I worried and worked over the problem all weekend long. Writing speeches about love and inclusiveness and making excuses and coming up with reasons. It was exhausting. I talked about it. I thought about it. I wrote about it. And finally I just had to do it: What I would tell anyone else to do. What I want my son to someday be able to do for himself. I spoke the truth with as much love as possible. 

I wrote the other mom an email and explained that my son just did not want to have a play date, that I was sorry if this was hurtful and that I hoped given time and space they could forge a friendship that worked for both of them. And then I hit send.

I don't know what is going to happen. I gave her the gift of truth. I hope she can receive it.

UPDATE: Less than five minutes after I sent the email I got an email back from this mother thanking me (with an exclamation point!) for telling her the truth. She was kind and compassionate, agreeing that this friendship just wasn't working for either of our boys and allowing that to be okay. 

All of the upset and worry and hand-wringing had been for nothing. My monkey mind got me again. Doh!

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