Pecking away…

Where does the title of this post come from? My childhood memories of when my grandmother would buy baby chickens. They were darling little balls of yellow–but if one of them looked weak or had a drop of blood, it was doomed. The rest of the chicks would peck away at it until it died.

If Grandma saw it happening in time, she would rescue the chick, but often it was too late. The chick had been damaged too much, and would end up dying.

I was thinking about this yesterday when I picked up my grandson from his after-school program. He is at that vulnerable age–finishing middle school–and sometimes I think he is one of those baby chicks that have been constantly pecked at.

He has family who loves him–parents and step-parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles… Even within that family, though, there are times he has been damaged by issues beyond his control–mother and step-mothers basically abandoning him. His father has always been there, but there have also been frictions between them that have not made the relationship easy, even though there has been deep love.

He has lost far too many people he has loved through death and abandonment. He is 14–and in those 14 years, he has lost at least 12 loved ones.

This year has been difficult in many ways. At a time when hormones and emotions run high–and it’s a challenge for kids in completely healthy situations to deal with them–he’s had to try to learn how to express them in healthy ways. He hasn’t always succeeded…we’ve dealt with the school and hospitals far too often this year.

But things seem to be getting better. However, just as he’s learning better how to deal with emotions, his peers seem to be stepping up the pecking. Yesterday he called because he had been picked on all day, and he was tired of it. Picked on…because he is a gentle soul…because he dresses like he wants to dress (which isn’t necessarily the “cool” way)…because he’s shown that he’s vulnerable in the past.

There are too many children who seem to be like the baby chick that has shown weakness…too many children who are picked on because they don’t fit in for various reasons.

As adults, we haven’t always been good examples ourselves. But that has to change. We have to show by example that we can look past appearances…that we can value our diversity (and enjoy it)…and help the pecking (bullying) to stop so that our kids can survive and thrive.

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