Wednesday, September 14, 2011

gray matter

My Ian has always had such a soft heart.

When he gets in trouble, when he knows he deserves it, he takes his punishment with a hard swallow and sometimes a quiet tear. Mostly, it hurts his heart to know he's disappointed me and his dad. On the flip side, if he thinks he doesn't deserve it, or thinks the punishment is unfair, and especially if another just-as-guilty party is getting off scott free, he comes unraveled and fights tooth and nail for justice. The kid's right-and-wrong meter is fine-tuned. It's hard for him to see gray matter in his black-or-white world.

He knows that no matter what, I won't stand for lying. If I can count on Ian for anything, it's to tell me the truth. Aidan, not so much. I have to wonder about his honesty sometimes. But Ian... never. He knows how much it hurts me, to be lied to, and for that reason, he just won't allow himself to go there.

He loves his friends. He wants nothing more in this world than to have friends and to spend time hanging out doing Ian-and-friends types of things, which includes Legos, computer gaming, kickball, football, drawing cartoons, and lots and lots of giggling. Oh - and birthday parties. That boy loves a good party.

Which is why it bothered him to learn that one of his friends had a birthday party this summer and didn't invite him.

Ian asked his friend about it, and his friend said, "Well, see, I only invited two people." That made Ian feel better, though he was still sad to have been left out. But he accepted it and moved on. THEN he learned the truth, as other friends began talking about the party. There had been more than two. Ian had definitely been left out, and he was crushed.

When I got home from work today, he came straight to me, looked me in the eye, and said, "Mom. I had to knock Gregory off my friend list today." Then his eyes brimmed up and he looked down at his feet, trying not to give in to the tears.

"What on earth?" I asked. "Why?"

"Because he lied to me," he said softly. Then he told me all about the birthday party.

He understands that Gregory was trying to spare his feelings, but it doesn't matter. He was lied to, and he hates that feeling.

I also feel bad for Gregory, though. He was trying to soften the blow, and honestly, I think the poor kid was in a hard place himself. See, his Mom wanted us to invite Gregory over all of last school year. She dropped hints that she wanted a play date, but we never offered. It's not because we didn't want to. We're just so... and it makes me cringe to admit this... so busy. I hate that it's true. I don't want to be one of "those" families. But here we are. And it's not even the family... it's ME. It's my work schedule. I give too much of myself to it. I don't know how NOT to. I feel burdened by the responsibility I have there, and the lack of anyone else to do what needs to be done. I'm not alone - this is the dilemma of every single person who gives their life to working for a small nonprofit. But I have to find balance. I really believe that Ian was left off the birthday invitation list because we never invited Gregory over last year.

Even so... Ian could've handled the truth.

It's the lie that hurt him so. He understands why he wasn't invited. That part is black and white. It's the gray matter - the lie - that he's struggling with.

My heart hurts for him.
And I hate that in some roundabout way, it all comes back to me.