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It seems we have our very own Boo Radley several houses down.  We recently learned there is a reason we’ve never seen her.   Word on the street (literally) is that she has been under house arrest for attempted assault on another neighbor. It was evidently a case of mistaken identity.  She believed a restraining order she had against someone was being violated and took things into her own hands. Ms. Radley supposedly had several strikes against her already related to this grudge match, and house arrest was the next judicial step.  I’m sure we don’t know the entire story but whatever that may be, I remember thinking “She must not be a very happy person.”  I honestly haven’t given it much thought since then until…..

I was walking Trinity home from playing at a neighbors house.  As we walked past the aforementioned house Trinity declared, “Mommy, did you know that a woman lives in that house who is a real, live, witch and if you go to her house she will eat you?”  My first attempts to reassure her that this was most certainly NOT true fell on deaf ears and were met with increasingly loud insistence.

“Millie said so, mommy.”

“NO. It’s really true. Millie said so.”

“It’s TRUE, mommy!  MILLIE. SAID. SO!”  (Did I mention Millie is FOUR?)

I realized two things at this moment. This discussion would be more involved than our walk down the street in FRONT of the poor woman’s house could warrant.  And, perhaps the most worrisome parental realization as of late: From here on out, Mommy and Daddy’s words will forever be measured against what she is hearing from her peers and we are no longer automatically coming out on top.

After prayers tonight we had a chance for one of those talks that, as a parent, you can only hope and pray takes root in your child’s heart.  Trinity has a great capacity to care for others and their feelings. I tried to use this to help her understand how wrong it is to spread rumors or say mean things about other people.

Have you met her, Trinity?

No.

Imagine how she would feel if she heard you saying those things about her. I think it would really hurt her feelings. We are called to love others and care about them and their feelings too.

Mommy, I DO care about people’s feelings!

I know, sweetheart.  You are very good at caring about other people.  It’s important that we care about ALL people, whether we know them or not.  And if someone isn’t very friendly that might be because their heart is already hurting so it’s extra important that we be loving to them.  Repeating things we’ve heard others say is called a “rumor” and it’s very hurtful.  It makes them sad and it makes Jesus sad to see us treat others that way.

Mommy?  What if Millie says it again?

Well, you can choose to say “That’s not very kind. We shouldn’t talk about people like that.”  And you can choose to be different by not participating in any conversations where someone is saying something hurtful about others. 

As I reflect on our little walk through a topic that is so much deeper than her young heart could possibly understand, I can only hope that these fleeting talks make a bigger difference than we can yet know.  I know Millie does not have a cruel heart. She is simply four.  However,  this small incident projected this mother’s thoughts to all the years of peer pressure that lay ahead.  How do I make sure my daughter is not afraid to be different?  I don’t know. But maybe tomorrow would be a good day to bake some cookies together and drop them off in our own Boo Radley’s mailbox.  Maybe she’s just misunderstood.

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