The call from my son came in as I drove down the highway to pick up my sixth grade grandchild. Thought I should warn you he got into big trouble today at school. He said something to a girl she really took offense to. She reported him and he ended up spending the day in the in-school suspension room.”
“What in the world did he say to her?” I asked.
“I have no idea, but he was probably imitating something he’d heard on YouTube. You know how it is, Mom. All middle school boys are idiots.”
Well, that’s true. I had vivid memories of the wild and wooly middle school years of the son I was talking to.
Still, I worried what to say to my grandson. I figured the last thing he needed was anyone else piling on him about his bad behavior, but I also didn’t want to send the message that it was okay to disrespect girls.
As it turned out, my grandson was totally uninterested in discussing the matter with me. “I hear you had a bad day,” I ventured, after he’d buckled up and we’d pulled away from the school.
“Yeah, I really don’t want to talk about it,” he said in a shaky voice. “The assistant principal—he helped me.”
I said a silent prayer of thanks for assistant principals who are good at communicating with middle school boys and kept driving.
Truthfully, part of me was relieved to be off the hook for searching for the right words to say. Besides, my son was an amazing dad, and I knew he’d follow up on the situation.
But I also felt a little bereft. Because my grandson had lived with us for the first two and a half years of his life, we’d always been extra close. I wanted to continue to be that loving supportive presence in his life. But what could I do if he shut me out of the conversation?
Turns out I was still able to give him something he needed. When we pulled into his driveway and I shut the car off, he leaned into me. I threw my arms around him, and he clung tightly to me. His shoulders shook, and I knew he was crying.
It was a long hug. When he finally pulled away, he murmured, “Thanks, Mee-Ma,” and pushed the car door open.
Sometimes no words are necessary or wanted. A guy just needs a hug.