Feeling Zen All Over

My son admitted to me on the weekend that he is feeling very nervous about going back to school on Wednesday after a two week break. The thought of the bullies lurking in the shadows behind the school gate are preying on his mind.

‘But I am trying to be Zen about it,’ he said.

At first I thought he’d been talking to an old surfer mate of ours, Jono, for whom discussing his Zen-like state is practically his only past time.

To my surprise I found Nick had been reading an old book of mine on the writings of the Dalai Lama.

He had put a stick-it note next to the following passage with the words :


‘When we are faced with an enemy, a person or group of people wishing us harm, we can view this as an opportunity to develop patience and tolerance. We need these qualities; they are useful to us. And the only occasion we have to develop them is when we are challenged by an enemy. So, from this point of view, our enemy is our guru, our teacher. Irrespective of motivation, from our point of view enemies are very beneficial, a blessing.”

When I read this I was beset with guilt that my boy has to deal with people who are treating him badly. In my non-Buddhist, non-Zen-like heart I’m not sure the boys picking on Nick are worthy of any degree of patience or tolerance. Yet I am proud of the maturity he is displaying in addressing this and have to take heart from his willingness to do something about a situation many would run from.

As I closed the book the stick-it note fell out. Written on the other side, in his still child-like scrawl were the words :

I will be a better person after this

The dignity in that statement formed a catch in my throat.

‘You already are a better person, my boy,’ I thought. ‘ You already are.’

28 thoughts on “Feeling Zen All Over

  1. Ah Selma, what an amazing kid he is!!!

    But…um…yeah. I’d like to do a little pre-dawn raid on those little jerks who are tormenting him.


  2. He’s … how old … thirteen, did you say? And, reading the works of the Dalai Lama? Selma, you have a prodigy on your hands! I was still reading ‘Biggles’ and ‘The Eagle’ at that age!


  3. This is so sad but so touching at the same time. YOur son sounds like a remarkable, mature young man. I’m not surprised considering what a great mom he has. No child should have to worry about going to school. THis is so very wrong. I hope that there is a good resolution once and for all, on the way. The good guys DO win in the long run, it just seems like such a loooooong run when you are in the middle of it.

    Hugs to you and Nick, hang in there and don’t give up.


  4. Oh my Selma, what an amazing, incredible, insightful, wise boy you have. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, methinks.

    I know it’s the hardest thing in the world to watch your child go through any discomfort….but my GOD the way he’s handling it is AMAZING. Incredible, enlightened.

    Wow. What a job you and your husband have done!


  5. I am so impressed by your son taking a proactive approach to dealing with the bullies in his life. Like you, I find it harder to get into a Zen state regarding them. It says everything that your son would seek out ways of facing up to his fears, rather than letting them cripple him. We should all take a lesson from him!


  6. Wonderful attitude. I so dislike it when children have to face the ugliness of the world and yet I’m enchanted by the way you and your son handle it.


  7. Your son just reminded me of something importantly.

    Usually we (or I especially) often think if we treat the bullies badly we are better off. We aren’t. An eye for an eye makes the whole world goes blind. Your son, he has an all-seeing eye.


    I try. I think all Mums try to do their best, don’t they? That was very kind of you to say so.

    Oh, you crack me up. Totally with you on that one. The pre-dawn raid has really tickled my fancy!

    Don’t worry, he still reads all the other stuff like Stormchaser and all the spy stuff. It’s just every now and then he veers off into other areas. He is a normal nearly 13 year old boy complete with fart jokes and sight gags!

    I also think the good guys win in the long run, but you’re right, it can seem like it’s taking forever to resolve itself. I have hope though, I really do!

    What a lovely thing to say. We have had our moments of not being as good as we should have, I will admit; but times like these do make us realise that for the most part we are doing the right thing.

    It is an important lesson and one that is hard to carry out. I think our initial reaction to a negative person is anger, which in the long run doesn’t help. It is an odd thing in life that sometimes the parents learn things from their own children!


  9. JOSIE:
    Facing a fear is so tough, isn’t it? I admire anyone who can do it readily. It can be nerve-wracking but often the best thing to do. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that everyone will work out.

    It’s one of those lightbulb moments, I think. For me too. Amazing where those little insights come from.

    He is quite a philosphical kid, which I’m glad about because I think it helps him deal with things. I have to be honest and say that I hate things like this too. But we will soldier on….

    Kids can do that to you, can’t they? When I was teaching I used to blubber all the time at some of the things the kids used to say and do. There is such a purity of thought there sometimes that it takes your breath away.

    He really has been quite stoic about the whole thing. It has amazed me. I will definitely pass on that hug!

    You two both have great minds. And you both think alike. Thanks, hon!

    It’s hard to avoid that ugliness. I always want to but I guess it’s one of those things we cannot completely shelter our kids from. So we have to then deal with it as best we can. I always hope I am doing the right thing!

    I am so glad you visited. Thank you so much. That has made my day. And you are completely right – an eye for an eye is self-defeating. We think it will help but it doesn’t. This whole situation has taught me so much!

    He is a good wee lad. I’m proud of him for not letting this get the better of him.


  10. >>complete with fart jokes <<

    He’d probably like this one, then:

    Q. What’s the difference between a cavalry charger and a brewery horse?

    A. One darts into the fray, and the other delivers beer. πŸ˜€


  11. Gosh that scared me a bit. But I forget. I know that when I was 13 or 14 I was much the same person I am now, with fears and worries all of my own. I wasn’t my mother’s daughter, I was ME.

    Our children handle a lot and they do it admirably. But it still scares me. My son still seems very young and unaffected by things high school but he is a year younger than yours. So next year maybe? I hope not. I like this simply, little boy, uncomplicated state.


    You need to compile all those jokes. You know all the oldies but goodies. Love it. πŸ˜†

    Oh, I like that state too. It’s such a wonderful way to be in the world. Sometimes it’s too much for me – all this growing up. I’m not ready….

    I did want to hug him forever. What a beautiful way of putting it. I hate them too. You have really touched me with your comment. XXX

    Now you’re going to make me blush. πŸ˜€


  13. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, SELMA!! What a wonderful young man you have raised. His maturity is mind-boggling.
    OPRAH had a show on “bullying” today(May 6th, Wednesday) and featured parents of children who had become so damaged/depressed they opted for (sigh) suicide. They were only 11 years old!(one was a young boy who lived here in Georgia, USA)
    Bullying is a CRIME.


  14. LISA:
    I can’t bear to think about that. Just can’t bear it. That poor boy. His mother and father must be heartbroken.


  15. Hola , Happy April Fool’s Day!

    Three guys were fishing in a lake one day, when an angel appeared in the boat.
    When the three astonished men had settled down enough to speak, the first guy asked the angel humbly, “I’ve suffered from back pain ever since I took shrapnel in the Vietnam War… Could you help me?”
    “Of course,” the angel said, and when he touched the man’s back, the man felt relief for the first time in years.
    The second guy wore very thick glasses and had a hard time reading and driving. He asked if the angel could do anything about his poor eyesight.
    The angel smiled, removed the man’s glasses and tossed them into the lake. When they hit the water, the man’s eyes cleared and he could see everything distinctly.
    When the angel turned to the third guy, the guy put his hands out defensively – “Don’t touch me!” he cried, “I’m on a disability pension.”

    Happy April Fool’s Day!


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