The world has changed … well, that is an understatement. This generation of children are not the same as before, equally true. Change however is both inevitable as well as good. We grow because we embrace change, we change because we know it brings us into new lights of experiences.
Last Friday, my eleven year old son encountered his first fist fight with one of his fellow classmates. Luckily it was not bloody nor serious enough to draw the school’s attention. It happened during inter-house competition and I imagine the PE teacher was far too experienced than to make a big deal out of a bunch of boys being competitive.
My phone rang. “Hi mom, I am on my way home now.” a silent pause, “I have something to tell you when I get home.” I knew it, I said to myself. “Are you okay?” I asked. “Yes I am. Talk to you when I get home.”
“I had a fight with one of my classmate today.” he said, sounding remorseful. “What happened?” I asked. “He said the F word to me so I punched him in his face.” He was not proud of himself, that I could tell. He went on to describe and explain the whole situation which did not take very long because what he really wanted to tell me was the following:
“On the way home, I got an invite to a group chat named, “This has to stop”, it was set up by five of my classmates.” He showed me the content of their conversations. My son went on to say, his eyes tearing up, “I couldn’t believe they are so nice to me. I called one of them and told him how much I appreciated all their support.”
The messages in the group chat were nothing but positive comments such as: we are your friends; we know you are sorry for punching him; my advice for you is next time just walk away if he bullies you again; you can come and hang out with us at lunchtime; don’t be sad. Even I became teary as I read them. Even I could not believe how kind these boys were being.
Sadly, I hear far too many stories about children of this generation: they are more self-centered than ever; more selfish and less giving. They get sucked into the cyber world to the extent that their realities deviate so much from their real one. They lack empathy and compassion, not because they are bad, but because they are being masked by the virtual reality where emotions are not needed nor required.
These handful of friends are like rare jewels, not only did they break the norm but they brave themselves to depart from their own comfort zones by being there for a troubled friend, by being kind, by being supportive. We can laugh but the current reality is in fact like this: kindness is not the new norm; showing your care is not a cool thing; being empathetic to fellow friends is a risk to self-gain.
So I call these boys heroes, for there are many kinds of heros, and not all heros wear a cape that our children know from the big screen. They are the true heroes that don’t need a cape, instead they are willing to take a risk to protect and support a friend and not expect to be praised nor recognized. They will be our leaders in the future because they breakfree from the norm, they embrace change. They have made a change for the better, no matter how small that change is.
It is heartwarming to know that while change is inevitable, change is good…but sometimes good to know also that something never changes: the need and occasional availability of a kind heart.