Our six year old son, Justice is at school right now. He’s smack dab in the middle of 24 other first graders. But, he’s not like those 24 other kids. He’s different, in a lot of ways. Not better. Different.
He’s American. Blond hair, and fair skinned. He’s not Catholic. He’s circumcised.
But, he tries his best to fit right in with everybody else. If he doesn’t understand what’s going on, he pretends he does. He refuses to take Oreos for his mid-morning snack because every other kid in class opens up a napkin with a piece of ham neatly tucked inside a roll.
No way he’s taking Oreos or a Pop-Tart. He’s taking a roll, with ham or cheese…just like everybody else.
Right now, he’s probably trying very hard to pay attention. I’m not saying that because he’s my son. I’m saying that because I know him pretty well. He’s trying really hard to pay attention, but I know that he is completely distracted by the other kids.
He’s a boy. It’s what happens.
He wants to do his work. He wants to obey his teacher. He wants to follow the rules of the classroom that he has so diligently copied every night for the last two weeks. Yet, in his little mind, he doesn’t want miss anything that is going on around him for fear of being left out, for fear of looking more different than he already is, for fear of being caught out of place.
In a way, he’s always been a little self conscious about being different, and I believe that may go all the way back to him being the only boy surrounded by 4 big sisters. He’s the only one that doesn’t wear skirts or hair bows. He wears under-roos and not panties.
He’s sort of stuck out his entire life, and here in Portugal, he just keeps sticking out more and more. It just keeps getting amplified….which is why when I go pick him up from school today, I’ve got to remind myself to tell him one thing.
Don’t go with the bad guys.
And, more so than his 4 sisters because of his heightened self-consciousness, I feel like I’m going to have to keep on telling him this for a long time.
Don’t do what the bad boys do.
That’s what Solomon told his son. As a matter of fact, that’s one of the very first pieces of counsel that we find in the entire book of Proverbs. In chapter 1, verse 10, the king tells the prince:
My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.
Or, don’t go with the bad guys. Don’t do what they do. Don’t say what they say.
Not too long ago, his big sister, Trinity, told me that she heard Justice say a bad word at school. She told him it was a bad word, but he didn’t believe her. “All the other boys in his class said it. They laughed too, so it couldn’t be a bad word,” he must’ve thought. He just said it because the other kids did, and he didn’t want to be different.
“Don’t act how they act. Even if they really want you to, don’t. Don’t give in.” I’m just going to have to keep telling him.
Be different. Be different even when you don’t want to be different. Don’t go with the bad guys.
That’s what I’m going to tell him. It’s not much different from what Colt McCoy’s dad used to tell him every day when dropping him off at school. He would say,
“Do your best and be a leader!”
Maybe one day I’ll adopt or adapt Brad McCoy’s mantra, but for right now I’ll start by telling my son, “Don’t go with the bad guys!”
If I say it often enough, with prayer…I’m sure it will sink in.
Don’t go with the bad guys. Don’t go with the bad guys. Don’t go…