Every day
they give some report of what he did or didn’t do.

“The bad boy was there today.”

“When he
lays down while the teacher reads, they say, ‘Don’t do that.’”

“He got a
red face today.”

Preschool is
their first foray into the wide world beyond our doors.  
I imagine “the bad boy” is both fascinating
and frightening in some way – he’s clearly caught their attention.

I’ve noticed
the “bad boy” too, on field trips and at pick-up and drop-off.  He sometimes breaks down and won’t listen to
his weary mother, he seems to have some behavioral issues, probably a

morning, tugging rain boots and coats on, they tell me again about “the bad

“Does the
“bad boy” have a name?” I ask.

“Me don’t
know it,” Levi says, crinkling his nose in thoughtful concentration.

“Is he
always bad?” I ask.

“Usually he
nice to me, but one time he take-ed my toy,” Levi replies.

“Isn’t his
name . . . .? Let’s call him . . . . , let’s not call him the “bad boy,” I
suggest, remembering the boy’s name. 
“You wouldn’t want to be called “bad boy,” would you?”

The moment
passes in the rush to get out the door on time, but I continue to think about
“the bad boy.” 

He’s no more
than four years old and already my boys have labeled him based on his
behavior.  I wonder how the teachers’
responses may have influenced the way my boys perceive him, and I’m aware of
the almost imperceptible sense of comfort they seem to get from knowing that
they are not bad like him, they are good.

My heart
breaks for this boy, for the burden of being “bad.”

And my heart
breaks also for my own children who bear the burden of needing to be “good.”

I want them
to be known by name, not by deed.  

I want them
to remember to see themselves and others in light of wholeness rather than
brokenness, to understand in some way that they are loved and that love casts
away all labels – love calls us, always and only, by name.

Linking with #TellHisStory.

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