This boy drove me to tears tonight.
A few weeks ago, we got a flyer about Stake Children's Choir (ages 8-11). Isaac was excited to go, so we gladly took him to the one and only practice.
He was the only member of our ward to show up. And only two of the songs were for the whole group; the others were divided up for the individual wards. They weren't expecting him to sing a solo, so he just sat out the entire rest of the concert. And then they didn't realize they had a kid with food allergies, so everybody else got a cookie, and he just got to go home.
His sweet Primary president brought him his own treat the next day, which ended up still being something he couldn't eat, but he really appreciated the gesture. And then a couple of his friends thought they'd show up for the concert so he wouldn't be alone, so he stayed optimistic about the whole experience.
Then, the concert happened...
Mark had another appointment that ran over, and one of the boys had a potty emergency, so we couldn't leave home on time. I left Mark to bring the younger 3, and Isaac and I hurried to the church as fast as we could. We walked in just as the pianist was finishing the introduction for the first song - one of the two Isaac actually got to be part of. His seat on the stand was easy to find, as his friends hadn't made it after all, so he was off to the side, all alone. I encouraged him to walk quietly up and join the choir, even though the song had started. He headed over, but hesitated at the steps, and didn't go up until our Stake President reassured him it would be okay. He sang brilliantly. (He really does have the voice of an angel!)
At the close of the concert, the Stake Primary President got up to let everyone know there were refreshments, and made a point of letting everyone know that there was a plate of gluten free cookies for Isaac, and no one should take one unless they had the same dietary needs. It was so kind of her to go out of her way to help Isaac feel loved!
After the concert though, he ran down and just sobbed in my arms, telling me he was an "epic failure." Apparently, he accidentally stood up when another ward got up to sing, and the kid nearest him made fun of him. He had already been self-conscious, since he had been late and all alone. Then, he was embarrassed that he was singled out as having a food allergy. Plus, he was disappointed anyway, since he didn't know anybody else in the choir, and his friends hadn't been able to be there.
I tried to think of reassuring things to say. But, at that moment, I came up empty.
I don't know how to make it okay to be different.
I don't know how to make it feel better when somebody else did something that made you look irresponsible.
I don't know how to make it less painful to be mocked for making a mistake.
I don't know how to make it feel less lonely to be alone.
I don't know how to make it feel less disappointing to have an experience you were excited about turn out to be "not as advertised."
What I did realize in that moment is that I've officially entered a new phase of parenting; one where I can't pretend that life is fair, kiss an owie, hand my kid a cookie, and have that solve all his problems.
So I did the only thing I could do: hugged him, told him I love him, cried with him, and then helped him find his special plate of cookies.
At least we've still got the cookies.