Again she wants to hear that same song. I choose it on the player, choking back my tears. I cannot sing along, afraid that my voice will break and show them all I am about to cry. I keep my eyes on the road and grasp the steering wheel tightly, to prevent my tears from flowing. I almost hate that beautiful song, because I hate this situation, my helplessness and the desperation I feel when my child always wants to hear this song. And yet it is good to know that, by again choosing it, she wants to tell me how she is feeling.
Whenever I need to drive a longer distance, I like to arrange a request program for the kids in the ride. My phone is connected to the car radio, and each child in turn can request a song from the YouTube playlist. We start from simple children’s songs and move on to more sophisticated music. And this dear teen of mine again and again wants to hear the beautiful, clear young woman’s voice sing a song called It hurts.
It is a song about a lonely child who is bullied and marginalized at school. It is a touching song, at least to those who have had similar experiences either personally or through their child. I have mixed feelings whenever this song or any song about friendship is sung with gusto by a group. I wonder if any of the singers get even the tiniest glimpse of how they themselves or one of their friends might be causing pain and suffering to another person. That they might be excluding this person from their group. I have hoped that each school would choose to play that song for morning assembly at least once. It could be preceded by a brief introduction by an adult: dear young people, listen carefully to what is said in this song.
Do you find yourself in this song, or do you know someone who might be in it? Could you do anything to change the situation? And what is most important, would you like to make a change if you could?
That fall I went back to school again/and I always went alone./I wanted to be like the others/who walked hand in hand./I saw their happy faces/while I stood alone by the wall./I wanted to share this with someone,/I did not want to be alone.*
Nor would I want it, my child. There is nothing I have prayed for more fervently than I have prayed for you to have a believing friend. For years I have been sharing my concern with the mothers of your age mates, crying and trying to find ways to make you less lonely. I have often felt that the others have understood me, but that understanding has not been enough in our case. Fortunately, I have also found people who have genuinely wanted to help in concrete ways and have even accomplished something.
While standing in line for communion at the Summer Services last year, I did my best to hold back my tears. We were there, I myself, my husband and this child ours, who came to communion with us. This dear child had no-one else to go to communion with – she had her siblings, of course, but she had preferred us for company. I felt desperate and furious. Things should not go like this. Young people should go with other young people, enjoy the Summer Services together, sit in a ring on the grass and eat ice-cream, stay up too late. They should make memories of what the fellowship of young believers can be at its best. To experience the joy of believing, of being part of a group, of feeling so good about it all. Not to have time to sleep, and definitely not to spend time with their ancient parents.
I cried up to God, asking that if He hears me, could He at least give me a small sign. I was feeling so desperate to be always asking for the same thing. I was beginning to wonder if God even cared.
He heard. He gave me a sign right then and there. He allowed something to happen that had never happened before. He gave us you, dear lovely young person, who recognized our daughter, came up and hugged her. Just like that. We both only knew you by name, and still you hugged my child! If I could have done it then, I would have run after you. I would have told you that you did something so important that you can never understand it. I hope you will read this text. I want to tell you that you are a treasure. People like you are needed so badly. And I would still give you a small piece of advice: the next time you are an angel to someone in a similar situation, take hold of her hand and ask her to come along. Ask her to join you and your friends. Those words would be the best gift you can give to a lonely person.
While talking about this matter, I have found that many mothers are feeling similarly about their own children. The Summer Services and other events may seem frustrating or downright frightening. The importance of believing friends is especially obvious in such big events. It is lovely to have friends that you can greet and visit. It is terrible to be quite alone among thousands of people. You can see many persons, but you are invisible to them all.
To be invisible all through your school years. Those unbelievably long years. To go through school and college, and possibly even working life, without anybody to discuss with and share your free time. To do by yourself all group projects and presentations, to spend all days without a word from the others. To oversleep and not have anybody’s phone number, so you could ask about the next class.
Does anybody want to be invisible? Anywhere else except at home?
I would love to have a dear friend,/there is nothing I hope for more./This is daily life for far too many./I stay awake and cry about tomorrow.*
The Heavenly Father first gave us five girls in a row. I know why. He gave them for this lovely girl of mine. In each other these girls have lifelong friends. That is so good! And I am so very happy that my children, especially the big sisters, feel their sister to be so important that they ask her to come along. I am so happy about it.
Yet, I would not like to always tell one of my children to go along with her sisters. Nor would I like to remind the older ones to take the others into account. But still I do. I suspect my tombstone will have two inscriptions: ”We won’t need a doctor for this.” and ”Remember to ask everybody to come along.” I am sure my children do not always like it when I tell them, at services and wherever we happen to be, to go and talk to the one who is sitting alone. But never has anybody who has been sitting alone refused to come if someone has asked him or her to come and sit with them. My child would not refuse either.
Why am I writing about this now? I had a blog post written and ready to be submitted, and I am already past my deadline. And I do not know if my child allows me to publish this. I must ask her as soon as I have completed the text. If you are reading this, you will know she told me to go ahead.
I write about this because I fear for the future of my child and all the lonely teens and young adults. Everybody needs at least one friend. The mother can never fill that slot in her child’s life. I know how extremely important it is for every young person to have friends who help them over the hard spots in life. Who share with them all the lovely things that belong to young people’s lives – sleepovers, shopping trips, bonfire nights, cabin weekends, crazy rides and togetherness. If there is no-one, there is no joy in life. And it may become very difficult to believe.
This is why I am writing. Because my child is so dear to me. And I know every lonely child is dear and important to his or her parents. I hope my child’s only solution will not be to find an unbelieving friend. There may be lovely people in the world who find my child worth friendship, but who still cannot offer the best thing that believers offer.
Speak to your children. Speak and make them open their eyes. Teach them to see the invisible one in the crowd. To approach the kids who always sit with their parents and ask them to join the other kids. We cannot force anybody to be friends with someone, but we can speak to our children and ask them to give everybody a chance. Or maybe more than one chance, for the lonely one may not be able to take a full role right away but may need to learn gradually to trust other people.
Tell your children that friendship is like love – it only grows when you share it. None of us will lose anything if we include one more person in our group. We do not know what a great treasure we may find in a person we have earlier passed by. When we give friendship as a gift, we ourselves get a gift. Let us tolerate differences and teach our children to do the same. We as parents are also different, but I personally find the differences between my own friends and acquaintances to be such a rich treasure that I would never want to give it up. I would not want myself to be my friend. I want to have my dear, lovely friends with whom I can laugh and cry and be my real self. I do not need to ask if they accept me. I know they want to be with me.
If I had the power to decide, I would arrange a special meeting at the Summer Services. Every day I would put up a sign saying ”I would like some good company”, and I would invite all young and older people who long for a friend to attend that meeting. I am sure there would be people with good chemistry, if only someone would gently nudge them to come out of their tents or campers and meet these others. They would probably marvel at all the nice people of their age they had never noticed before, wondering if those people would even like to go with them for a walk? Would they dare to ask?
Text: Satu Luokkanen
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen
You will find the original finnish blog post here.
Monet suunnitelmat ovat tänä poikkeuksellisena keväänä muuttuneet. Muun muassa perhejuhlien järjestelyjä on pitänyt miettiä uudelleen. Tämä on koskenut myös avioliittoon vihkimisiä. Nyt vihkimisiä on toimitettu niin, että koolla on ollut vain joitakin läheisiä, ja muu juhlaväki on seurannut tilaisuutta ehkä virtuaalisesti. Hääjuhlia on jouduttu siirtämään myöhäisempiin ajankohtiin. Jotkut hääparit ovat siirtäneet tämän vuoksi myös avioitumistaan.