My Heart Hurts Today.

Via on Jan 10, 2014

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My heart hurts today.

As parents, all we want is for our children to be safe and happy. When they are not, their pain cuts to core of our being.

I learned last night that my son has been having a rough time at school. He is the new kid, having started at a new school last September. We knew it would take a little time for him to settle in and make new friends, especially when most of the other kids already knew each other and had established friendships. Now he is back to school from winter break and struggling.

It all came pouring out of him last night. I was drawing myself a bath, but I could hear him in the next room, spilling his little guts out to my husband.

“When we play basketball or soccer, no one ever passes the ball to me. It makes me feel like the other kids don’t care about me.”

My heart sank.

And I was a bit surprised. Sure, I knew he was the newbie in his third grade class, but I also know what a sweet, energetic and outgoing little boy he is. Why the hell don’t these kids want to play with him or pass him the ball?

“Do the kids pick on you?” I heard my husband ask.

“Not exactly,” my son said, “I think they think I’m weird.”

I stood holding my breath, and straining to listen over the sound of running water, picking up only bits and pieces.

“They think it’s weird I bring my lunch every day, instead of buying lunch like they do.”

WTF.

“I told them, it’s just cause my parents are vegetarian!”

My husband and I are actually not vegetarian, though we do strive to eat a mostly vegetarian style diet. We’ve pretty much cut meat out of our diet, but we both still eat fish, and my husband still indulges in a burger or carne asada burrito from time to time. However, we do strive to eat a healthy, organic diet as much as possible, and of course we feed our son in the same manner, as much as possible. We hope to instill healthy eating habits in him, and he eats his fruits and veggies like a champ.

Here’s the deal with the school lunches though—they don’t have a cafeteria, so different “vendors’ are called in each day to provide lunches. As an alternative, parents can pack lunches for their kids. The main vendors include: Pizza, McDonald’s, El Pollo Loco, and Chick-Filet.

It’s fast food. Every day.

Hells no! is what I said to that. There’s no way I’m letting my son eat garbage for lunch every day. So we pack his lunch. Lots of delicious organic fruits and veggies (stuff he likes), hummus with pita or sandwiches, etc.

Now, it’s not like I never let my son have pizza or chips or whatever, but I’m not gonna sign him up for McDonald’s every Tuesday either. No, no, no!

But apparently, he is getting singled out and picked on for taking his lunch.

The mama bear rage set in. “But eating that crap is so bad for the kids,” I grumbled to my husband later. “That’s why we send him to school with good food to eat.”

“I know that,” he told me. “But you’re thinking like an adult. These kids just see that he’s different. So he gets singled out.”

“That’s the scary thing though,” he continued. “This is the kind of thing that makes him stand out to the real predators. I’m worried he may be on the cusp of getting seriously bullied.”

 My stomach was in knots.

 “He also mentioned the snack sale,” my husband told me. “After school, when the kids all go to buy snacks, he doesn’t go with them.”

There’s a snack sale once a week after school. Every week a different grade provides the snacks. We received an email at the start of the year from the head of the PTA asking parents not to send healthy snacks. No joke. Because they don’t sell! Appalling, right?

So we don’t give money every week to buy junk food snacks, but apparently this further isolates him.

There were a few other things that got discussed between my son and my husband during their impromptu heart-to-heart. But the painstaking reality is that my kid is being viewed as the ‘nerd” or the “weirdo” right now, largely due to the fact that he doesn’t conform to the Standard American Diet.

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It sucks. I know that as his mom I’m biased by default, but I speak the truth when I say—I have a good kid. He has a very loving heart. He’s funny, gregarious, compassionate and respectful. I know this is true beyond my rose-colored-mama glasses, because of the compliments I’ve received from other people about his personality and behavior.

He was very well-liked at his previous school, so the fact that he is struggling with these issues now comes as a bit of a shock. But this is the reality. Despite his good heart and good qualities, he is having trouble making friends. He feels ostracized and lonely at school.

It makes my heart hurt.

All day today, I keep trying to shake off the grays, stay positive and not dwell in the sadness. But I’m struggling.

Every moment I’m feverishly hoping that he’s having a good day today. Every minute I’m saying another prayer—Please let him know how awesome and special he is. Please keep him strong during the hard moments. Please, please, please just let him be ok.

We all have our hard times and our down-in-the-dumps moments. When I do, I try to not dwell, but look for the positive. I try to keep my spirit lifted.

But this isn’t about me. It’s about him. His pain.

I wish I could take all his pain away from him and just endure it. But I can’t. And so, my heart is heavy today. It aches and it cries and bears a searing pain that cuts so deeply, it brings me to my knees.

This too shall pass.

This is what I will cling to until I see his little face again tonight. Until I can squeeze him and see him smile.

Please let him be ok.

He is such an awesome little human being. Please let him be ok.

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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photo: author’s own

About Yoli Ramazzina

Yoli Ramazzina was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley (818!), but now resides in Long Beach, California. She is a music lover and a retired KXLU deejay. She is a certified yoga instructor and enjoys teaching Kids Yoga as well as Yoga Basics and Vinyasa Flow at local studios in her community. In her free time she enjoys practicing yoga, reading, gardening, listening to music, drinking good beer, and most of all spending time with her husband, son and their two rescued pups, Nom-Nom and Lucy. You can find and follow Yoli on tumblr or on Facebook.

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33 Responses to “My Heart Hurts Today.”

  1. Noé says:

    Thank you. I cried.

  2. sarrah says:

    I just wanted to say you are a great mother to be consciously feeding your son real food that properly nourishes his growing body. I'm sorry for what he is experiencing at school and hope that it improves. I will send out a little prayer in meditation tonight in hopes that situation improves and that he continues to find his strength through this challenging time

    Lots of love,

  3. Lara says:

    Aw, this breaks my heart. Has he made any connection with any of the other kids? Is there someone you could invite for a play date? Could he catch up with some of his old friends, perhaps? Could you maybe speak to his teacher? Sorry, I have more questions than answers. I feel so bad for your little cub, it must be so hard to see him unhappy

    • Yoli Ramazzina yoli says:

      Lara, thank you for your concern and compassion :) Yes, he does visit with his old friends, and that's all good… Just hoping the kids at his new school would be more open and accepting towards him! Depending how bad/serious things get, we may get teachers or counselors involved… but we also want to be careful to not make the situation worse, you know what I mean? Thank you for reading and for your comment :}

  4. Lora says:

    He will be ok! I have raised kids with the same ideals and now their friends who thought we ate so weird are asking how to make the food that is yummy and good for you because their eating habits are terrible. They are now going into adulthood with no proper education or skills on how to be healthy. These lessons will shape him and make him into a excellent well adjusted adult. I promise!!! Hugs to you mom.

  5. Yoli Ramazzina yoli says:

    Thank you, Lora! That is very encouraging :)
    Hugs back to you!

  6. cindy says:

    This struck a cord with me because my teenagers are having problems making friends at their new schools. The other kids seem so confident, they say. Have to reassure them that people are seldom as confident as they appear, and also they both made pals in the past, so have proved that they can do it. I so know your heavy hearted feeling though!

  7. Cody's Mom says:

    I had similar issues with my son and still worry about him daily and he's 22! It's natural for a parent to want their child to be popular, but my son has always had a mind of his own. He is his own person and trying to fit in doesn't always make them happier. Continue to love him to death, encourage and praise him and he will become happy with the person he is not the person everyone else thinks he should be.

  8. Liz says:

    Perhaps you could try a different approach. Maybe send in several portions of the
    food he brings for lunch so others can try, perhaps talk to the teach and make the
    offerings a class project for tasting, or make a "snack" that is healthy and does not taste like it..
    I am sure you have many recipes, but pininterest has so many to offer. I hope all is well.

  9. gmotyka says:

    Do you have the book Tiger, Tiger, Is It True?

  10. Kim says:

    What does your son want to eat? Have you asked him? Is he truly free to tell you?

    As the son of immigrants growing up in a whitebread Midwestern suburb, I struggled a lot trying to fit in and please my atypical parents at the same time. I was the weird one. As an adult I am grateful for my upbringing, but my parents could have lightened up on some of their “ideas”, and the world would not have come to an end.

    I think it is okay for him to eat mcdonalds every Tuesday if he wants to. Maybe that’s why he brought it up. As a family you can come to a compromise.

    Just something to think about. Having been there, all my best to your family.

    • Yoli Ramazzina yoli says:

      Kim, thank you for your input… We do let him buy his lunch on occasion, but I sincerely feel McDonald's is some of the worst food anyone can eat, and I'm not going to compromise my son's health and allow him to eat it on a weekly basis. But I do hear what you are saying…. Thank you for reading and for sending your support :)

  11. karen katz says:

    I am sending out loving energy to your son and your family….a little compromise is ok, but in the long run, subscribing to the SAD (great acronym-the standard american diet really is sad) will not serve him well. I am almost 58, am told that I look about 45, and most of the time feel younger!….not just my body, but my spirit. I watch my friends and coworkers eating large amounts of processed, fatty, meat laden food, as their health and energy declines-never say anything to anyone, and hope that someday they will find a better way to eat.

    but I am a mom, and I hurt for your little guy

  12. Lisa says:

    Hi Yoli,

    I am not a mom ( but love kids) and have three little nephews and teach yoga to kids. I know if I was preparing food for kids I would be encouraging the diet you are offering. I do agree with Kim that maybe McDonalds chips and a shake on a TuesdAy ok (not the meat products maybe ?)

    Also the suggestion to the teachers that parents with particulars skills/interests/talents could go in on rotation to talk to the kids on these topics and of course yours could be yoga and diet. You clearly know how to reach kids yoga so maybe spear head this?

    • Yoli Ramazzina yoli says:

      Hi Lisa, I like the idea of discussion topics about nutrition and/or yoga… I actually approached the school administration early in the year, and I offered to teach an after-school kids yoga class, but I was turned down :[
      Thank you for reading and being supportive :)

  13. Judy says:

    It’s like you looked into my heart! When my children were your son’s age, they had similar food bullying issues. (And that’s with kids they knew all their lives!) My three kids dealt with it in different ways, ranging from ’cause it’s good for me is NOT gross’ to actually trading their good food for ham sandwiches. (We’re also mostly vegetarian) I want to tell you to stay the course. Keep loving the daylights out of your little guy and keep those lines of communication open. My girls are in high school now and opted to take their own lunches AND THEY ARE NOT ALONE. When presented with daily food choices, they make good ones and aren’t bothered by the good natured teasing. When any of my kids’ friends come to visit they always say ‘Yea! You always have the best fruit.’ My funny, quirky, sensitive kids have turned into amazing little people. & your little guy will too…

  14. Mia says:

    Yoli,

    I understand this pain! My little ones are 6 and 8… My 6yr old son was born with a limb-difference, (his left arm stops a 3rd of the way down his forearm) and he eats vegetarian for the most part. The other kids don’t understand the concept of cucumber salad and he says he has one friend at school. And my daughter doesn’t understand why she can’t have whatever material crap the other girls have.

    Keep this is mind though– when I was a kid I had to eat all the junk at school because my parents were too busy/ didn’t care to make my lunch or buy fruit and veg or have healthy food available at our home. I would DEVOUR a plate of broccoli if I was given a chance, and I had a certain level of envy for the kids who brought their lunch. I felt like their parents must care about them more. Of course I didn’t make fun of them but I imagine the children your son deals with might have an envy like that, and don’t know how to process that other than putting him down just to feel better about it.

  15. Yoli Ramazzina yoli says:

    Mia, my son LOVES cucumber salad too! Haha

    Thank you for sharing your insights… Makes alot of sense, and I appreciate your support :)

  16. Deziyah says:

    Your son is fortunate to have such loving parents. He will be ok…..because of Mom and Dad.

  17. Tiffany says:

    I am so grateful that my son goes to a charter school where green and health living is the name of their game! They have a garden, walking trails, living wall and they even have an outdoor classroom they use on nice days! My point is that the kids my son goes to school with are mostly low income and troubled, but are learning this way of living because a charter school showed up in their neighborhood and is teaching them. Your son’s classmates can learn the same way, but on a smaller scale. Growing a small garden or even some herbs in his classroom would work wonders to bridge that gap. And growing plants is totally science! I am sure that a classroom of kids who have planted, nurtured and waited patiently for rosemary to grow, finally getting to run their hand over it and smell it on their palm for the first time will be far more kind and accepting. :)

  18. Tiffany says:

    Talk to his teacher and see what you can make shake! Dare you suggest a field trip to a local farm? Hmmmm?

  19. Sofia says:

    You are a great mom who wants the best for her child. You are no looking for an easy way out in life but to build a foundation for what is best for him or anyone else in this planet. You are doing it with love and flexibility. Your son will be fine, healthy and strong. Also he will be a good role model. One of the main problems in our life is that we are victims of bad publicity and policies for food that is garbage and transgenic, this approach has created a sick society with a taste for synthetic and rapid meals . Meanwhile the food industry is getting richer. You are a conscious, loving and caring human being. Your son needs you and the world needs people like you. Namaste

  20. Yoli Ramazzina yoli says:

    Thank you so much, Sofia :o}
    ~namaste

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