Friends

Our 10-year-old son—the shyest of our lot—started at a brand new school this year.

It was the best decision for him academically, but it was a move that was not without its risks. 

For someone who struggles as much as he does with finding his place, it meant leaving behind a small, but tight group of friends that he (and we) had worked hard to build.

It meant starting over. And it's been a slow start, which is exactly what we expected.

To keep his confidence and self-esteem up, we've continued to spend time with the friends from his old school. We could not be more grateful that they have continued to reach out to him—it means so much to us. They have shown kindness and acceptance and genuine friendship. 

Today is Pink Shirt Day across the country. It's an initiative that focuses on anti-bullying, as well as the value of spreading positivity and kindness. And as much as we can count on the schools to help perpetuate those messages, it has to begin at home. It has to start with parents and caregivers and role models. We have to walk the talk ourselves, if we expect our children to do the same. 

Two weeks ago, we were on the receiving end of a beautiful gift from one of those boys, and I wanted to share it here on this important day. 

My son's friend came to our door with a wrapped gift and inside was a homemade Wall of Awesome with adjectives and words that described our son. He wears his emotions very openly, and when he read those words his face lit up with joy. It let him know that he is still seen. 

Wallofawesome

This gift comes from a family who aren't afraid to raise a boy who is empathetic and compassionate. They don't worry themselves about making him tough, they worry about making him kind. And even before this great gift, we had seen it exemplified in every interaction we've had with him. 

It isn't easy for my boy to trust peers, he's been hurt before. It's easy to hurt him, after all.

But with this friend, he is able to be his true self. 

And that is what I want my children to know at their core. 

A true friend lifts you up and helps you find your best version.

My son's friends are doing that for him and as their parents,

we are all standing on the sidelines cheering them on.

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Elan Morgan

Elan Morgan is a writer and web designer who works from Elan.Works, a designer and editor at GenderAvenger, and a speaker who has spoken across North America. They have been seen in the Globe & Mail, Best Health, Woman's Day, and Flow magazines, TEDxRegina, and on CBC News and Radio. They believe in and work to grow both personal and professional quality, genuine community, and meaningful content online.