I was in Walmart last night to buy a ball for Aidan to replace the one that got dead last week and overheard a conversation in the same aisle. It was a father talking to his young son who looked to be about 5 years old. Dad was holding out a toy to his son and said he'd buy it for him if he would "be good" from now on. "You have to listen and do what grandma tells you or I won't buy it for you". Not a word from the boy. Then grandma chimes in with "no more sass and saying 'no' when I tell you what to do" and more in a hostile, angry voice that I can't remember word for word and then she said this to her grandson: "I haven't liked you since you started talking".
I turned in time to see the boy turn away from his grandma looking down at the toy in his hand with his lip trembling. I'm not a violent person but in that moment I wanted to grab her by her bleached blond hair and punch her face in.
This conversation has dogged me all day today. I hurt so much for that little boy. I pray he has someone in his life who loves him without conditions attached, even when he acts naughty or mean. I pray that, somehow, he learns how to love unconditionally.
I've worried at times about Aidan's less-than-conventional life. He doesn't have the traditional "two parent household" that some kids have. But what he does have are people who love him unconditionally. Two families who delight in him, enjoy him and spend time with him. Two sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, as well as his parents, who love him without boundaries, even when his behavior is less than loveable. And that is how he loves us.
How will that little boy from Walmart learn to love?