Eisa: “Mama, I think I love Jannah more than she loves me.”
Eisa: “Yeah. It makes me sad.”
Me: “That makes sense. I totally get it.”
Eisa: “You do?”
Me: “Yes. I always felt that way about people I love. That I love them more than they love me and it made me sad.”
Eisa: “Then what did you do?”
Me: “Well, I didn’t make good choices when I believed that. I think I hurt my friends by saying that to them.”
Eisa: “Why? It was the truth.”
Me: “I think it was my truth. Truth can be different for different people. Like one friend, I told her ‘You don’t love me enough so I’m gonna stop being your friend!”
(I said this in a fake angry voice and it made him laugh)
Eisa: “You really said that?”
Me: “I did. And now I’m sad I said that because now I know she loved me as best as she could. Does that make sense?”
Eisa: “She loved you as best as she could... can some people love more than others?”
Me: “I don’t think it’s more or less. It’s just different...”
Eisa: “Because everyone is different?”
Me: “Yes. Allah gives everyone a different super power in this life.. meant for the job they came to do in this world. Maybe yours and mine is to love lots and lots of people so we have lots of extra love lying around.”
Eisa: “But it hurts to have all that extra love lying around.”
Me: “It does. That’s why Allah also gives us families to make the hard things easier. Does it help that I’m here for you?”
Eisa: “It does!”
Me: “Can I tell you.. even though things were hard when I was younger.. I had all this love and not enough people to give it to but now, in my work with children and parents... I need to love a lot of people and it’s very helpful for me to have all that extra love lying around. I’m excited to find out where all your extra love will go!”
There was a big smile on his face by now. He didn’t say anything, hugged me and ran off.
And for perspective, Jannah is his lifelong friend and cousin. He has adored her as long as he’s known her and now especially that she’s older (2 years older than him), it’s hard for her to give him the kind of attention he’d like but she really does try her absolute best and even if she didn’t, she’s a kid and doesn’t owe another kid anything.
There will always always be friend drama in our kids’ lives. As long as we can show them that WE love and accept them and we understand their pain and we make no attempts to “fix” it for them or “it’s ok” it away. They’ll be fine. They’ll be better than fine. They’ll be resilient.
(A picture of Eisa and Jannah at a restaurant in Maryland, U.S.)