Ignore It

He feels left out, he says. He doesn’t know how to respond. Who he could have a chat with or where to sit during the breaks at school. I hear him and feel like a volcano. Protest, sadness, despair, determination and a list of arguments bubble up in me. I decide to not say anything, just sit next to him and be silent for a while. I wonder how I did deal with this when I was young. How did I survive in a world in which I didn’t think I fit in, was different, found little connection and felt a gap between me and the rest of the world.

With all my might I push a cork into the crater, though feeling lava boiling up, and say firmly, ‘We love you. It doesn’t matter that you don’t feel comfortable there. You shouldn’t care about what other people think of you. Ignore it.’ Suddenly I am back in time and see my father and how he tried to help me stand strong against my bullies. ‘Ignore it’, he said. Just like I say now. But I didn’t know how to do something with it, because I didn’t know and still don’t really know how to do that: Ignore it, don’t care about it. How are you supposed to don’t care about it and ignore it?

We both sigh and stare out the window. The trees are still in the same place, allowing the wind to carry their leaves. They don’t care about anything. Stand undisturbed, grow, bear fruit in due season. I put an arm around my son. The least I can do is not ignore him myself. To be angry at the world together, cry about the injustice together, find out together how on earth to act normal, to belong.

I think of the books I’ve read and the stories I’ve heard from real people. I tell him that it often seems that everyone else knows how to socialize and seem to have friends, but that if you listen carefully and look closely, it is not always the case. Every person has his or her own struggle with themselves and with the other. We cannot change other people. Only ourselves, and that only to a certain extent.

Suddenly I remember how I kept myself going then, and actually still do now. Softly I say to both of us, ‘If you find it hard to make friends, to recognize friends, to see where you belong. Then focus on being a good friend yourself.’ It doesn’t help much, but it does give a little courage to keep going on.

First pubished in Dutch on October 30, 2020

Foto door RODNAE Productions op Pexels.com

2 thoughts on “Ignore It

  1. Beautifully written and heart rending.
    I think more experience this than one might think. Some cover it up with bravado more than others.
    Something to ponder, many old souls don’t feel like they fit in to the bluster around them.
    Warm hugs to you both 🫂


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