"Nice guys finish last... be nice anyway": A mom's heartwarming letter about her son who wasn't made a prefect

Mother and son
Mother and son

"Today my mommy heart broke – I felt like someone had punched me in the gut, but today I had to be strong. I had to look my 12-year-old son in the eyes and tell him life was unfair and that life was always going to give you curve balls. But the pain in my Danny Boy’s eyes, that is a look that is burned into my brain and heart.

Is he dying? No, his heart feels like it though and his brain tells him that he hurts like hell, but it’s his soul that is hurt. 

How do you teach your child do be kind? Let us know by emailing us at chatback@Parent24.com and we could publish your comments. Do let us know if you'd like to remain anonymous. 

You see, Grade 7 prefects were chosen today, and Danny didn’t make the list. He came home from school after tennis practice, and as I opened the gate on this dejected figure, he looked at me, eyes brimming with tears, "Mom, I didn’t make it, I didn’t get an envelope." One sentence uttered, grey eyes so distant with the hurt, enough to make this mommy feel like a sucker punch to the gut had been delivered.

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You see, Danny is our eldest child out of 4. Danny is unique and special. My Danny Boy whose motto in life seems to be “But mom there is always room for one more.” A huge heart, at the tender age of 12 he already has two causes that he is passionate about: eradicating canned hunting and helping orphaned children. Danny, who wishes that we could foster every kid out there in need.

Our miracle child, who we refer to as “Danny, Champion of the World”, at the age of 6 months had to undergo brain surgery to drain fluid and blood off his brain, due to a traumatic brain injury. The only side-effect of this injury presently is that where they drained fluid from his brain, there was a piece that his grey/white matter didn’t grow into and that is the part where his emotions are determined. 

So you see, Danny is a depressive, every day he takes a 10mg antidepressant. We don’t mollycoddle him or wrap him in cotton wool, life is normal except for 1 little pill a day.

My heart wants to scream out, “How can you not see how hard this boy has worked for this ultimate reward of primary school?” Never one detention in his school career, always following the rules, this year he signed up for scholar patrol and he put his all into it, and on days when he wasn’t on duty he would assist in walking the little Grade Rs to class. My heart swelled with pride when I heard that he was helping a girl who had broken her leg, for 6 weeks carrying her bag to her classes for her and then to the school bus after school, never making a big deal of it, and definitely not for any recognition... but you know why? Because Danny is a nice boy. 

We are raising “nice” boys, raising them up to be gentlemen one day. It’s mostly inbuilt though, I remember Danny coming home 3 years ago and telling me with tears in his eyes that the class had made the teacher cry. He asked me to please buy a chocolate for her and then wrote a note saying how sorry he was that the class had made her cry and that he hoped she would feel better soon. You know what that is folks... it's compassion, and I don’t think that can be taught, it’s either in you or it’s not.

Am I bitter that Danny didn’t make prefect? No, I am gutted that they couldn’t see how special he is. “Mom, why do the kids that swear and disrespect their teachers get chosen?” And I get to explain to my child that “nice guys finish last but be nice anyway." 

And it breaks my heart, but life is tough so we've got to deal with this and move on as there will be tougher days and more disappointments ahead, but the lesson in all of this is... be nice anyway.   

But you see, Danny, at nearly 13, who is wise beyond his years, is seeing for the first time that the world works a certain way, the only thing that stands between him and the ways of the world out there is a mom and dad saying, “Be nice anyway”. Yes, there may be no reward now, but your day will come, Danny Boy.

Are you destined for greatness? Without a doubt, and I will continue speaking that over your life.

Right now I am watching him like a hawk to see how he is processing and handling this setback. The slumped shoulders, the sense of failure, a bit of OCD behaviour coming to the forefront and my heart breaks. 

My heart breaks because life is not fair, and as an adult I have learnt that, I have accepted that, and regardless I try and raise up little world changers. We try and raise our kids to have a voice in this world, to speak up for what is right and speak out where there are wrongs.

Right now my heart breaks because Danny feels as if he has been measured and found wanting, because he has been measured to a different standard. My heart breaks because every day I see evidence that nice guys finish last: in my workplace, in the news, in life, but you know what, it won’t define my children, so this truth I will teach them: Nice guys finish last... but be nice anyway."

How do you teach your child do be kind? Let us know by emailing us at chatback@Parent24.com and we could publish your comments. Do let us know if you'd like to remain anonymous. 

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