The First Rule of Muscle Club…

It’s a hard thing, talking to your children about healthy friendships.

On one hand, we love everybody, we respect people, and we are always kind. It’s what we do.

On the other hand, some kids just aren’t nice to be around. Some kids are straight up mean. And while that’s probably more on their parents than them at this point, balancing grace and protection is hard.

Combine that with the knowledge that everything you say as a parent can and will be used against you on the playground, and it’s nearly impossible.

(“MY MOM SAYS YOU’RE AN ‘UNHEALTHY’ FRIEND!” he says, strolling away from the monkey bars without a second glance.)

Unfortunately, our kindergartener has had a few instances recently with friends who are bully-esque, so we’re beginning to walk this love vs. truth friendship tightrope together.

We talk about traits of kind vs. unkind friends.

We brainstorm ways to say “thanks but no thanks” if our friends are making choices or talking about subjects we aren’t comfortable with.

And we always, always circle back to “What are some ways we can love this friend well?” (….while taking breaks from playing with him/her.)


All of these conversations have been simmering, leading up to our walk home from school yesterday – the day after he unfolded a new plan to branch out in his friend circles.

I picked him up, hugged him, and said, “I’ve been dying to ask you about school all day. How’d it go with your friends?!”

“Pretty good.” he replied. “But…..Mom?

*long pause*

You know how you always tell us we can talk to you about stuff? There’s something I haven’t told you that I probably should.”

“Oookay. Let’s hear it.” I said, preparing for the worst.


*long inhale*

…I used to be a part of Muscle Club at recess.”

me: noncommittal “mmhmmmmm” noises that encourage him to keep talking while simultaneously stifling laughter.

“Muscle Club is a bad, bad place. They make bad choices…like….chasing girls. So I decided to stop going to their meetings.”

me: *silently scream-guffawing on the inside* “Mmm. Meetings, you say?”

“Yeah, Muscle Club meetings. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I’m not in the club anymore.”

me, begging God to not let him say ‘Muscle Club’ again for my composure’s sake: “Well, buddy, that – *cough* – that sounds like a great decision. I’m really proud of you.”

“Thanks.” he exhaled, the weight of his confession visibly lifted.


I just….I can’t with Muscle Club.

I mean, it’s bad, maybe. And YES, SON, NEVER BE A GIRL-CHASER.

But also, son, that’s about the cutest thing I’ve ever heard.

Like a prison yard, only recess.

Instead of a 50 year old with a teardrop tattoo rolling up cigarettes in his shirtsleeve, a 6 year old with ketchup stains on his pants showing off his skinny little biceps.

They named their underground gang “Muscle Club”.

M U S C L E   C L U B.

It’s a hard knock life out there for a kindergartner.


Hilarity aside, I really am proud of our guy – the way he loves hard and fights for kindness.

Friendships are hard.

Grace is hard.

Explaining that hurt people hurt people to a kid is hard.

Probably not as hard as a lifelong Muscle Clubber, but hard nonetheless.

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