I’m not sure the right way to go about writing this. It’s something that’s sat heavily with me for weeks now, as I’ve watched it unfold and I’ve wondered what the right answer is. Of course, I knew I’d eventually turn to the masses for suggestions, but I had to wonder: is writing this insulting the boy my son is growing in to?
Both of our boys are sensitive, emotional children. Jack (10 years) is your typical rough-and-tumble boy. He loves sports, he plays video games, and he looks like Opie. (I’m sorry, but he does. It’s one of my FAVORITE things about him.) He’s also an incredibly big-hearted boy, naturally empathetic and caring. He’s a great big brother.
Tony (3) is very much the same emotional child. Incredibly sensitive, he’ll be the first to ask “What’s wrong?” if you’re not smiling. His emotions are deeply tied to those around him. He’s also, you know, THREE. He loves to kick the ball and run and jump and all those things too. Boys will be boys and that nonsense.
When Tony moved up into the next class at daycare, his former teacher hugged him hard and said, “Don’t you let (Kid A) and (Kid B) push you around up there, okay?” Which was, you know, sweet and terrifying at the same time. Kids are pushing MY kid around?
::deep breath:: Don’t be a Momma Bear, Sarah. Free Range Parenting, Sarah. ::deep breath::
Tony’s been coming home repeatedly with stories about the boys in his class .. his friends, mind you .. hitting him or pushing him down. And, to an extent, I let it go. Boys will be boys. Also, my child has my grace and will trip over gravity and then try and blame the rotation of the earth for it. But I pulled up yesterday to watch his class playing outside without anyone seeing me. And I watched the little microcosm of their world. And I didn’t like it.
The boys in his class would take whatever he had from him. He’d let them, wide-eyed and hurt. They’d knock him over and he’d let them. He’d stare at them, not understanding why they were acting that way, and they’d scurry off. It happened repeatedly. He played with no one as a result. Kept to himself because it was safer that way.
He asked me last week, “We don’t hit anybody, right, Momma?”
No, honey. We don’t hit anyone. Because we are nice to everyone.
“What about bad guys?”
Well, there aren’t a lot of bad guys out there, bud. And if there ARE bad guys, that’s why we have policemen and army men and teachers. They help us fight the bad guys.
“And sometimes, they just need a hug, right?”
You got it, buddy.
And this conversation just pinballed through my mind yesterday as I watched this. My child, the one who would rather take ballet than soccer, who loudly proclaims pink as his favorite color, the one who tends to his stuffed animals over his action figures.. am I doing him a disservice? Am I teaching him to be a pacifist or to just be passive?
Clearly, I see nothing wrong with how he is. I love his big heart and his compassion. I love how he’s his own kid and doesn’t really care. But .. I don’t know. It scares the hell out of me.
And I don’t know how not to let it.