There’s a kid at Charles’ school named Nicholas. He has some problems… I don’t know what his home life is like, but I do know that his parents smoke and that he entered preschool at age 3 with some severe social problems and speech delays, and he is now almost 5 years old. Nicholas has decided that he doesn’t like Charles.
Everyone likes Charles. Charles is the kid in school who makes friends with everyone, and I hope that never changes. It’s tough to keep that up, but I honestly hope he will forever be a social chameleon, finding ways to relate to anyone in any situation. It’s a trait Tony has and that I envy (I’m a bit socially awkward, whereas Tony will eagerly enter into conversation and find common ground with ANYONE). Charles is, for the most part, a great playmate. He’s happy to follow others’ leads, he’s not bossy, and he doesn’t steal toys… much. I am really proud of him, but also a bit annoyed that the only place he seems to act out is at home. I mean, really, kid, cut me some slack. I weigh a million pounds, I’ve been pregnant forever, and you just told me you wanted chocolate milk. Now you’re throwing a fit because you don’t want chocolate milk? Time Out.
I picked Charles up from school yesterday and he was outside with his class running around playing “fishing.” The playground at his school is fantastic: 2 play structures, an old speedboat filled with sand, an airplane-shaped teeter-totter that seats, like, eight kids and teeters and totters in multiple directions, some climbing tubes, logs, and two playhouses. Charles had finished playing fishing and ran over to one of the playhouses where Nicholas was playing with another little boy (the other little boy is a particular friend of Charles’ – close in age and energy level, from what I gather). Nicholas closed the half door in Charles’ face and said, “Go away! I don’t like you!”
Charles’ posture slumped, his smile wiped right off his face, and his feelings crumbled. He started to cry and run toward me. This was crying like I have never seen him do before – his feelings were hurt and he didn’t understand. He buried his face in my shoulder and after trying to get Nicholas to apologize, the teachers explained a bit about what was going on and we left. I felt like my heart would break.
It’s impossible to explain to a two-year-old that some people aren’t very nice. That some people are mean to others because of various reasons. Maybe Nicholas’s parents are mean to each other or to him. Maybe he is mean because he doesn’t have any control at home. Maybe he has a chemical imbalance.
Oh, but I wish I could take the hurt away. I wish that wiping his tears was enough. Because I can’t be sure that Nicholas won’t be mean to him every day, and even though I know he has to learn to deal with kids like that, I wish he didn’t have to. And I hope that it doesn’t turn him into a mean kid in turn.