Kids Being Kids Part 2

The afternoon following T’s haircut I posted this on facebook: Quote of the day from T, “Um…I forgot to tell ya. I’m not a fan of short hair.” Oh dear. I told him he can grow it back if he wants….

After a bit of digging it became clear that he wasn’t a fan of short hair because someone told him his hair looked ugly.

Listen, it would be easy for me to be mad and defensive that T’s feelings were bruised. I love my kids so fiercely that anytime they are hurt I see red, it is a biological response.

I let myself have that pang of anger. And then I let it go.

Because as we were having our conversation I could imagine another family in that very moment having a similar discussion about something T said that hurt one of his classmates feelings. And I bet that those parents were seeing red and thinking all sorts of terrible things about my boy.

Kids are mean. Because they are trying to figure out what they can get away with. Because the concept of “social niceties” are way beyond their comprehension. Because they didn’t get enough sleep the night before or they are adjusting to a new sibling or they are having a growth spurt.

I’m more interested in talking to T about how he felt when his feelings were hurt than worrying about the other kid. I want him to remember how he felt the next time he decides to say something mean to anyone else. And people are going to be mean to him for the rest of his life. The sooner he develops some tools to deal with it the better.

We talked about how the person that said his hair was ugly might not have even meant it. S/he might have been having a bad day, or s/he might have been confused that T looked so different, or s/he might have not liked that T was getting a bunch of attention. We talked about how we need to feel bad for someone who is being mean because they are often unhappy themselves. We talked about how important it is not to be mean to people. And by “we talked” I mean I talked at him. Remember, dude is 4. We will probably have the same conversation a million times before it even begins to sink in.

T and this kid seem to bring out the worst in each other. I’ve watched them interact and been shaken by T’s behavior. A couple of weeks ago I mentioned to Z that at least they won’t be going to kindergarten together. Z pointed out that there will always be that kid in T’s class. Even if it isn’t the same kid. Hell, T will be the that kid for someone else’s family. Zeke was right.

And I was really ashamed of myself for wanting the easy way out.

Shouldn’t we face dealing with the realities of how kids treat each other (and again, T is culpable. His behavior in this relationship has been unacceptable at times) rather than hoping the problem will go away when the kids don’t spend time together anymore?

Smart parent friends: how have you handled this with your kids? Seems like I am lucky enough to know a ton of people with compassionate and loving children. How did you parents do it? You guys are my fucking heros, by the way.

short haired boys

All my boys watching a movie.

big kid legos

Does he look older with the short hair? Or does he look younger? I can’t seem to make up my mind.

hotel view

The view from our hotel patio last week. Man, do I miss being warm.

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6 thoughts on “Kids Being Kids Part 2

  1. I worry about this for my son. I had a rough time as a kid. I was bullied and shunned and whatever else kids could come up with to make me feel bad. But for some reason, it didn’t really matter. It never quite mattered to me that lots and lots of my classmates didn’t like me. I worry that my son will be concerned with these other children’s opinions, that he’ll internalize them, and that nothing I’ll say about his wonderfulness will make a difference. Although I remember very clearly, after a craptastic school bus ride home one day, getting off the bus at my street, feeling the warm sun on an otherwise cold, gray, Massachusetts afternoon, and smiling as I spun around in circles, remembering how much my mother loved me, and how she said I was beautiful.

    • What an amazing memory. And kudos to your Mom for being able to convince you of her love.

      I am fascinated that the cruelty didn’t really matter to you. I was bullied for my 5th grade year and by the winter it had shaken me so deeply I had to be rushed to the doctor’s with severe stomach pain. My mom thought I was having appendicitis. It was gas. Anxiety gas. The very start of my gastrointestinal anxiety issues! I’m laughing as I type this, but damn. It was horrible at the time.

      • Anxiety Gas reminds me of a thing recently where my brother and I had an uncontrollable need to go to Popeyes after a particularly tense family thing. We called it Stress Chicken. Also, too much information, but if I have a performance on a given night, I can’t eat after 12 noon or else I’ll have Nerves Poop until show time.

  2. You’re a good mom. If I ever have children, I’m taking this one with me…and I’m taking it along for myself, too! Thanks for your thoughts on this really, really important topic.

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