One thing I hate thinking about as the boys get older is what kids can do to other kids with their words. I’ve seen it primarily as a teacher, but I also remember it from growing up. Kids can be so cruel and I’m leery of what they might say to my boys, especially because of Cal’s eye. I want to teach them to be strong and self-confident enough to handle the jabs and teases that come from just being around other kids.
I was reminded of what peers can do today at storytime. There’s a train table by the little stage at the bookstore and after storytime was over there were was one fairly old kid there—maybe 8 or 9—and another one a little younger who seemed to be taking lessons on everything the older kid did and said. Clark started playing at the table. He picked up a little bus and started pushing it around on the train tracks. To his follower and everyone in the children’s section, the older boy loudly mocked, “Look! That kid is pushing the bus on the tracks. He thinks it’s a train! That’s so weird!” This made his follower laugh.
I don’t think Clark even heard them, but I did. I had two thoughts: that kid is a big dumb jerk and way too big for the train table, and: if Clark is getting made fun of for this pretending, he will have way more to endure since he is constantly pretending. Both thoughts made me sad and made me want to keep the boys away from all kids for as long as possible, but of course that isn’t possible or even healthy.
After that incident that disturbed me, the boys and I made our way over to our clubhouse to pick up our pool passes. Some readers may remember that the boys have a sordid past with the pool and with large bodies of water in general, but today they just wanted to stare at the pool and the people in the pool and talk about them. On the way home I turned around to see both boys on their feet and hands. “Look mom, we’re dogs!” They yelled. Almost the entire way home from the clubhouse, minus when we crossed the streets, they were dogs. They named themselves Doo-doo and Wah-wah, and at various times on the walk, needed to be scratched.
As we got to our building they climbed the stairs like dogs and we stopped at our two favorite neighbors’ homes to show them that they were dogs. Mysteriously, the dogs’ names changed twice more as they introduced themselves to both neighbors, who played along wonderfully (Thank goodness one of them is a first grade teacher and the other one has grandkids). Inside I played along by making the dogs peanut butter and jelly dog biscuits and string cheese bones and letting them eat on the floor. I even held the cup while Cal tried to lap up his water.
I know playing this way isn’t bad, in fact I love all their pretending and I love pretending along with them, but I hope their wild imaginations don’t make them targets for mean jokes down the road. I have no idea how to combat that, other than teaching them not worry about what other people say. But I don’t know exactly how to teach that either. I am infinitely thankful that they have each other to stick up for in this journey of childhood; to be dogs together and to drive buses on train tracks.
|Doo-doo and Wah-wah scamper home.|
|Wah-wah gobbles up his biscuits while Doo-doo contemplates his.|