The mean girls were at the playground today. They hurt my son’s feelings in a way that only those types of girls can. He doesn’t recognize when he’s being rejected and I am not yet equipped to be brave about witnessing it which made our trip semi-traumatizing.
The rules at our new town’s playground are unfamiliar to us and it’s taking a while to learn them. Since our move at the beginning of August, we haven’t gone to the playground very often and I won’t deny that the unknown rules are partially to blame. My son gets nervous about going probably because he sees me trying to work up the courage to go.
But today, of all days, when the humidity practically knocked us over as we made our way out the door, we decided to go.
Once there, my son spotted a group of girls playing and since they were his age, he ran over to join them. He introduced himself and asked them to play. The little girls screamed “NO!” and told him to go away. My son, totally oblivious to being burned, persisted and picked up a toy to help them do whatever they were doing. He did not get all up in their business, either. He kept a respectful distance. One of the girls yelled at him again and another one leaned over and ripped the toy from his hand.
Maybe it was the sweat collecting at my bra’s underwire or the fact that I had never seen my son rejected so sharply but those little shits turned on The Teacher. My feet automatically planted. My hand went on my hip. My eyes GOT THIS BIG and my eyebrows merged with my hairline.
I looked one of the girls right in the eye with The Teacher on full throttle and she stared right back at me.
And since I wasn’t her teacher and I knew what her stare meant (should I mention here that I used to be her?), I had a word with my son and eventually got him to play somewhere else. I don’t know all the rules but I’m certain that The Teacher can only go so far on The Playground.
After some processing, my son realized what had happened and stood at the top of the slides that overlooked where the girls were, cursing them out in the best way he could: “You’re not nice. When I come back to the playground I don’t ever want to see you here again! That was NOT NICE!”
Alright, little dude. Let’s move on.
I was coaching him to get over it but I couldn’t move on. We came back to the house, the kids went down for their nap, and I started clacking away on my computer about it. Then I erased it. Wrote something else. Deleted it. Shut off the computer. What bothered me so much about it? Should I done something differently? What could I really do about it anyway?
Later tonight, we went to the library for some air-conditioned entertainment. In the kids section were two girls who were playing with a Lego set. My son walked up, introduced himself and asked if he could play with them.
“Sure! Can you help us make this bridge?”
Maybe they would have been little shits too had it not been for the controlled climate. However, at that point, I didn’t care. If someone was watching me, they might have wondered if I had just popped a tranquilizer. My thinking was something very dramatic like Thank you God, not all kids in this town are going to reject my son.
Which is nice, but that’s not the real lesson I needed to learn from today. What today taught me (again) is that children need many experiences with the same topic to learn ANYTHING. It also helps them understand that nothing is ever ALL good or ALL bad. God, why can’t I remember this? I’m a teacher.
It is why even after the most horrendous restaurant/museum/party meltdowns from my kids, I take them again and again- so they learn what is expected of them.
Today, through good luck, I unwittingly did that with my son. I took him out to socialize and it went horribly. I took him out again the same day and he learned that not all girls would treat him like crap when he initiated play. Now I have to keep doing it for both of us.
I also want those girls to remember him. Oh yes, we will run into them again at the playground. In 13 years, they’re all going to be boy crazy and my son is going to be one hell of a good looking kid who will have learned by then how to pick the good ones from the rotten. Learning the rules is good and karma, delightfully, is a little shit.
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