I had a small glimpse of the future the other night, and I'm scared.
I've always been a little emotionally sensitive and my feelings are easily bruised. I endured childhood with the help of my mother who always helped pick me up and brush off the debris of an adolescent attack. "Stiff upper lip" she'd say, and I'd try like hell to stop the quiver that inevitably led to hot streaming tears.
My oldest son is much like me though I think he's got a bit tougher skin. I've tried to teach him that when someone does something he doesn't like he should ask them politely to stop and if they don't he should just walk away. And he does. There are times though when the taunting is too much to take and he collapses in to a puddle of tears. Kids can be so mean. And he's only 4.
Bii is taking swimming lessons. He's in a summer program at the Y with only two other kids. One of them is a 6 year old boy and Bii thinks he's pretty cool. They've had some fun together. When we arrived at class this week the boy came up to Bii and started teasing him that he looked like a girl who was in the pool. Come over here little girl... Then he stared calling him his "toy" and tried to wind him up. Come on my little toy, DANCE! Bii didn't like it one bit. The kid's mother was right there and SAID NOTHING to her son to make him stop. I didn't think it was appropriate for me to say anything so I was silent too.
Kids will be kids, I know. But I honestly can't believe that this kid's mother didn't intervene and try to get him to stop taunting my son. Maybe she was embarrassed? Maybe she just didn't care? If the tables had been turned you can bank on it that I would have said something to my son and if he didn't stop we would leave. When you behave poorly, there are consequences.
As the taunting continued, I became more uncomfortable. Bii seemed stiff and uncomfortable too. I gently pulled my son up on my lap and whispered to him that it was okay for him to tell the boy to stop. He turned to me and said,
It's okay Mama. I'm just ignoring him.
And in that moment I knew. He'll be fine in this sometimes cruel world.
It's me I'm worried about.