Part Bully Part Friend
It was an eventful trip at the park this afternoon. Nathan was bit on the shoulder by the same 3-year-old boy who hit Ava in the face. It just so happens that this 3-year-old boy's sister is in Nathan's class at school. That wasn't a big deal at all. Before I tell what was a big deal, let me try to describe Nathan to you, because it involved him. He is a natural born follower. With other children, he is agreeable. He doesn't care if he doesn't get to call the shots. He'll be super boy (complete with super powers), or the boy who is ALWAYS elected ‘it’ (over and over and over). He just loves to play. He loves to make friends everywhere we go. He is loving and gentle, he is kind and helpful, he is obedient. I often have to remind him that older boys don't like to hug like he does and maybe try to ask for a high five instead. He remembers when I tell him not to go 'up' slides and while his friends go up the slide the wrong way, he goes up the steps, the right way, and meets his friends at the top. He complies when I tell him to lower his voice or calm down. He obeys when I tell him to watch out for little ones. He will play with anyone who wants to play with him. Of course he's not perfect, but out and about - he's truly a dream come true. I very rarely have to discipline him out. I do quite a bit of teaching but he's easily swayed in the right direction.
Today Nathan learned what a bully is. I hate that I had to type that. A seven-year-old boy 'joined' Nathan, a 4-year-old girl and another younger boy playing and very soon I heard this seven-year-old boy saying, "You can't play with us. I don't want you to play. Go away, you're not playing with us". Well Nathan didn't really believe that he was serious and just kept playing with them anyway. I started slowly walking in their direction and overheard the boy say to my son, "Where is your mom?" Nathan pointed to me with an angelic smile and the boy then proceeded to address me. He said, "I don't want your son to play with me, he can't play with us. This is my game and I say he isn't going to play". I ignore this boy and look at my son and say "Nathan, it's OK if someone doesn't want to play with you, you just find someone else to play with." With that, my son BURST INTO FULL BLOWN HUGE CROCODILE TEARS. WAILING, as if he had just been kicked out of the park on his rear end. He was beside himself. I soothed him the best I could. He was absolutely devastated! I stared daggers into that boy (in my mind, I wasn't actually looking at him, I was thinking about him with daggers) who was playing with Nathan's friends that he had made prior to this boy's arrival. After a few minutes, I watched Nathan walk over to play on the same playground equipment that these kids were playing at. The seven year old started up again. "You are NOT PLAYING WITH US. GO AWAY" I wanted to hiss at that child. I wanted to tell him he wasn't the BOSS of the playground. I wanted to hurt this boy's feelings, the way he had hurt my little boy's feelings. But I just patiently told Nathan, "Nathan, it's ok to play there. You go ahead and climb up and play." By now the Lord must have realized that my restraint was wearing thin. My turn the cheek attitude only goes so far, I'm afraid. I was offended. Highly offended. The child's parental figure appeared and attempted to rebuke the child. I say attempted because this child was clearly in control, not the parent. This was confirmed later when the parental figures had a difficult time getting the child out of the park when it was time to go. Anyway - Nathan came and sat by me and we talked for a few minutes. I told him that I was sorry that the boy had hurt his feelings and that excluding people from playing often times causes hurt feelings and that's why we should always let other join in and play. I told him HE does a great job at that but that everyone doesn't play by the same rules. I told him that we needed to forgive that boy and continue to be nice to him if we see him again. Nathan said he wanted to pray for him and I agreed. I was quick to tell him that the Lord might not change the boy's heart right away but one day he may want to play with him. Well, at that moment, that boy started walking over from the other end of the park shouting at Nathan, "Hey boy! Hey you. Come here. Do you want to play a little?" "Just a little?" "You can play with me this much." (Complete with fingers open just a little) Nathan looked at me and I smiled and nodded my head and off he went. He so desires affirmation. I know the feeling. I forgive Robert (the parental units used his name OVER AND OVER while begging him to leave with them) for offending me by causing pain to my child. I hope that his parental figures find the key to his heart. Surely a boy like that needs affirmation too. I wish I could have said to him in the beginning "That isn't a very nice way to act. Why don't you try being nice to everyone and be a good leader to these little ones. You're the oldest one and they look up to you, you know" I could have said something like that. It would have been a gentle, kind, and loving rebuke. Maybe he would have spit in my face, or maybe he would have run away, or been ashamed, or maybe he would have said "OK". All I know is that I've never seen such pain in my little boy's eyes before and I hope I never see it again.