I have had this on my mind all evening and I had to have someone to talk to about it. Though a random post for DadRevolution, I turn to this community for an open ear. If there is one thing I know about this community of online dads, it is that there is always an ear that will hear you. Let me give you the breakdown.
My wife and I were having a discussion about how are son views other children that he does not know. This conversation stemmed from an incident at the playground in which Little Man got his feelings hurt by another child. My wife said she couldn’t stand the thought of that happening in school as he gets older. I have to agree it is not a pleasant thought, but it is not something I can prevent. It happened to me when I was in school. I’ll admit to coming home in 7th grade and crying because I got picked on for being short. It happened. I think in some way it has happened to everyone at some time in their life.
Then, just now as I was starting this post, Little Man rolled out of his new big boy bed while asleep. I heard a thump that sounded like someone had dropped a medicine ball. I ran upstairs when I heard him cry and found him sitting up in the floor, looking for someone to come comfort him. The tears were rolling down his face and he was sobbing hard enough to not catch his breath. Immediately I picked him up and started looking for knots and bruises, checking for cuts or scrapes. Nothing. Not a single injury. Relieved by this I moved on to the next question. “What happened baby boy?” I asked. With a loud sob he sat up, looked down as if he was ashamed, and cried “I fell out of the bed daddy!” He was devastated not by physical injury, but his pride of being a “big boy” had been shattered into pieces and his feelings were hurt. I could see it in his face and hear it in his voice. My heart was broken for him. He is sensitive when it comes to things like this and I think it is mostly from being scared and in shock.
I told my wife that I don’t want to raise my son to be scared of everyone and everything. I don’t want him to view tiny errors as huge failures, or view every strange child as potential harm. His feelings will be hurt more as he gets older. Someone will pick on him for something, or he will do something that he deems embarrassing. It is part of the human experience. On the other hand, I also don’t want to raise a fighter. I want him to know how to channel his feelings in a creative way. Resorting to violence never solves a thing. It seems to be a struggle sometimes as I seek to understand his feelings a little deeper and how certain situations affect him.
Little Man has a heart of gold. Quick to rush to anybody’s side if he believes something is wrong, and always there to tell you that “it’ll be alright. You’ll be oooooookay.” He has a sweet nature that coupled with his baby blue eyes and blonde shaggy hair, will land him all the ladies in kindergarten. Swoon they will, and eat it up he shall. He loves attention, not from being spoiled (though of course he is a little bit) but because he enjoys laughter. He loves to see people smile and having fun. In a lot of ways, he is my Granddaddy and my Papa combined. His nature and charismatic presence can sometimes be a site to behold, and you just have to be there for it to get that impact. Of course, the other side to all of this is his ill tempered, stern faced, arms folded, turning his back, rolling his eyes, and shouting “NO” 4yo self that hates to not get his way when he sees something he wants. In that way, he is me at that age. Just ask my folks. He is my Little Man. That is how he is and who he is and I would not trade him for the world.
I reflect on his sensitive nature tonight as he has had his feelings challenged and his pride hurt this week. Can I protect him better from the things that hurt him? Probably not. Aside from keeping him inside this apartment with me, there is nothing I can do. He will be in 4yo kindergarten this fall, which is a world away from the preschool he is in now. The chances for such events will be greater, and he will be getting his first lessons in how to handle his feelings and work to understand other children. He will want to be friends and play with everyone, and not everyone will want the same. It will hurt me greatly to hear him talk about such things and all I can do is give him an ear that hears. This is part of life though, right? This is part of the experience of growing up. It starts when we are really young and continues for a lifetime. If only there were some way for it to just be easier.