It happens from time to time. The dreaded chat with my son’s preschool teacher. She tells me that a child was hurtful to my son on the playground. Sometimes there is pushing. Other times it’s words. My son has a form of dwarfism; he’s a little person. It would be silly of me to think that this would never happen. But it still breaks my heart. How can kids be so mean? My son is a sweet kid. He’s always smiling. He loves to play. He’s just like all of his 4-year-old classmates.
I want to hate those kids and their mothers. How could they let their kid be so cruel? I want my son to grow up and be the CEO of a company where the bosses all the mean kids around. But I can’t. I have to help my son move on, to move past these kids, knowing that their lives might be tough, sad or lonely. I have to help him understand that people can be mean. But they aren’t our problem. Their attitude is theirs to keep. And it isn’t about my son, or about any of the kids they are mean to.
The only way my son can move past these situations is if I can do it first. We talk about confidence when dealing with bullies, about asserting ourselves and making it clear that we aren’t going to be affected by cruel words and actions, about calling mean kids out on their behavior. My little boy is great at bossing and pushing his sister around (oh, sibling love), so I know he can do it. Eventually, he will learn to handle these kids and, later in life, these adults. If all goes as I hope, he’ll be able to move on, love his life, and never look back at the jerks.
But it’s tough on me too. It burdens my heart—heavily. Why kids are mean to other kids is something I will never understand. And I’m not alone. Neither is my son. This is all too common. Unfortunately, we can’t stop it. We can’t wish it away either. We have to deal with it. And it’s hard.
The days my heart hurts I think about my son’s contagious smile, his joy in so many things. I think about his awesome friends, how well they play together, and how sometimes a friend will help my son reach or climb without a second thought. These are the kids who the world is going to be made up of. The others are the exceptions. It’s something I have to remind myself often, but I know it’s true.
Some days, I think about my son’s eagerness to learn and how much he enjoys his teachers and school. He can’t get enough—books, projects, songs, games, you name it. He’s ready. At home, he’s always examining his toys and figuring out how they work. Soon he will be taking things apart. It’s still up in the air if I’ll be proud or upset when he takes my phone apart, figures out how it works, but can’t get it back together. That day will come. He’s a sharp kid. He’s set up to succeed. And he will.
Some heart-heavy days are handled well by dreams—visions of the future where my son has overcome cruel people and lives the life he chooses. He’s out there living his dream, with his spouse, his friends and his own kids if he chooses. He’s successful and smart. And he’s still super cute, but in a grown-up way of course.
Sometimes the dream of my son’s awesome future is paired with my aggressive side. Images of the mean kids’ futures are less than desirable (to put it nicely), and they see my son on top and happy. The dreams may not be my best—or most productive—moment, but they do have a common theme. My son moves past mean people, and he’s doing great. That’s the dream I aim to make come true daily.
The day-to-day is where I can see this dream start to come to life. If I think about it, my son’s daily life is where his happiness and his future lies. It’s where he plays, and learns, has adventures, and tries new things. The day-to-day life is how I get through it. I am watching my son thrive, and I know everything will be all right. In fact, it’s going to be awesome.