Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Kids Are Mean

A couple weeks ago, Benjamin mentioned to me that some of his friends at school weren't playing with him and even went so far to say that he didn't want to go to school one day because he had no one to play with.

I didn't believe it. Until I saw it.

I assumed he was exaggerating and placing all of these remarks on one isolated incident he didn't fully understand, like the allowance of only two kids in a center area or one kid really intent on his creation that he didn't react well when Benjamin went grabbing for that special project. Or that the one kid he wanted to play with at that exact time was unavailable.

Benjamin isn't an easy kid to understand and I think he struggles to understand others. He's not very social. He clams up and holds his emotions inside until he bursts. He gets hurt feelings, despite his tough exterior or appearance to disregard anyone and everything. But if you touch on something sensitive, he goes into defense mode and says and does things that he can't control because he lacks that full ability to express himself well.

But, like any mom, I felt horrible that he felt underappreciated and devalued. I want the kids to love him, but he's an introvert loner who doesn't seem to have the whole social awareness thing down. And it does bother him. So I wanted him to know that it does bother me, too. I want him to know I take his concerns seriously because I want him to love school and I love him. This whole social confusion is most of what preschool is about, right?

We were at storytime yesterday and in walks a girl from his class. He sits beside her, smitten that someone from his class was at our storytime. He's met other classmates there before and they've always been nice. This girl, wasn't. When the story ended or the librarian read a funny joke, he'd turn to look and see her reaction, as to connect with her. She turned her whole body against him and at one point actually moved herself away from him. Of course her mom was either oblivious (or a jerk) and didn't react.

I grabbed him up and told him she wasn't interested in being friendly and immediately he welled up with tears and started saying unkind things ("I don't love you", etc.). This is how he reacts when he feels threatened. I felt terrible and honestly had some ugly words in my head rolling around about that little brat of a four-year-old.

He has to know that life isn't fair. It's not. People are going to disappoint you. They will. Friends will come and go. Also true. It's just... really hard being Mama and seeing your little bird take flight, only to fall and gain those bruises. This is only the beginning.


Laura Jane said... [Reply to comment]

Gracie has said some of the kids at school are nasty to her, or tell her they don't want to play with her.
It breaks my heart. I try to be compassionate and understanding "maybe they were having a tough day?" but now it's to the point where I tell her not all people are nice people, and not all little kids are our friends. I know she'll get there. I know she will. But it's hard.

I basically want to go in there and smack heads together if they're not going to be kind to my special snowflake ;)

Mama Bear said... [Reply to comment]

I'm sorry! That is so hard for my heart to imagine kids being really mean. Bode is an introvert too and I know the social component is the hardest part of school for him. He has had kids not want to play with him sometimes and it is heartbreaking. I hope Ben finds his nitch soon and that the other kids discover all his charms. I'm sorry it is so hard in the meantime. xoxo

Anna Wagner said... [Reply to comment]

Friend, I get you. Ella has ADHD, so social cues are something we have always and will always struggle with.
And I am sorry but parents are jerks if they don't see their kids not including other kids.
They learn at home.
Sending you and Benjamin so much love.

Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

Oh this stuff is so hard on the mama heart and I suspect will only get harder. The other day Finn was asking me, "what's Finn sized?" And I got the impression he was being picked on for his size and it breaks my heart because I know middle school sure isn't gonna be any better

Brie said... [Reply to comment]

Breaks my heart. We had an incident last week that made me so sad for Sal. He often tells me he doesn't play with anyone, and like B, isn't a super social kid. Anyways, we were at trader joes and a mom of a boy in Sals class recognized Sal and said, "look, there's Sal from school." Her son turned to her and said, "I don't like him, he breaks everyone's stuff." The mom was mortified. I was mortified. Was this true? It certainly is at home (he loves to tear down anything G and Ca build)--but did it trickle into school life as well? I had no idea?! Communication with our teaching staff is next to nothing, so I just said to the child, "I'm sorry you feel that way about him. We all try to be nice people but sometimes we have big feelings and do things that are mean." The mom apologized again for what her son said, and I left the store grilling Sal on why this little boy would say such a hint if it wasn't true (which Sal was adamant was NOT true.)

A few mom friends work in the kids class, and they assure me Sal is one of the more polite and quiet kids. He participates, but isn't center of attention. But my kid the mean destructo kid that nobody likes? I'm still wondering!

I feel ya mama. They have to figure out these complex social situations out on their own, but it is so hard to sit back and watch.

Julie said... [Reply to comment]

Ohhhhhh, Brandy, this breaks me. I fell in love with Ben that weekend in Chicago and to think even for a moment that he's getting the cold shoulder from peers makes me want to weep and simultaneously clock them. Kids ARE mean and I've always been a bit petrified of this very thing (and worse, I already want to lock Cate into the safety of our love in her teenage years). He's priceless.
I don't know what else to say...have you/are you talking to the teachers? What have they said? Are they aware? Oh Ben, honey. I'd like to scoop him up too.