Thursday, June 08, 2006

Parenting is hard

Sometimes being a good parent is all about ignoring your instincts.

A couple of days ago my mom and I took Joseph and Elle to play at a kiddie pool. After we had been there of a few minutes Joseph found three older boys (maybe they were 8 or 9) who were playing a game where they tried to push each other down under the water. I called Joseph over and told him that it was ok if he played with the boys but that he couldn't push or be pushed. Call me over protective but I couldn't see letting my very gentle little boy get pushed around by three little ruffians. Anyway, that seemed to be an ok plan for a while. The boys pushed and splashed and Joseph mostly just followed them around squealing.

Then things took a turn for the less fun. I looked away for one second to make sure that Elle wasn't floating away and I look back to see Joseph sitting by the side of the pool crying. I hop up and start walking quickly over to him. The older boys went into defense mode. They were no dummies. They know that when a 6 foot tall woman is storming over to her child that you just made cry you start coming up with answers and quick. In reality I wasn't even going to say anything to the boys, I just wanted to find out from Joseph why he was crying.

Joseph told me that one of the boys told him he couldn't play with them anymore because they were playing a pushing game and he wasn't allowed to push. I had two instincts right then. The first was to scoop Joseph up and cradle him and soothe him and help him feel better. The second was to tell those older boys "You're going to play a gentle game with my son and you're going to like it!" I did neither.

First I told the boys (who were still loudly proclaiming their innocence) that I knew they hadn't done anything wrong. Then I whispered to Joseph that he needed to stop crying because otherwise those big boys were not going to want to play with him. Then I told him that he needed to either find someone else to play with or he needed to ask the boys if it was ok if he just splashed instead of pushed. The littlest of the bigger boys was furiously whispering to his friends "Is it ok if he just splashes? His mom says he can't push!"

As they discussed it with each other my sweet and gentle little boy sat on the side of the pool shivering and saying "It's ok! We'll work out a plan! It's ok, right Mommy? We can work out a plan? My friends will still let me play with them? Right?" Augh, that was hard.

In the end they decided that he could splash instead of push. Joseph went back to following them around and squealing and they went back to mostly ignoring him. He was happy. I was a mess. I wanted so bad to demand that those little boys be nice to him and include him. I just want the whole world to see how gentle he is and to be as gentle with him in return. It's hard knowing that the older he gets the more he's going find that not everyone is as nice as he is and not everyone is going to want to be his friend. Why can't I just follow him around for the rest of his life making sure everyone is nice to him?

1 comment:

Grandma Judy said...

Jen.....you did the right thing. It seems like the youngest of the three boys and Joseph were on the same page. Work out a compromise. I know it is hard, but it might be that Joseph will show the others the way to treat others. He truly is a gentle, compassionate soul. Through his example, he will make big changes in the world. That is what the world needs right now. But, it will be difficult. But with supportive parents and family, he will be all right. Love to all of you..... Grandma Judy