So I have this issue. At least I think it is an issue. I am super protective of Noah. Ever since he was up toddling around I thought “it will be the worst thing to see him get his feelings hurt.” I remember when he was not even two and we were at Greek Fest. I watched as he danced with a group of kids his big brown eyes, blond curls, chunky cheeks and a toothy little smile. He was having such a good time. I watched him as the lights twinkled around him with a feeling of pure honest to goodness joy in my heart. It was beautiful. Then in an instant the other kids were gone. The music played on and my sweet little boy stood there with a look of confusion. No, He hadn’t known those kids, no one “left” him, and no his feelings weren’t hurt…yet. For momma bear it was my first glimpse into the reality that one day some kid is REALLY going to hurt his feelings, and the thought made me sick.
Why are some of us so scared to see our children hurt? For me I think part of it is that childhood should be about innocence, goodness, and not having a care in the world. When kids learn that other children can be mean, and that they can too, it really opens up a whole new dimension in their world.
I have always stuck up for people. From a young age if someone was being a bully I would call them on it right away. That isn’t to say I was never the bully, but for the most part I was the anti-bully. I wasn’t scared of the bullies turning on me, I was protective of the quiet, the different, the kids in my school who had special needs. Mess with them and I will make you feel like a total shit head for being such a jerk.
I went to a grade school with a special education program. Seeing someone in a wheelchair, or someone who had severe developmental difficulties was nothing to me. I didn’t look twice, make comments or gawk, and it was because it had always been a part of my life. Come junior high when they integrated the grade schools together it was very apparent that my peers hadn’t been exposed or educated by anyone on others who were different from them.. Just like in grade school I called assholes out on it again in junior high.
One day Noah says to me, “Brady* always stares at me, he stares at me for a long time and I don’t like it.” I asked “well what do you do when he stares at you.” He replied “I stick my tongue out at him.” I had to stifle a laugh, but gave him a brief talk about ignoring people who are trying to make you mad he seemed to grasp it.
The next day I am walking my sweet little boy into preschool and these two little fellas are sitting at a table. I hear one of them say “Ughh it’s Noah!” as he turned snickering to his little accomplice. I felt a rage inside me. My response: I gave those two 3-year-olds the a look that could have knocked them off their kiddie sized chairs. I might have even hissed something at them like “maybe you stare to much.” As I walked Noah to hang up his backpack I felt good, I felt MEAN, I felt like a victory had been won against these little shits trying to start my sons day off bad. When I got in my car I felt like a 3-year-old, and realized I had acted just like one.
My cousin and I have discussed my “protective” nature towards Noah. She brings up some excellent points like “I don’t think you can always jump in because how will he learn to stick up for himself if you are always there.” or “what is he going to do when he is in a situation and turns to look for you to step in and he can’t find you?” She really got me thinking. In my overeagerness to protect Noah from “meanies” I was likely making him an easier target for those type of kids in the future. I have really tried to back off and let him deal with his own issues since. Like today at the pool when this kid intentionally flung water in his face. He stood up leaned in and yelled “stop that! I don’t like that!” Here I was watching my son smiling for sticking up for himself. I should throw in the disclaimer that Noah can also be the bully, which I immediately call him out on.
So now when I see a conflict rising between Noah and other kids, I pause and do my best to stand back and let the little minds and little voices work it out together.
What I REALLY, REALLY want is for Noah to grow up to be like me. I want him to be the anti-bully. I want Noah to not only stand up for himself, but to stand up for the other kids who can’t or won’t stand up for themselves.
BUT I will still yell at the BIG kids playing rough on the little kids playground, and if you are cursing around my son I will tell you to watch your mouth because there are “kids present.” I mean…right? For now I will stay in the shadows restraining myself unless necessary.