Monday, June 23, 2014
I see you
I see you over there. Yes, there are 30 little five year olds running around the parking lot and 30 adults- moms, grandmothers, dads, all trying to keep their young charges from running past the orange traffic cones meant to corral the safety towners until the gates open. Yes, it is loud, with babies crying, kids laughing, cars trying to park. Yes, I am just as distracted as the other moms, watching my oldest son hop around the parking lot, chatting with the older brothers and sisters of the safety towners. This kid of mine, he knows everyone. I watch him smile and wave to his friends, totally confident and sure of himself. To be honest, he is a little jealous. His little brother's safety town has permanent structures and a great little town to drive around. My youngest son is wrapped around my leg, hiding from the noise and people. Sure, if I encouraged him he would run off with his older brother. He would laugh and hop and race around in circles like the other little ones. I don't encourage this, though, because, unlike the other children waiting in the parking lot he will not be able to calm down when it is time for class to start. In our world there is a time and a place for "free play", and this is not it. I pick up my youngest. He wraps his fingers through my hair and pets my head as he pops his thumb into his mouth. I whisper into his ear. "I am so proud of you! You are doing great with safety town!" He vacillates between agreeing with me and saying "No, I'm not doing good." We have some self esteem issues to work on with this one.
There is a lot going on, here in this parking lot, but I still see you. I see your son smile at my youngest, the light of recognition in his eyes. I wonder- day care? Pre school? Church? I bend down to my son, questions on my lips, ready to point out his friend and ask where he knows him from. Your son takes a step forward and then I see it. You pull him back. I watch you tell your son "No." "Don't go talk to him."
My oldest appears back by my side at the exact moment that I turn away from you. I heard about you. My sweet husband told me that you had refused to let your son say hi to our youngest the day before, that you acted as though you knew our family from somewhere. My oldest confirms my fears. You do know our family. From church. From daycare. Daycare. Sigh.
I take a breath. I have a choice here. I can be mad. I can tell you how thankful you must be that you have typical, cookie cutter children who never have behavior issues. I can tell you how thankful I am that your children have obviously never suffered at the hands of someone they expected to be able to trust. I could ignore. But this is just the beginning. If we have found ourselves at the same daycare and at the same church, then we very well might find ourselves in the same school class. I know your kids go to our school; your older son was in my oldest son's first grade class. Our kids are friends, and I am not about to allow my oldest son to lose a friend over your narrow mindedness. What happened at that daycare was nothing. A blip on our radar screen that we have already forgotten about. Frankly, it wasn't even the worst behavior we have seen from our sweet boy. Please. You have no idea. My life is busy. Job. Therapy. Doctor's appointments. Kids' activities. Time with my husband. Family fun. House. Managing the household. Errands. Relationships to maintain. I don't have time to educate the world on what can go wrong when babies aren't loved. Or even worse, when babies are starved or abused. I don't have time to educate you. But I know I have to push past all that. My oldest son deserves to have a chance at maintaining his friendship with your oldest son. And my youngest son deserves something too. Understanding.
Yes, this is uncomfortable for me. Yes, I would prefer to not have to step outside of my comfort zone. I want to turn away from you, folding my son into my arms. But I know that this is just the beginning. There will be more moms like you. Moms who need a little education. And I can't run from them all.
No, I can't run. I can use each incident as a teaching opportunity for my boys. As learning opportunities for myself. I can refuse to be narrow minded. I can refuse to allow my oldest to be embarrassed by his little brother. I can refuse to allow my youngest to think he is any less than. I can refuse to hide. This week we are at Safety Town. We will be at Sunday school. We will be at the family wedding. We will be at the bowling alley and the amusement park and the restaurant. We will be at the beach. So yes, I see you. I see your looks and I feel your judgement. I don't care. Bring it on because we are only getting stronger every day.