Kids are cruel.
Of course I’ve known this for a while, but lately I’ve been noticing that the cruelty starts even earlier than I feared.
We were at Chick-Fil-A, and like always, I was the only parent in the little play area. (Why is that?) There were 2 other kids in the play area; my daughter couldn’t wait to get playing.
But, as I said, kids are cruel.
I heard comments about her outfit of choice (she had on her favorite leopard print leotard, the kind with legs, not the kind that looks like a swimsuit). Then I heard, “Hurry, she’s coming!” A game of keep away from the “strange kid” started – my little girl being the target.
She came down the slide, bawling, and I hugged her tight and told her to just ignore the other kids and go have fun with her brother. “Okay, Mommy,” she said, heading back up.
It happened again, the game and the crying. This times she whispered, “Mommy, I don’t think they like me.” (My heart broke at her words. How much I want to protect her.)
Then the loud roaring started. Getting as close to her face as he can, the little boy was roaring like a lion at my daughter. She started to cry immediately, rushing to get back down to me.
As I held her close again, I sneaked a peak at the other mom. She was oblivious, on the phone on the other side of the glass. Three times my daughter came down, crying. Certainly she would come see what was going on if she saw, right?
“Please don’t roar in her face anymore,” I asked the other child. Then, in a loud enough voice for the other kids to hear I said to my daughter, “They’re going to stop or I will go speak to their mom.”
Bless her heart, she headed back up with her brother at her side.
A few minutes later I noticed the tunnel was blocked, and I was pretty sure I knew where my little girl was, so I kicked off my shoes and heaed on up. Seeing me, the other 2 decided to head down the slide, and I went to find my own 2 who were trapped in the pretend helicopter. We played together for a bit – I wanted to leave a positive feel with them both. Then I decided it was time for us to go.
It’s times like this that I wish I could protect my babies forever.
But they can’t live in a bubble. At some point they need to learn how to deal with people who aren’t nice. They need to learn that not everyone is going to like you. I just wish they didn’t have to learn it so early. And I wish I had the magic words to make the pain go away when it happens.