I’m not sure how many “What to Expect” books one needs to read before they get to the part that prepares you to have your heart shattered into a million pieces. I must have missed it or still haven’t gotten to it.
Last night after dinner, we were cleaning up and the kids were outside playing. We live in a small neighborhood and know all our neighbors, so our kids have a free range. Littles was playing on the swing set and Bigs went a couple of doors down to check out what the neighbor kids were doing.
The neighbor kids in this case (and most cases) are older than ours. They know it is okay to tell Bigs and Littles that they need to go home when they come ask to join in whatever play is going on. I always hope they get included, but understand that isn’t how life works. Sometimes the kids are playing basketball and Bigs just isn’t quite big enough to be in the game yet. Other times the kids switch from 3 on 3 to HORSE or PIG so he can be part of the fun.
Bigs hadn’t been gone long before he came running home. He said, “Daddy, were you calling for me?” My husband hadn’t been and Bigs saw the answer in his expression before my husband said anything. His lip started quivering and said, “Tony and Alana were playing tricks on me. They said that you and Mommy were calling for me, so I came running home. You weren’t calling for me. Were you?”
We had a special treat already planned and all sat together to have ice cream with hot fudge. Dinner had been chaotic, so we hadn’t talked about our highs and lows. Each of the kids offered up the best parts of their days. I asked if anything had made them sad today. Littles offered that she had a happy day. Bigs raised his hand to answer.
“It really hurt my feelings that Alana and Tony were playing tricks on me.”
The rational part of me realized that this wasn’t going to be the first rejection for Bigs. The irrational, momma bear, crazy woman wanted to blaze over and hulk smash those two rotten kids. (They aren’t really rotten… that’s my rational self talking.) I tried to play it cool and validated how Bigs was feeling. What happened next crushed me. Holding back tear Bigs shouted, “I didn’t want chocolate syrup on my ice cream!” He took off near sobs up to his room after he was told that he asked for hot fudge (and for the record had eaten almost all of it.)
A few minutes later, I followed him to his room. He was working on his Legos… still very sad. I asked if we could talk about what he was feeling and he said, “Why do kids play tricks on other kids?”
“I don’t know.” My mind raced. Why is anybody mean to another person? I didn’t think the kids were intending to be unkind. They clearly didn’t think that a five year-old would pick up so quickly on their lie. “Sometimes it is hard for people to say what they really mean. They worry about hurting your feelings not realizing it only makes it worse when you find out they aren’t telling the truth.”
“I don’t ever want to do that to another kid.”
Bigs is going to be okay. Maybe he learned a lesson that will save another child from a similar hurt. Realistically, he is five and will probably do something equally stupid. I, on the other hand, learned tonight that white lies can hurt. Lies erode trust, even if they are small. Or when they are told in an effort to protect someone. As my heart broke from my child, I’m reminded to be impeccable with my words.