I really wanted to sit down this morning and write something funny. I wanted to write something that would make you laugh out loud and possibly spit your coffee onto your computer screen.
I sit down to write, however, and my mind is filled with this instead… anything I write that’s funny will be forced, lame and inadequate.
I’m just not feeling it. I feel like… well I don’t know how I feel. How are you supposed to feel when your son might be a bully?
So yesterday, my friend came over and brought her daughter. It wasn’t the first time. My friend’s little girl is one month older than my daughter, and I think both she and I have visions of our own childhood friendships. There’s pictures of me and my childhood friend playing together on the floor in our diapers, and we are still friends to this day.
Well, every time that she comes over, she hides at her mother’s legs. My friend says when she’s at home, she’s running around crazy and yelling, just like my kids are all the time.
Honestly, I don’t blame her. My kids have inherited my ability to make people uncomfortable almost immediately. They greet her arrival at the door like a pair of poorly trained Golden Retrievers. My daughter stares at her from inches away, and both of them are waving their little hands until I fear the wrist is going to detach. “Hi! Hello! Come on in!”
My friend and I take our perches on our respective couches, and the festivities kick into high gear. My kids proceed to get keyed up because we have company, they run back and forth down the hall, they inspect the little girl’s clothing, her hair, her shoes. They bring her some of their own shoes to compare with hers, this leads to piling toys up around their guest who is still clinging in desperation to her mother.
She asks me politely for some juice in this tiny little voice. I go into the kitchen and make THREE JUICE CUPS. (See, contrary to popular opinion, I DO know what I’m doing.)
I hand out the cups, she’s still waiting patiently in her mother’s lap, chirping out a tiny, “Juice? Juice? Juice?” every couple of seconds. My kids clamor to the back of the couch, which I use as an ineffective, partial barrier to my kitchen. I hand out the cups to each child without incident. Everyone takes a breather for a moment and drinks, the faint whistling of air escaping from the cups the only sound punctuating the silence.
I take this as my cue to sit down and continue my conversation. The rest of the playdate goes pretty smoothly, other than my daughter being convinced that whatever our guest has in her sippy cup is superior and trading her out every few seconds. Plus, her little friend was still not braving the choppy waters any further than a foot or two from the safety of her mother’s lap.
When it was time for my friend and her daughter to go, we stood and walked to the door, deep in conversation. We stood at the door for a minute or two, talking and saying our goodbyes. I look down, and to my horror, my son has her daughter cowering against the wall, menacing her with a plastic T-Rex. The look on her face was most clearly that of abject terror.
“Tyler!” I exclaim, I pull him and the offending T-Rex away from the frightened child.
I didn’t know what to do or what to say. I went through the motions, alternately reassuring her and telling him to be nice to girls.
I was in shock. My kids are active, right, I’ve already somehow reached that conclusion. But aggressive? Bullies? It never crossed my mind, it’s never come up. The only time he leaves my sight is at Sunday School. What if he’s spending that time harassing his quiet, peaceful, timid classmates? Somebody would tell me, right?
Have I done wrong in letting him and his sister roughhouse as long as no one’s screaming or doing anything dangerous? Have I done wrong in not scheduling more playdates, so they aren’t properly socialized?
And afterwards, even though I was down at eye level like they say you’re supposed to be… I could tell that he wasn’t listening and that she wasn’t soothed.
My friend. Does she secretly hate me for allowing my son to bully her daughter, especially after it was so obvious that they were scaring her the whole time? I wrote her a message over Facebook, apologizing for his behavior, explaining that he’s active, but has never been aggressive, insisting that he and I were going to have a long discussion.
But was it enough?
I feel like I have received confirmation that I’m failing as a parent. I mean, isn’t that the ultimate fail? When your children can’t properly interact with the outside world?
I just really don’t know what to say, to him, to her, even to myself.
This is a hard post to write. Not only do I have these deep feelings about this, they are entirely unresolved feelings and issues.
I know it’s bad manners to leave a post without a conclusion, but the conclusion eludes me right now.