other people’s children

Several months ago I came to the realization that I do not like other people’s children as much as my own.  This may seem a “well, duh” moment to most people, but it was hard for me as I have typically considered myself to universally love children.  (I am, after all, a school teacher.) 

I have some really good friends around here.  It is not uncommon to hear any of us say, “say, yes please” to any of the other children and we all appreciate the universal parenting within our group.  Little Red sent many of those mothers Mother’s Day e-cards.  We’re all in an “it takes a village to raise a child” mindset and with our similar behavioural expectations, our children are being raised the way we want.

I forget, in my cocoon, that not all children are the same as ours.  Every once in a while I’ll have an experience where I think, “man, I just don’t enjoy this child as much as I do others.”  It’s fine when it’s a stranger at the park, it’s uncomfortable when it’s a child I used to like, or the child of a parent I really like.

Yesterday we attended a bbq/pool party with some family at their friends’ house, and with their extended family.   Although there was no one Little Red’s age there, there were several three year olds (he’s 2 1/2), in addition to the myriad of other children.  Within the first half hour Little Red came and found me and asked me to play with him.  At that point there were only two three year olds and they had already refused to share anything with him.  He decided to play in a different room than them, and wanted me to help him build the train tracks.  I was happy to play with him, and I felt confident that it wouldn’t be long before the other kids would let him play with them.

I was wrong and things only got worse during the day.  Fortunately, Little Red is a pretty independent soul and was able to play alone and enjoy himself when he wasn’t playing with us.  For the most part he seemed pretty unaffected by his solitude and I didn’t realize how bad it was until we were driving home.  I started the conversation by repeating to Paul as I have before, how much I truly enjoy Little Red’s company more than others.  Yes, he was younger than many of the other children, but I hoped also that when he was that age he would still retain some of his kindness.

That’s when Paul shared with me some of the things that he had seen, including the time when many of the kids were playing in the sandbox, where Little Red had been earlier.  Little Red went over to join them and one child said, “we don’t want that stupid little kid to come.  He doesn’t know how to play.”  As every mother, I had always hoped that the first time Little Red heard the “s” word it would not be in reference to him. 

It broke my heart to see him excluded all day long, and it especially broke my heart to see his cousin be unkind to him (I think that hurt him the most, too.)  Strangers are one thing, he could probably shrug off the malice of the 5 year old with his biting words, but I don’t think any of us will forget the snarl his cousin gave him when he went near a coveted toy.

So a big priority today was to get Little Red some playtime scheduled with some of the friends he likes the best, and spend today hanging out and giving him lots of facetime with me.  In the quiet moments, he’s seemed pretty sad today.  When I ask him “what did we do yesterday?” he doesn’t mention the people, the toys, the pool, the food, or the sparklers.  He says, “Jennifer and Kyra,” who were, of course, not at the party but he wishes they were.

I know I can’t shelter him forever and that kids will be kids and kids can be mean.  I also feel that it isn’t fair to never play with less-kind kids because those mothers deserve friend time just as much as anyone and maybe Little Red’s kindness will rub off.  I guess I need to try to find that magical line of balance.  I can’t let him play with certain people exclusively, but I don’t exactly want to throw such a sweet thing to the piranas, either.  I know it’ll only get worse before it gets better, and I still feel the pain of such kids from my own childhood.  I don’t care about popularity, but I don’t want him to feel the sting of rejection so young.

6 thoughts on “other people’s children

  1. This totally breaks my heart! Poor Little Red! I can’t believe it was his cousin that was saying that! Did you talk to your sister/SIL? Sometimes just talking to the parents can solve the problem as a lot of parents have no idea that they’re kids are behaving badly when out of sight.

    I try really hard to see the best in other people’s kids. I genuinely love a lot of my friends kids, but, wow, there are a few that just get under my skin. Granted, there are also a few parents that get under my skin too, but Jaedin and Jenacy love their kids so I have to keep up a friendship for the kids sake (they’ll thank me later, right?).

    Give Little Red lots of hugs! 🙂

    Oh no, it wasn’t his cousin that said that. His cousin wasn’t being nice, but at least he wasn’t the one that used the “s” word.

  2. I am so sorry that this happened to Little Red. I felt like I was reading an experience that happened to M. Pretty much the same thing happened. Right then and there I made a vow that she would never say such things to other children. Especially her younger sister.

    Some kids that were M’s age wanted to exclude L, but M would not allow it. It is times like that that make me the most proud.

    What a sweet big sister!

  3. You’re right. Other peoples children suck. I hated kids until I had my own…now of course, I love them beyond words. But really, the other kids are bad, their parents are the one that should be beaten.

    Well, that might be a bit harsh, but thank you for your commisseration.

  4. wow, I almost teared up reading your post. I think you have a good mind-set and that you’ll find balance in it all. Kids can be so polarized at times. With their innocence and simple love also comes brutal rejection. I’m glad that (most) of us grow out of it eventually and realize that people are people.
    oh, Little Red. I want to give him a hug.

    You know, you can come over and give him a hug yourself. 😉

  5. I know how you feel. We went to a park once and there were these two little kids playing. And they kept trying to make Logan go away because he was younger than them. One of them even took a handful of the woodchips/tire shreddings that were on the ground and put it down his shirt! Luckily for Logan, his grandma and grandpa AND mom were there to say something, and trust me, we said something. And we couldn’t even figure out where these kids parents were! At this BIG huge public park, no less. Logan wasn’t even really trying to play with them…he was just in the vicinity of them, but they just weren’t open to his being in the area even, let alone playing. Then at the same time, there was this dad running around and being a monster with his kids! Logan gravitated to them, and there were kids his age there too. They let him in on the game and he laughed and had a great time. So it really does seem to be the parents that make the biggest difference in teaching their kids compassion and acceptance! I hope that as Logan gets older, he too, retains these traits that he has. He LOVES other kids…and tries so hard to play with them. I know that he will never let anyone hurt his little sister either!!

    I really dislike “park kids.” I have a friend who won’t go to the park unless it’s for our playgroup because she’s tired of the hooligans — and this is Glendale, it’s not like we’re in the inner city!
    Olivia is very fortunate to have a brother like Logan.

  6. I’m so sorry this happened to Little Red. That really wasn’t fair for such a sweet kid to have been treated so horribly.

    When Will was around 2 and we started going to playgroup there were some boys that were about 1 1/2-2 yrs old than him. He wanted so much to play with them, they weren’t nice to him but he really didn’t notice. But I did. Now that he is the age those boys were it makes me happy to see that the little boys that are Sydnie’s age that look up to Will and want to play with him are treated nicely. He includes them and plays with them even though they are younger.

    He’s a sensitive soul though and gets his feelings hurt by the girls his own age.

    I’m sure that Reed will continue to be a sweet kid and treat other kids better than he was treated by some.

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