This past week has really testing my parenting skills. I don’t mean in a “care and feeding and keeping them mostly alive” way – that I can handle. I mean in a “Mommy, who is God?” kind of way. Those question make an alarm go off in my head that blares: WARNING WARNING! Code red question alert, run away or distract with candy immediately! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised this stuff is starting to come up, since 4 1/2 and almost 3 are ages known for ALL THE QUESTIONS but it doesn’t change the fact that in the moment I freeze up and I never know what to say.
The first one was at the park last weekend, while I was taking pictures and Evan was supposed to be helping but wanted to pout instead. Evan is an expert flouncer – he would win the gold, silver and bronze flounce medals in flouncing and the Flounce Olympics – and was trying to flounce himself away from me…right into the graveyard at Fort Shantok, which is part of the Mohegan tribe’s sacred burial lands. NOT A GOOD SPOT FOR FLOUNCING. (For the record, the graveyard is 100 feet from a playground and a baseball field, it’s not like we climbed a fence to go tromping through it on purpose.) I hissed at him not to go in there but he kept inching further away from me until I said “That is a GRAVEYARD. Stay OUT.”
Stupid, stupid Suzanne. Of course then he wanted to know what a graveyard was and WHY do they put dead people there and are there STILL dead people there and what HAPPENS to dead people once they’re in the ground and does that mean HE is going to turn into dirt TOO???
I managed not to mention zombies. HIGH FIVES.
We both survived, and I think I’m the only one of us who’s still concerned about it, so it wasn’t the worst conversation ever. But it certainly wasn’t a shining moment in using my words.
The second one, which is way harder, is Evan’s bus situation. His best friend since before he was even capable of having friends is on his going-home bus, but there have been some problems with teasing. The good news is Evan isn’t the ringleader and after I found out he was involved we had a good talk and he apologized now he knows he’s supposed to tell people “Those are not kind words, be nice to my friends!” The bad news is four year olds forget stuff and some parents are more involved and some are less involved and when the only adult there is a bus driver whose job it is to DRIVE the bus it’s easy for someone to get their feelings hurt.
In an attempt to separate the troublemakers, Evan ended up with an assigned seat next to a kid he doesn’t know. The bus driver – who is very nice – told me Evan was upset the first assigned-seat day, so I asked him why he couldn’t be friends with the girl he was sitting with. He said,”I don’t want to sit with her, she has yucky boo boos on her face!”
My brain said: “Aaaaaaagh alert alert, your child is a jerk! Fix it! Fix it now!!!”
My mouth said: “Evan! That is not OK! You be nice! To everyone! Even people with…who…different! Everyone is different! We are friends with everyone even different people!”
“OK Mommy,” said Evan.
I composed myself and we talked about it again later. I must not have done too badly, since the next day he told me he sat with (that same girl) and they were new best friends and the bus driver reports that he’s been good. It’s only a 15 minute bus ride, I don’t want it to be the most stressful part of his whole life. It’s crazy to me 4 year olds even know HOW to be mean to each other on the bus – at home the meanest thing Evan ever does to his sister is not share toys. He wouldn’t have any idea how to hurt her with just words and it scares me that pretty soon he probably will. I’m going to need to read a book or watch a YouTube channel or get in touch with Mr. Roger’s ghost somehow to help me navigate this life lesson stuff.
Can we just go back to babies that never sleep and when to introduce finger foods? That seems less likely to cause permanent damage.