She approached the group with caution and lots of prompting from us. At three and a half she’s learning to make friends and play with them instead of along side them.
As she entered the same structure as the three children their words sliced my heart, “we don’t want to play with you!”
She turned towards me and looked for comfort. I held out my hand and called her over, reassuring her that we would play together.
Almost as soon as she had been banished a little boy with the group appeared to have changed his mind and went after her. He apologized for the others’ behavior and told her he didn’t want her to be sad. He sat with her while she cried and told her it would be okay, they would play together.
As a parent it took everything I had to stand back and let it play out. I wanted her to have the experience and not hover. But I also wanted to shield her from the heartache I knew she was feeling.
The little boy asked her to play with them again, even after one of the girls protested his decision and walked away from the group stating she wouldn’t play if my daughter did.
Not old enough to understand the social cues, my daughter toddled off happily with the boy who was called off to a “club meeting” to discuss with the leader why my daughter was playing with him. When my daughter followed she was asked to leave, told she couldn’t play, to go away, and led away by an older child, then told to “go play alone.”
My daughter, sad and without friends to play with again, followed the directions of the older children and went to play alone.
We met her on the other side of the play structure to boost her spirits and take her to the slide.
That’s when I ran into the mother of the boy and told her how wonderful her son had been. How inclusive, helpful, and caring he was towards my daughter. She explained to me that she was with all of the children so I told her what had been happening.
However, she wasn’t the mother of the little girl, the mother was there and she was angry. When the situation was explained to her she took it as a personal attack, screamed in my face, screamed all over the park and then dragged her child from the park.
And my only observation?
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
How are we supposed to raise children as a community if we are tearing each other down when faced with difficult situations that call on us to use our skills and teach our children right from wrong?
Screaming at each other, making fun of one another, excluding?
Children learn these behaviors from us.
Set an example.
Lets do this together.