Saturday, September 21, 2013
We have all experienced the heartache of exclusion. I've always told myself, I don't need them, I didn't want to be friends with them anyway. Weak words that give me little comfort. But when it happens to my son I honestly don't know what to tell him. My son is outgoing and friendly, but he is 4 so his friendly invitation for others to join him to play are sometimes snubbed, ignored or rudely responded to. I've seen other 3 and 4 year olds scream NO in his face, push him away, tell him he can't be where they are playing and one time he was punched in the eye just for saying Hi. (That time I was actually hysterical and completely embarrassed myself, my sister, my son and the mother of the hitter.) Most of the time I don't say anything and just redirect my son to another kid or another area. Almost always the child he is speaking to is shy or distracted and doesn't even realize. But my irrational fear is that he will lose his gentle, friendly happy spirit even though he always seems unfazed.
Two day ago we were at a playground and he tried to join a group of kids his age, first he asked if they would like to play his game 'Ninjas' and they ignored him. He persisted and asked their names and told them his, he was still ignored. He asked them what they were playing. They all still ignored him. As the group of four year olds stood there in silence for a few moments, one girl instructed the other two boys to "walk away slowly and act normal." I am heartbroken again, I want to scream. But she is only 4 and Cleary doesn't even seem to mind, so I keep my calm and play Ninjas with Cleary. We went to the playground again the next day and he quickly made a friend as he was not phased in the least by rudeness from the day before, I'm not even sure he noticed. He comes home from school and tells me sadly of the friends who won't play with him but excited about the fun he has had with the friends who want to play. He is resilient, I have to keep telling myself this because I have no other answer.
I have been searching for over a year for peace on this subject, I know there has to be an answer. I have asked all of my friends, what would you do? What do you say to your child who is hurt because another kid won't play with him? And then I remembered this...
"I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strange, I am ungrateful to those teachers." Kahlil Gibran
So, I hope to be kind and inclusive. I strive to be more friendly and inviting. I will encourage my children to be kind and friendly. They will have plenty of opportunities to learn from the unkind.