We went to a new park today and Primo went running around with these older boys, 6-8 years old, while I made sure Bubba didn't fall off the jungle gym. It seemed like he was following, but having a good time. The older boys didn't really seem to care too much for him being there, but they were playing with him. Digging rocks up out of the dirt, sword fighting with sticks, etc. Then as it was time to leave, I saw him picking up acorns and tossing them at the bigger kids. I yelled for him to stop and he didn't so I went over and told him it was time to leave. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. "I'll stop throwing things, I'll stop! I'll stop!" "No," I calmly replied, "It's time to go anyway. We have to go to the store on the way home." He threw himself on the back seat of the minivan as I closed the door. The kids were yelling, "Bye bad guy! bye bad guy!" "But No, Mommy!!!! They were throwing acorns and stuff at me and I had to get them back! I had to get them back! They were being mean to me, Mommy! I had to get them back!"
I have the most awful, sick feeling in my stomach. This is the worst way to feel: The other kids don't want to play with your kid. it makes you remember all at once every time you got picked last for a game, never got picked for a game, got made fun of, and had someone say something mean about you. And you know it's just how kids are, that he'll forget about it by the time he goes to school on Monday and gets to hang out with his friends at school, but you feel sick and angry inside. You want to yell at those boys' parents, you go over every thing you saw that day in your head: "Was it by accident that that boy hit him with a stick? Were they making fun of him? Why didn't one of them be nice to him? Why wouldn't they share their toy with him? Why didn't one of them ask his name? Why did he have to be the bad guy in all their games? Why didn't I see it and introduce him to some new kids?"
I reminded him of what Jesus said about turning the other cheek. We prayed for those boys and for Primo, asking the intercession of St. Dominic Savio, I asked him to remember how this feels so that if he ever sees kids being mean to someone else, he'll be nice to them. I also explained that sometimes big boys just don't like playing with smaller boys and somtimes they're just mean, and that it would probably be best to play with kids his own age. While we were making dinner, he told me about his plan. "Next time we go to the park, I'll teach them to fold dollars into rings, like Charlie (the retired fireman around the corner) does." Never mind that he doesn't know how to himself. If he can show them a cool trick, then they'll like him. I just smiled and nodded.
It's not going to be the last time some boys make fun of him, or just don't want to play with him, it's just the first. When I think about that this feeling must be similar to, yet a fraction of, the way Our Blessed Mother felt while watching Our Lord's Passion, it feels better knowing she knows what I'm feeling and so does He. I also feel like a time of innocence is over. He's figured out that kids can be really mean sometimes. I could throw up.