I take the boys to Kid's Club a few times a week at my gym while I work out. It is a break for all of us -- I get pilates and they get play time. Holden's not a super fan of it. He gets overwhelmed by the number of children and the overall noise level. But I've learned to sit him down at a quiet table with a yummy snack of Yogo's or Veggie Booty and he's happy enough for an hour or so. Often he's still sitting in the same spot when I return after my class. Sometimes he's ventured out to the play kitchen or the trains. On some occasions a staff member has had to come and get me because he is inconsolable. So it goes.
Jackson on the other hand has always loved going to Kid's Club. He's a social butterfly, much like his mama. He likes being around other kids, playing, having fun. But in the past couple of weeks he's been less than enthusiastic about going. When I've questioned him about it he told me there is a kid who calls him a "baby" at the club. Small words, I know. But it still bums me out that he's getting his feelings hurt for no reason at all. I've asked him if the boy calls other children names and he replied no, just him. It seems to happen daily, and yesterday escalated to the other boy spitting at him. Um, gross and totally un-cool. I've told Jackson to tell the teacher if it happens again. But honestly, it is such a come-and-go type of place the teachers are just trying to keep general order for the hour or so each kid is there.
My next suggestion to him was to tell the boy all the ways in which he is NOT a baby.
- I am 4 years old, that is a big boy age!
- I am potty trained!
- I make my own bed and brush my teeth by myself!
- I can put my own shoes on by myself.
- I can buckle myself into my booster seat in the car.
- I drink from a big boy cup.
- I sleep in a big boy bed.
But I am not sure that is even working. As a last resort I've told him to tell bully-boy that he doesn't play with kids who are mean and to walk away. That seems to be the best option for him. I don't want to get overly involved because Jackson is a big boy. He can handle himself in social situations. He's always been a pretty independent child, not wanting me to get too involved in his biz. But we've never faced this before. Now don't get me wrong, Jack is not a complete innocent. By no means. This is the child who spent a good portion of his third year of life in time out for one infraction or another. He has his own behaviors to work out. But I've never heard him call someone names before. He's generally a sweet kid who cares about his friends. I know the saying - "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!" But honestly, I don't think that is always true. I sometimes think words are more hurtful than the sticks and stones. And I don't want my baby to be hurt -- in any way. It is a mama's prerogative. But I also want him to learn to stick up for himself and use his words appropriately.
So here I sit. Unsure of my next move. He has the power of his own words to use. He has his own two legs to be able to walk away from bully-boy. I just have to let him take the steps necessary. I'm hoping he can do it, all on his own. But at the end of the day, I'm his mama. And I will do what it takes to protect my boys. I think this is as much my lesson to learn as it is his.