they don’t stay babies for long

There is a little boy who lives up the street from us. Let’s call him Bobby.*

(*His name is not Bobby.)

He’s about 3 years old and Maggie has played in his driveway a few times. They play with sidewalk chalk. He shares his tricycle with her. He impresses her with his awesome scooter-riding skills. He’s a very nice boy.

He also has a lump on his bottom lip.

I honestly didn’t even notice it at first. Or rather, I noticed it, but I just thought it was a fat lip. Three year old boy = lots of injuries and boo-boos. But of course, now we’ve been here for over a month and it hasn’t healed. I’m guessing it’s something he was born with, but it doesn’t seem to bother him much. (And here is where I am THANKING MYSELF for not insensitively blurting out “Hey kid, what happened to your lip??? Didja fall off your scooter?”)

I barely gave it more than that brief moment of thought, until one day last week when I was getting Maggie dressed and she was making goofy faces at me, and she stuck out her bottom lip to the side and said “LOOK, I BOBBY!”


It nearly broke my heart. I was stunned that Maggie- just 2 and a half years old- noticed it. And not only did she NOTICE it, but she thought of it enough to mimic it days after we had last seen him.

I wasn’t sure how I should react. I didn’t want to draw a ton of attention to her actions, but I also wanted to let her know that it wasn’t nice to make fun of someone just because they were different than her. But my next thought was: MY KID IS ONLY TWO. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? I thought I had YEARS before I had to think about this stuff.

So I gently told her not to do that, that’s not nice. She then asked me ‘WHY?’ (her new favorite word, OMG YOU GUYS. IT HAS BEGUN.) So I tried to explain the best I could in two year old language that if he heard or saw her doing that, he would be sad. That it’s not nice to tease people and make fun of them.

It seemed to satisfy her for the time being. When I mentioned it to Dan, he said he forgot to tell me that she did the same thing the night before. And she did it again today.

So I ask you: how should we handle this? Like I said, we don’t want to make SUCH a huge deal out of it, because we worry she’s still a little bit too young to really grasp the whole Hurting Other People’s Feelings thing. But I also know that there have been numerous times when we thought for sure Maggie had no idea what we were talking about or wouldn’t understand something, and DUDE SHE TOTALLY GOT IT. So I feel like we should at least try, you know? But how do we do that without a) confusing her and b) freaking her out?

I just want her to stay A BABY, DAMMIT. I want her to be able to play with kids and not have to worry about this stuff. Because you know what? If she’s noticing things about other kids and picking up on them, how much longer do we have until another kid picks out something about HER and starts teasing HER about it?


I don’t think I’ll be able to take it.


  1. Heather

    September 29, 2009 10:48 pm

    I would just keep reminding her that it’s not nice to do that and that it would make him sad. It might take her a bit to take it in but they really do understand everything.

  2. C @ Kid Things

    September 29, 2009 11:20 pm

    I usually ask how, if someone was making fun of them, how would that make them feel. Usually, hopefully (heh), they say the right answer (which would be something along the line of “not good”) and we go off from there.
    .-= C @ Kid Things’s last blog post: Never Take a Girl (Like Me) to a Car Show =-.

  3. Sunshine

    September 30, 2009 8:19 am

    I’ve tried to explain to my kids to ‘be a good friend.’ Mostly because I wondered the same thing you are wondering – how can I not make a huge deal over this but still let them know that it’s important to not make fun or whatever. ‘Friend’ is something they both understood. So that’s what I tell them both – be a GOOD friend. And we talk about the characteristics of a good friend (when issues come up) and why it’s important to be that way (so we don’t hurt someone’s feelings, etc.) We also talk about how all of us are different, (colors, sizes, etc.) and it’s OK to notice & ask about someone with a wheelchair or a bump on their lip or whatever (because they do have to ask WHY about everything. heh.). It’s just not OK to yell the question as loud as we can while pointing at the person.

    Ok, holy long comment. Sorry. We’ve just been dealing with this a lot lately. Except in our case it’s been other kids hitting, punching, biting (!), my children. And now I can’t go to the park without my husband because I (almost) feel bad for yelling at the six year old (whose parents where NOWHERE around) for hitting my two year old.


    Parenting is hard.

    • Jen

      September 30, 2009 9:44 am

      oh I like the ‘friend’ idea, she definitely understands that now (everyone is her BEST! FRIEND! right now, ha) so that might help.

      And yeah. Parenting is hard. The sleepless nights and labor and all of that is EASY compared to this emotional/mental stuff. The other stuff is expected… but this stuff is just so darn unpredictable! And it also reminds me of how quickly she’s growing up :(

  4. LZ @ My Messy Paradise

    September 30, 2009 9:32 am

    Hmmm…Kind of a tough one. I’d probably go with the same thing I say when my daughter points out anything…”Everyone has a different face” or something to that effect. It’s really tough. If you knew his mom, and she told you what it was, it would be easier to explain with real words.
    .-= LZ @ My Messy Paradise’s last blog post: When Technology might not work for me =-.

  5. Burgh Baby

    September 30, 2009 9:46 am

    Given her age, she’s not making fun of him. She’s actually probably emulating him. It’s pretty much like when Alexis slaps on a ridiculous blond wig and calls herself Hannah Montana. Maybe just stick with the ol’ everybody is different and unique and wonderful bit?
    .-= Burgh Baby’s last blog post: A Few Things That Should Not Be =-.

    • Jen

      September 30, 2009 9:48 am

      I think you’re exactly right- it’s definitely not malicious, she’s just imitating because that’s what kids do at this age. Which is why I don’t want to be harsh about it, because she doesn’t mean for it to be… well, MEAN. But I also would DIE OF EMBARRASSMENT if she did it in front of him or his family, I would feel horrible. So we’re definitely going to keep things ‘light’ but make sure she understands it’s not nice.

      Why can’t they stay babies foreverrrrrr???

  6. Karen

    September 30, 2009 10:38 am

    Ya done good. As the parent of the “different” kid, that’s exactly how I wish all parents would handle it. I believe in honesty, not skirting around the issues, and making it simple.
    .-= Karen’s last blog post: I’m an Amateur, and Happy To Be One =-.

  7. Candace

    September 30, 2009 11:39 am

    I have no advise because we aren’t anywhere near that stage right now but all I can say is OMG this kind of stuff happens at 2???? WHY??!?!?! You know, there has not been a single day since Zoey has been born that I’ve been worried or nervous about taking care of her. I NEVER questioned my parenting ability and I knew I could handle it. But THAT kind of stuff right there scares the living crap out of me!!
    .-= Candace’s last blog post: The road to recovery is a long, winding one =-.

  8. 3carnations

    September 30, 2009 11:50 am

    So hard to explain at 2 and a half, but I would just tell her that we all have differences, and sometimes it can hurt people’s feelings if we point out those differences. Also, that being different is what makes us all special. :-)

  9. Amy

    September 30, 2009 12:09 pm

    At 2 she is doing that most likely because she likes him and wants to be like him. To her, the lip is just a unique characteristic of him, and nothing more. But of course, you know that.

    So what to do? Tell her that we all have special things about us. Sometimes, people don’t like the special things about them. Bobby might not like his special lip, and being a good friend means not pointing it out or saying anything about it. Because pointing it out is called teasing, and teasing hurts their friends feelings.

    Keep it short, keep it simple, keep it to the point.

    If she does do it in front of him or his family, apologize on her behalf, explain to them that she is only doing it because she likes Bobby so much and its what makes him unique to her, and that you have explained to her that she shouldn’t point out what others might not like about themselves because it hurts feelings, but shes 2 and 2 year olds learn the hard way. Don’t forget to remind her to apologize for hurting his feelings – if she doesn’t already do it on her own.

  10. Sarah Lena

    September 30, 2009 1:42 pm

    Oh, this broke my heart. BROKE MY HEART.

    I think you handled it right. When Jack was four or five, he saw a child with CP and could not.stop.staring at him. We had to have a very frank discussion about how all people are different, and all deserving of our respect. “Horton Hears a Who” is perfect for this.

    My little one has a foot deformity that requires him to wear a clunky brace and walk with a noticeable limp. In all honesty, bracing myself for this lesson is more exhausting than words can articulate.

  11. Melissa

    September 30, 2009 1:52 pm

    *sigh* It starts SO young. We haven’t run into this kind of situation yet with Oliver but it’s only a matter of time. I’m just grateful my parents raised me to be tolerant so I can raise a tolerant child of my own, because you know, I bet there are some parents who WOULD joke with their kids about this sort of thing. Kids watch us closely for OUR reactions to know how to react themselves – I guess that’s what they need, more than just the explanation in words – so I think you handled it really well. Thankfully kids also let things go pretty quickly and I bet she won’t even bring it up anymore after a while.

    So yeah. I’m not looking forward to the teenage years. By that time they know the difference between right and wrong, and they act like jerks anyway. The older Oliver gets, the more often I apologize to MY mom and wonder how she survived through this times four! lol
    .-= Melissa’s last blog post: what I’ve been doing instead of blogging =-.

  12. the ambitious mrs

    September 30, 2009 2:53 pm

    So tough! Sometimes when I’m explaining things to Lily that are difficult concepts to understand I will even say “I know this is hard to understand.” I know you know she isn’t doing this to be mean, she’s just being two!
    .-= the ambitious mrs’s last blog post: Hand to Mouth =-.

  13. bluzdude

    September 30, 2009 6:35 pm

    I agree w/ Burgh Baby.

    That little face can’t possibly have a malicious bone in her body.
    .-= bluzdude’s last blog post: Steelers Recap – Week 3 =-.

  14. Susan Helene Gottfried

    September 30, 2009 7:07 pm

    When this kind of thing happened with my kids, I’d shrug and say, “Everyone’s different, and different is good.” I’d leave it at that; it was all I needed to do.
    .-= Susan Helene Gottfried’s last blog post: Susan’s Promo Tales: Visiting and an award! =-.

  15. Danielle

    October 1, 2009 6:27 pm

    (I didn’t read the other comments, but….)

    I don’t think she was teasing or picking on him. Just making an observation. Probably the less attention you give it, the better.

    Observation, like “that’s a girl” or “that’s a boy” or “he has red hair” or “he has a big lip”.

    Grant imitated a teacher once when he was two. He pulled his pants up REALLY high, (like to his neck) (it was an older, larger teacher) and said “Look mom, I’m Mrs. xxx”. I just said “um hmm” and moved on. He never did it again.

    If she does it in front of the family, just acknowledge it, maybe ask the parents what it is, and then just say “Yeah, Maggie, Bobby has a hemangioma (oh whatever) on his lip”.

    Just wait until she talks about your nipples in the grocery line! Toddler mouth. It can be mortifying! :)
    .-= Danielle’s last blog post: Amusement Park Days =-.

    • Jen

      October 1, 2009 9:47 pm

      oh GEEZ. Nipples?? The worst Maggie has done so far is accuse me of picking my nose while we were in the freezer aisle at the grocery store. (I WASN’T PICKING MY NOSE! I SWEAR!) hehe

  16. samantha jo campen

    October 1, 2009 10:14 pm

    Oh I’d die. My heart, it would break. I don’t even want to THINK about this OMG. So I’ll just sit here, see how you handle it, and do that when the time comes.

    No pressure.

  17. red pen mama

    October 2, 2009 4:02 pm

    Yep, what every else has said. I tell Flora (especially — I hope Kate’s listening) that we don’t talk about the way people look. God made everyone different, which is good. It helps that Flora had “bumps” on her face for a couple of years (mulloscum contagiousum) so she was the object of curiosity for a bit. Which is heartbreaking in its own way, of course.

    If you feel comfortable, I would ask the neighbors what it is. Sometimes having a concrete term or explanation helps end the behavior.

    Good luck!!

    .-= red pen mama’s last blog post: Progress II =-.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *