September 29, 2009
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.