Photo: Minor enjoying his first ever Italian Ice at Wingaersheek Beach. We got up on Saturday and decided to take a beach day and try a new beach. It was… not quite what we were hoping for. Yes, the water was nice and tame for the kids, and low tide was amazing, with the boys able to run way out before reaching the shallow waters… but it was incredibly crowded. This picture was taken after it had cleared out a little bit. At it’s peak, it was all to wall humanity. There was also radio playing and too-loud folk and just… you know… humanity. More humanity than beach. I’m a spoiled snot, I know. There is nothing to compare to the Outer Banks. But we’ll keep looking.
Major stood on top of the slide at the playground today and told a little girl that she couldn’t do something.
“I’m pretty sure that you can’t climb up that, girl!” He shouted from the top of the slide like some sort of triumphant king of the castle.
I was more surprised than I was anything else. His best friend is a very athletic girl and I’m no shrinking violet myself, so where in the world could he have gotten an idea like that? Is it really just a natural inclination of boys to decide that girls are different and thus weak or something? He has been noticing that girls and boys are different lately. Must talk of “mommy stuff” and “daddy stuff” and “boy shows” and “boy stuff to do” versus “girl toys” and “girl shows” and… hmmm…
Let’s say that it wasn’t about her gender (“You are a girl and therefore you can’t do it.”) and more about his assessment about her as an individual (“I have judged you and found you wanting”), it was still not a very nice thing to say! And, again, where in the world would he get the inclination that saying such a thing is ok!? I remind myself, dipping back into my graduate readings and my teacher training, that all of this is natural. That he’s testing the boundaries, trying to figure out who he is in the big wide world… but the irrational Mama in me was more than a little bit embarrassed. The Feminist in me was also a bit peeved.
So, chalking up yet another reason why I hate the playground, I had to sit my child down and talk to him about how it isn’t nice to tell little girls that they can’t do things. We also had to chat about being encouraging instead of discouraging (“Baby, be a helper, not a hurter!”).
Here is the good news: he listened well, said he understood. Especially the part about being a helper.
Me: “If you don’t think she’s going to make it up the ladder, you should say, ‘you can do it! You can get up the ladder!’ That’s a nice thing to do! That’s being a helper!”
Major: “That’s a nice thing to say. I can say nice things to help!”
I love age Four. It feels like the emotional center of his brain is fully unlocked and all of the rational stuff I’ve been waiting for is finally starting to click in.
Major has really been testing his social prowess of late. Lots of waving, lots of walking up to other children and telling them his name. It’s been sweet to see, especially because we were worried that he’d be a fairly shy sort of kid (my husband is a very shy dude, and I’m not always inclined to reach out). Then again, with that branching out comes the inevitable brush-ups with the rules of social graces and etiquette. I think that is the hardest part for me as a parent: when he fails in a social interaction, I feel for him. I wonder how I could have taught him better so that he could have been successful. Then again, he has to learn how to navigate human interaction on his own. I can only do so much…
Anyway, that was a moment for some direct intervention. I don’t want him running around telling kids they can’t do stuff just because that’s what he’s thinking at the moment. For goodness sake…
I did remind Major, though, that the most important thing that he can be while he’s playing with other children is kind. That’s a word that we’ve been working on as a family, because kindness is really a bundle of a whole bunch of stuff: patience, empathy and thoughtfulness. Patience, above all, which doesn’t seem to be a virtue that any of us have right now. But all four of us, in our own ways, are working on it.
Of course, this is difficult when it’s the first week of August and you’re staring down a whole month before the start of school again. Oh Lordy, Dear Reader, we are runnin’ out of ideas! What am I going to do with these here children!? You know what I can’t do? Take ’em to the park!
Just kidding… half kidding…
Seriously though, I’m gleefully scanning my “promotions” folder in my email for Stride Rite and Old Navy sales right now. Let’s get with it! New shoes! New shirts! Same backpacks from last year! Get their little selves back into class so that Mama can get back on schedule!
One. Month. (and a couple of days)
(and a couple of days)
I can do this. We can do this…
It’s another week of heat, another week of too much to do, another week of writing and juggling. I have no choice but to be productive, Dear Reader. What about you? Let’s make it a good week together!
Onward! See you Wednesday!