It really is the little things that cause upset. A reaction to an unfamiliar situation, a recollection of previous wrong, all can send one it a spiral of guilt and swallowed tears. I’m talking about me here, not The Boy.
The Boy, as has been previously noted, can be a little socially tone deaf. If he makes a faux pas, chances are he is unaware, so if someone is bothered by what he said or did, he is not quite sure why. Take for example a recent instance. During a weekly co-op meeting, there was an episode of minor vandalism. I say minor because it was done on paper (other children’s artwork) and really it was a case of kids being stupid. And let’s be honest, even the smartest kid does dumb stuff.
When we, the parental units, asked who did what, there was in general a unified wall of defiance…broken only by the boy.
“Did you see who drew on the artwork?”
“Who was it?
“I don’t know,”
“Was it [Friend A] and [Friend B]?”
[Friend A] “No I didn’t!”
The boy looks confused, “Yes you did,”
[Friend B] “Tattle tale”
I may have taken some liberties with the precise conversation, but you get the drift
As we left, The Boy gave a cheery wave and was puzzled with the responses of turned backs and scowls. Hadn’t he done right? An adult whom he knew and liked had asked him a direct question. He answered it. Grown-ups were giving him kudos for his honesty. Why would the other kids lie? He really did not get it. A few days later he even asked me, “Dad, why were my friends mad at me?”
But the real trauma came of this father’s breast. Oh, those days on the school yard! To be considered a rat, a narc, was to be someone who couldn’t be trusted and therefore not a friend! I fretted, I lost sleep. He’d been doing so well, making new friends! Was this going to cause him to be cast out, spurned by his peers? I fought back tears for my clueless little boy.
Here’s the thing, though. While I remember the rules of the playground, I forget that kids are in general, more forgiving than adults. Other than each of us having a conversation with our offspring about respecting property and telling your friends when something is a bad idea, there was no further social fall out. Four days later, one of the friends came over to play, and there was nothing! A week later, there was an overnight with the other friend, and great frustration on the part of The Boy when it came time to leave!
I had put all of my anxiety into the situation, but the fact is, stupid kids are so much smarter and more forgiving than their worry-wart parents. They know that amongst their peers, sometimes, things just don’t matter.