It’s hard to not step in and stand up for your children especially when they are around their peers. It’s hard to see your child fight his own battles, not just physically, but also emotionally and not want to fix it. It’s hard to see him hurting and knowing that it won’t be the last time that he hurts and he WILL have to work through it.
Davey is a very social child. He talks to people in the store, at the bank, the zoo, doctor’s office, you name it. He sticks his right hand out and shakes hands, he is eager to get to know people. He’s also quite the affectionate child and loves to hug people, even if they are random strangers. We’ve had discussions about the whole stranger danger as well as trying to be aware of people’s personal spaces, and how it’s best to not invade those spaces until you’ve been invited. Unfortunately, not every child is wired like mine and they’re not eager to get to know Davey in his way.
I first noticed this right around the 6 month mark when he would crawl up to random babies at our local library, and try to hug them. Most would start crying, others would freeze, but most just seemed to try to crawl away. I don’t think we ever cuddled Davey more than the average child. I do know I liked (and still do) to kiss him a lot. I know the day will come when he won’t let me do that, so I have to get in those hugs and kisses now while he still enjoys them.
When he would tell people bye, he would hug them, as a matter of fact he still does that. When he would see his friends, the first thing he would do was hug them, and yes he still does that, but as he’s getting older, as are his peers, it’s becoming more and more uncomfortable for him, me, and everyone else for him to do this.
A few summers ago, he made me quite the proud mama (this wasn’t the first or only time, let me note). During an outdoor concert, he took an affection to a little girl a couple of years older than him, who was clearly deaf. Her father was protective her, but stood back on the sidelines, much like me and let the two of them interact. Davey knew something was different about the little girl, but he didn’t care. He accepted her and embraced her, even after coming to me and asking what was wrong with her. When I told him she couldn’t hear anything, he just smiled then went back out to her and hugged her, then continued along with his dancing until time to go.
That same summer we went to a birthday party for a friend of ours child, and by “ours” I mean mine and my husband’s. Davey hadn’t had much interaction with this child in the past and this child had their own set of friends already, all of whom were alien to Davey, and already seemed to have their own little clique at 2 years of age. I watched in pain as he tried to integrate himself into their group, but they would wander off from him, at times turning their back, or closing him off from the group. Yes! Two year olds were doing this. It didn’t seem to bother him, he just started playing on his own. Me? I went home and cried about it. I suppose he gets his tender heart from me.
Playing sports is difficult for him because of his soft hearted demeanor with people, soccer being extremely difficult. He doesn’t want to steal the ball from someone because, “mommy, you’ve told me to share and not to take,” but then he would walk off of the field upset at his inability to score a goal. Even when we told him it was ok to steal the ball in soccer, his heart just wouldn’t let him do it, and when he was responsible for a child falling or getting hurt, he would give up the ball and take care of that child.
A couple of weeks ago, during soccer camp, we had an incident that had my blood boiling. Some little boy came up to me and said that Davey had hit him. Davey swore he didn’t, that the little boy had shoved him. I believed my child because I’ve become quite adept at knowing when he’s lying. That same little boy, I noticed, was shoving a lot of other kids later. The next morning that little boy took a ball from another kid and when Davey came to the child’s aide, the “shover” pushed him away and said, “no one likes you over here.” My child? He just shrugged his shoulders and walked back over to me. Maybe I was more hurt than he was.
It’s a fact of life, that my child will get his feelings hurt in some form or fashion, and I can’t always be there to protect him. I know that there are mean kids, bullies, and arrogant snots, and a part of me wants to encourage some wit on his part, but instead I take the high road and do my best to protect and encourage his tender heart by telling him, “if no one wants a hug or they say nasty things to you, just walk away, baby. You continue to give that love.”
Some people consider this a detriment, to be soft hearted. They like to tell me that I’m setting him up to constantly be hurt, to be pushed around, but when he sees a baby crying and goes up to them, breaking into his own personal rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, I have a hard time trying to stifle that heart. I have a hard time encouraging him to have more of a stiff upper lip.