After all, I have two friends who are about to put their 3 year old boys in preschool in the coming weeks, and both have strongly encouraged me to get Scotty "started early." Okay, I handle this. The kid clearly likes other children - he became insanely mobile during Rowan's visit, and really enjoys our play dates with other kids. I signed him up for swim lessons, music lessons, and joined this gym. I'm crossing my 't's', dotting my 'i's'...if only we could figure out this most recent sleep-strike (Day 8 and both sides are showing no sign of compromise), I'd be golden.
Except there is a very good chance we're going to get kicked out of the gym.
And it's not Scotty who is the behavioral problem...it's me.
See, the thing is, I don't have much experience with other children. Scratch that - I do, but they have either been 1.) emotionally disturbed or 2.) sitting my waiting room. Meaning, I call the shots. Too loud? I'll let you know. Too boisterous? I'm going to talk to your mom. Too defiant? I'm going to have to ask you to leave. I've never really, as an adult, related to kids and their parents as...another parent. With a kid.
It's like when Superman lost his powers.
I don't get to fall back on the 'it's my name on the door; follow my rules' approach of the past. I actually have to be...nice. And patient. I don't rule the roost anymore. And I also possess that horrible parenting attitude that I desperately need to get rid of of "It's not my kid; it's yours that is the problem" that is also contributing such issues.
Enter situation #1. It's our first day, and Scotty and I are playing at the train depot table. Quietly. Enjoying ourselves. A little girl about five comes up to me and asks, "Excuse me...is that your son?" pointing to Scotty.
Me: Yes, he is.
Little Girl (LG): Can I ask you a question?
Me: (super curious): Sure. What's up?
LG: (making a motion with her hands at her face): What's wrong with his...cheeks?
Me: (totally taken aback): What?
LG: (more insistent): You know...his cheeks. They are so big.
Me: (deep breath but I'm thinking "You're going to talk about my kids' physical appearance when you have that horrible frizzy hair? You're going to hate that hair in about 7 years and be miserable): They are chubby. He has chubby cheeks. I bet you did, too, when you were a baby.
LG: (very sure of herself): No. No I didn't. My cheeks never looked like that.
Me (looking around for her mother): Um...yeah, I bet you did. Okay, we're done here now. Thanks for playing with us. Bye-bye! (under my breath: you nasty little kid. Good luck surviving adolescence. Especially with that hair.)
This lovely encounter was then followed up on Friday when we were playing safely in the **designated for children THREE and under** area. I wasn't about to venture out towards the kids who were verbal and curious, lest they ask me more mean-spirited questions about my little baby.
Scotty and I were working on the wooden board when a kid clearly NOT three and under entered the area. He looked like Trouble was his middle name. He immediately jumped into the block pit and began pitching the blocks across the room. No one else even batted an eye as I looked around trying to drum up parental support so we could oust this kid from our area.
When a block came flying dangerously close to Scotty's head, I lost it. I walked over to the little boy and said in my best mean therapist voice, "Please don't the blocks. There are just little kids here." He looked at me, puffed out his chest and said sarcastically, "Really?" I'm sure my eyes got wide and I took a step back. Really? This little six-year old punk just questioned MY authority? When he is clearly breaking the rules and putting MY kid in at risk?
I leaned in close to his face and said in the quietest, scariest tone I could drum up, "Really. Are you three? I don't think so. Stop throwing the blocks. Get out. Now." He gave me a dirty look and left, but I was seriously shaking. Because of a six-year old! With spiky hair! And a serious attitude problem.
Looking back, I guess I'm lucky that his parent didn't see me because who knows what they would have thought. But it stands to reason that the whole 'my kid is right, your kid (or you) is wrong' attitude is not a good one. Instead of all of the parents watching and supervising their kids appropriately, I'm left having to protect my son from a snotty, much older boy and in our litigious society, putting myself at risk in the process.
Despite such drama, Scotty has been to his gym twice and has loved it. Me, not so much. But maybe with a little more time and a little more patience, I'll come around too. Just don't take my blocks.