Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Kindness and Meanness of Strangers

Drinking the Leaking Balloon

Some older kids shared a water balloon with Reuben while we were at the park. He protected that water balloon, having me hold it when he was going to do something that threatened it. It sprung a leak on the way home from the park, I happened to be holding it, and I'm not sure how the pin hole developed. I quickly passed it to Reuben so he could enjoy the spray. Reuben let it spray into his mouth because "we filled it up at the drinking fountain, and the water is yummy." The steady stream stopped, and Reuben asked me to help him. So, I applied pressure... apparently more than I thought. It burst all over his chest, and my arm.

He looked at me, and said, "Oh, no."

It was nice to have a discussion about why balloons pop.

The last few days the discussion on the way home from the park has been about "why some guys are mean."

On Thursday Reuben was the target for two children with water guns (long pokey tubes that shot water to be more specific.) When Reuben wanted a turn to spray them he tried to pull the tube away from one of the kids, who promptly cried. Reuben couldn't figure out why it was okay for them to chase him around and spray but never give him a turn. I tried to explain about ownership, and always asking clearly before trying to take something. His response was "but they just kept spraying me and I said, 'Stop!' and ran away, but they just kept doing it." I've taught this to Reuben to escape hitting children, it just doesn't work with kids that are bigger than him with water shooters.

A small child punched Reuben in the face on the bus on Saturday. Reuben was sitting on Justin's lap behind the kid, who stood on the seat and punched. Reuben was shocked, and could not comprehend that sometimes kids punch even if you haven't stolen their toy. The kid only said two words for the rest of the time, "Woah" and "S@#%." "Why did that boy punch me?" I tried to explain that some people don't follow the same rules. Or, some people have mean things happen to them so they do mean things to the people that are around them.

At the park yesterday three older boys followed Reuben around dumping sand on his head. From what I saw the motivating factor was that Reuben went down the slide that they were build a sand pile on. Reuben eventually escaped, didn't shed a tear, or respond in any way other than running. Earlier that day Reuben had thrown sand at a kid (who pushed him off of ladder). The kid, full of rage, yelled at him "WHERE IS YOUR MOM!!!" Reuben confusedly pointed to me, the kid promplty started crying and walked over to me. "He threw sand at me." So I asked Reuben, "Why did you throw sand at him?" Knowing the answer, which was "Because he pushed me." "You shouldn't have thrown sand at him, even if he pushed you." The kid was pretty disappointed that that was the extent of my parenting. As I ruffled Reuben's hair on the way home to try to get some sand out, he told me he was sorry he threw sand at that kid, but why did those big boys not stop putting sand on my head? I tried to explain that some kids think its okay to do mean things as long as it doesn't make the other person cry. "Should I cry?" "Only if you need to, otherwise its just annoying." I said.

Along with the ability to balance on a train, walk long distances, know the difference between mice and rats, recognize world famous buildings and landmarks, my kid will take from his New York experience an accute understanding that sometimes guys are just mean, or meaner than makes sense. But, he'll also know that there are plenty of friendly people who are willing to share with a complete stranger.

Its nice to have a walk home from the park conversation that was purely motivated by the kindness of strangers (sharing a water balloon), and accidents. If he were older I would have talked about how the pressure on the balloon is like one the reasons guys are mean, sometimes they have too much pressure and they pop and splash all over who ever happens to be standing there... but he's not there yet, and I didn't want to bring it up again.


emilysuze said...

Parenting is so scary but it sounds like you're doing a wonderful job of traversing the minefield.

Kimberlee said...

We're still at the stage of "please share toys," and no where near the stage of having to explain why, or why other kids don't, and so on. You do such a great job, though, it sounds like. I keep picking up some great pointers! :)

Sandy M. said...

You sound like such a great Mum Brecken. I think that the 'extent' of your parenting is just about exactly right. Isn't being a mother wonderful? Who else can have so much good influence upon another each day :)

Klous Family said...

You are such a good mom!! Thank you for this post. I'm sorry that there are such mean kids. It's something that even I don't understand. How can someone so small be so mean?? But they are and its sad. You are doing a fantastic job as a Mom!! :)

Morgan said...

what a good mom you are! i am amazed at reuben's reasoning and understanding skills. i've never really talked to that extent about those things with asher. maybe i should... i think i always underestimate his reasoning abilities. but i should try.

Heidi said...

That is a wonderful way to explore those situations with kids, way to be smart about it! And is cute to see Reuben think through the details. Its so nice to read your thoughtful reflections. Thanks for sharing and identifying such grand learning opportunities. :)

charrette said...

There's a lot to be learned in such a high concentration of people.

Tammy Lorna said...

Your mothering sets a lovely example for me brecken :) Reuben is so lucky to have you!

xo Tammy