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Broken Mama Heart

Seven weeks ago, Joshua broke his arm. His last visit to the orthopedist was this afternoon, and like we’ve done after all three visits, we went to Target for a special patient prize.

A “medium” sized prize.

He was full of energy and excitement, but he stayed patient with me as I wheeled through the Halloween clearance aisles to see if there was anything worth having. There wasn’t. I gave him the all-clear and away we went to the toy department.

Visiting the toys at Target might be one of Joshua’s favorite things. I say visiting because rarely do they come home with us. Maybe an Angry Birds mini-figure, but real, big toys? That’s not a common occurrence. But today he got to choose one.

He wandered up and down the aisles, eyeing the Thomas trains, showing me the Spider-man figures, pointing out the My Little Ponies. He loves to look at everything and usually more than once.

We turned down the aisle with Legos and he pointed out all of the characters he knows from Star Wars (thanks to Angry Birds). We talked about the Yoda mini-figure fighting the Count Dooku mini-figure in the display. He pointed out the Rancor pit and the “Gamorning” Guard. And then he skipped off around the corner while I let Emma look at a set of Jake Legos.

Then I heard it. Loudly. The voice of another little kid, older than Joshua. Old enough to know better.

You’re annoying.

I quickly put down the toy Emma and I had been looking at and made my way to the end of the aisle just as the other boy’s mother called him away with a scolding tone and he scampered toward her.

I turned the corner.

There was my little boy. My baby. Trying not to cry in the middle of the toy department.

His eyes were red and his shoulders were raised and he looked a little confused. Shocked. He doesn’t even know what annoying means.

He stammered “that boy…he…he hurt my feelings.” And then I had my arm around him, pulling his tiny body into mine. His little heart was beating so quickly. A lump formed in my throat.

I didn’t have to see the scene to know what might have happened. Joshua, lover of all things Angry Birds, had probably seen the little boy looking at the building sets and in his four-year-old fervor, started naming all the characters in the packages. The other boy probably didn’t care, but Joshua didn’t know that. How could he? In his world, everyone loves Angry Birds. How could they not?

But maybe he didn’t say anything at all. Maybe that kid was just mean.

“Why, Mama? Why did he say I am annoying?”

My chin was on his shoulder, so I said the only things I could think to say. “I don’t know, Joshua. Sometimes people aren’t very nice. Was that a nice thing that he did?”

“No, Mama. It hurt my feelings. I don’t like it. I need to go tell him!”

I didn’t let Joshua confront the little boy, but maybe I should have. I probably should have let him.

I didn’t because I didn’t want to risk confronting the mother. I didn’t want to have to say that it should’ve been on her to send her son back to mine to issue an apology for being mean to him. I didn’t want her to see my hurt over the fact that now my son knows the world is a little less nice because of hers.

Joshua picked out his prize for being a special patient–an Angry Birds set with Boba Fett, his current favorite pig–and we made our way to the front of the store while he chattered away about his new toy.

We didn’t see the little boy again.

I was glad.


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Saturday 2nd of November 2013

I am so sorry that both of you had to experience that. It's a tough lesson to learn that not everyone is nice in this world.

Jill @Babyrabies

Saturday 2nd of November 2013

Ugh. Man, kids. They can be so mean. I'm really sorry Joshua had that experience, and I hope that mom took the opportunity to at least have a serious conversation with her son about choosing our words and being kind.

Jennifer @ Also Known As...the Wife

Saturday 2nd of November 2013

Ugh, I read this and almost cried. I really hope this boy's mother gave him an earful. I'd like to hope she's was too embarrassed to think clearly and that's why she didn't send him back to apologize. I understand kids aren't always going to be nice but it was definitely a teachable moment.

You did the right thing by not sending Joshua to tell the little boy how his feelings were hurt...especially if that mother wasn't just embarrassed.


Saturday 2nd of November 2013

Every time something like this happens, I try to remind myself that it isn't our job to protect our kids from ever getting hurt, just to love and support them and teach them the skills for resilience that they will need. I say that and at the same time this makes me want to punch kittens because I hate hate hate the idea of our kids' spirits and trust in the world being broken. I don't want them to need resilience. I want them to look at the world with those big eyes that truly believe that everyone is good and kind. Gah.

The Many Thoughts of a Reader

Friday 1st of November 2013

aww poor Joshua. I am so proud of him for wanting to tell him that he hurt his feelings. As a preschool teacher, I spend all day trying to get the kids to express their feelings directly to the meaniepants. Good for Joshua. (((())) for you both!

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