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.
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.