Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Out of the mouth of Nate

Normally, I find myself laughing at much of what comes out of Nate's mouth. He's 3. He's funny, smart and amazingly clever for his age. This cleverness, however, has its down side too. He is so fresh sometimes. He will talk back and make some of the most bratty faces I have ever seen. Ever. When he has one of these moments, I think to myself, "I have that kid." You know, the one you see in public and think their parents must never discipline them. The fact is I do discipline, maybe a bit too much. It seems my 3yo spends more time sitting in timeout some days than he does standing! When he says something timeout worthy, I have no problem parking him there, but what do you do when they do something you don't expect?

Both of my kids are at a home day care. She takes care of her own 3 kids and mine. She takes them to the park, to the zoo, and over to her mother's to go swimming. (Brave, isn't she?!) Sadly, she spends more time with my kids than I do. On the flip side, she has to deal with things that have never happened when the kids are at home with me. Nate taking his diaper off after nap and getting poop everywhere, twice, never happened to me! I can't say that I mind not having to deal with some of these things, but what happened at the zoo yesterday really got to me.

The kids were all doing well, walking along and behaving, when they neared a man who had a facial deformity. The man smiled at the kids and kept on his way. Apparently Nate pointed at him and said, "His face is all red. Ha! Ha!".  When she relayed the story to me I could see her reliving the embarrassment of the moment. I wonder if she could tell how embarrassed I was. My child, my 3 year old boy, taunted a grown man. I wanted to die, to crawl under a rock. I could just imagine how she felt as she stood there taking in the man's reaction to the cruelty of this small child.

She didn't know what to do in that moment, what to say to him or to Nate. She didn't want to call attention to it for fear that the other 3 kids might say something. She dragged the kids away as fast as she could and had a chat with Nate. When I arrived to pick him up and had to hear this story I was heart broken. Bullying is a topic near and dear to me and I will NOT raise a bully. I tried to talk to him. I let him know that it is never ok to point and laugh at anyone. I asked him how he would feel if I pointed at him, called him a bad name and laughed. He started crying. I don't know if he really even gets what he did, but I felt the need to reiterate that it was not ok. What else can I say to him? What can I do at his age to make him understand? I'm at a loss. A sad, disappointed loss.


  1. Wow this is a tough one. I think now that you have spoken to him about it once and it has been dealt with don't talk about this specific issue again. Sometimes with kids the more attention you bring to behavior (whether negative or positive) it can actually reinforce that behavior.

    Maybe instead go to the library and find some kids books about acceptance and how everyone is different. Talk about it from that point, but not specifically this incident.

    On a completely different the new look!!

  2. Oh, Kam I am so sorry that happened. What a difficult situation to deal with and learn from for you both, i suppose. I think that Liz's idea of getting books from the library is really good though. He is a very smart boy and can easily learn positive behavior to reference in the future, if a similar situation should happen again. I am sure after reading/looking at books (does he read already?) he will think twice about making fun of someone ever again.

    Did you decide on whether or not you would put him in pre-school/day care? I know that was a topic a few weeks ago. If he is anything like his uncle B then i know a more structured environment could help a lot!!

  3. This is definitely a hard one. I think addressing it was key because no matter how small children are they understand. Maybe reinforce it when he's in a new social situation.

    I'm sure you aren't the first or last mom that will face this're handling at the moment it happened and I'm sure he's learned from it.


  4. Ugh! Luca will laugh at things when you tell her they are sad, etc. It's her defense mechanism I think.
    I don't know if you follow this blog but this post is a beautiful story about her son going to school and about half way through she talks about how he somehow sees the beauty in things others find ugly. I don't know how or if this will help you but who knows.

  5. That is a hard one.

    There are days where I don't think my 3 year old is capable of grasping the true meaning of emotions nor the consequences of her actions. But, then then there are days where it is so clear that she gets it, that I'm blown away. Madaline will smirk when I catch her doing something naughty. But, I get the pout lip and waterworks when I simply remind her to mind her manners at the dinner table.

    I really like Liz's suggestion about the books and not giving it too much for attention, for fear of reinforcing a behavior you don't want. And, really, the more I think about this, the more I really don't think Nate's reaction was one of malice, but perhaps more of a normal toddler reaction to seeing something that he had never seen before. It's embarrassing as a parent since it is not the reaction you were hoping for and certainly not in line with the way you are raising him. But, I don't think but I don't think that there is much more you can say or do right now, unless it happens again - which I highly doubt it will.

  6. I found your blog through someone else's and appreciate your honesty.

    I have 3 children.My 18 year old has moderate to severe cerebral palsy and moderate mental retardation due to difficulties during his delivery. I feel very blessed that my daughters have grown up around my son and other children with disabilities, so it has always been a "normal" thing in their lives.

    Parents of young children in our church ask me the best ways to explain my sons disabilities when their children grow old enough to notice the differences. I always tell them to let their child ask my son questions. Children have a natural curiosity that so many parents try and squelch when it comes to people with disabilities. I understand parents don't want their children to seem rude and all, but I'd rather parents encourage their children to ask, rather than pull them away and allow them to grow up thinking there is something wrong with people who are different. That's how fear and prejudice are started.

    I know that's not what happened here. I'm just saying, innocent questions are a wonderful thing when taught how to do respectfully.

    My pastors grandson, who just turned 4, asked my son just last week why his legs don't work right (my son uses a walker). My son looked at him and said, "God made my legs work different." That was all this 4 year old ask his question, get an answer and he moved on to something else. It was very sweet.

    When my son was in a special group therapy program when he was 3 a mom brought her daughter in the group who did not have disabilities. When I inquired as to why, she simply said that she did not want her daughter growing up afraid of individuals who were different. She wanted her to fall in love with their differences at a young age. Not everyone has that kind of time, but what a wise woman. :)

    You did the right thing in talking to your son and putting it on him by asking him how he would feel. Don't beat yourself up over this or feel like you somehow failed. Just allow him to see people with various disabilities (via books, online, in person) and help him understand their bodies may look different, but they have feelings like everyone else. He will learn.


  7. These are the real experiences for sure. I have a 3 year old too and this sounds right on schedule for a situation like this. They have the ability to speak and express themselves but they are filled with brutal innocence. I think you handled the situation in the best possible way. Best of luck and hugs! You are a wonderful example and he's learning.

  8. Oh! That is so hard. I can't imagine how i would have reacted. Although i am pretty sure i would have done exactly as you did. It is too bad the sitter didn't make more of an issue at that moment though. Im afraid it will happen again before you can properly handle it :(

  9. Hey Kam,

    I so appreciate Lanelle's comment. I think it is good to remember that children are naturally curious about things that are new to them and that sometimes their initial reactions to things are more impulsive than opinionated. Nate has a sweet, kind heart, he would never knowingly hurt someone's feelings, of course. Now that you have reminded him that their was, indeed, a real person behind the "red face". a person with real feelings, I'm sure he will think twice before reacting impulsively. But do take this as an opportunity to teach Natey more about the things that make us different and the same too. It's a good reminder for all of us.

    Love you. And him.



What you talkin' bout Willis??