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.