You know how you think your child is just that little bit gifted? You secretly think yeah, my kid is just so much better than other kids. Such advanced social intelligence, such unparalleled powers of imagination, such incredible vocabulary….just perfect he is. Yeah. I must be rocking it as a parent. Ahh the warm glow of parental smugness.
Until you go to pick them up at daycare one day and the day care teacher says, I need to talk to you about something he did today. Oh. My child the school yard bully. My child, that one, the one who just told this other little boy that…wait for it…he was going to poke him in the eye with a nail. And burn the world down. Okaaaay. Now I’m that parent. Where would he have gotten such ideas from? How does a 4 year old even think of such things? Subtext: the parents.
I spent the whole day feeling terrible. And confounded. I know that he has seen nothing above a G rating in his life. Ever. I know that we do not engage in that sort of talk at home. He does not do gaming of any kind (although I do strongly suspect our babysitter of introducing Fruit Ninja, surely a very mild and very rare pleasure). He has no access to the internet or TV without a parent present. Damn it, I thought we were doing well!
I called a meeting with the day care teacher. I needed to know what context this happened in. Was it during an imaginative but perhaps slightly inappropriate game? Or was he actually threatening someone? Was there intention to hurt here? Is this an ongoing thing? I know that most children’s brains will not develop the parts they need to have empathy and cause and effect thinking until later in life (around 5-7 years old usually), so I know it is reasonable to think that he would not have thought of the consequences, emotional or otherwise of his actions. But on some level I know he knows right and wrong, he does know kind and gentle because it has been our family language for a long time.
His teacher, thankfully, had some wonderful things to say about my boy. Yes he does have an incredible, runaway imagination and I think, in this case, it has gotten the better of him. Combined with the fact that he is one of the oldest and physically biggest, we have a little bit of an alpha male situation. It’s kind of what I thought might have happened, but I didn’t want to be blind. This combination he has of confidence, imagination and leadership qualities can be a double edged sword. He could learn to be a compassionate leader or a selfish one. I will never accept bullying or unkind behaviour of any kind from my boys, but I will always, always be the one who loves them no matter what they’ve done. My job is to be their unwavering, life long, number one fan, but with my eyes wide open.