This morning we went to meet a Moms group I recently joined at a public playground. This is only the second time I have joined them for an event and I was the only one there! I arrived at 10:30 (we were supposed to meet at a coffee shop at 10, then walk to the playground at 10:30) and just walked to the playground. No one I recognized was there. I've only met 2 other members. I was annoyed but had no way to get in touch with the contact person. I finally decided to walk back to the car to get my hat as it was becoming more sunny and to look on the street and in the parking area for the other members. I also called my dad, who logged in to the group web site for me and looked up the contact number. By now we'd been at the playground for an hour and no one else was there. I was beyond annoyed and well into anger. I gave up and expected to just spend another hour there with my son and then go home but I sent a text anyhow, just in case. Because I did want to see them.
Meanwhile, Captain Adorable had been swinging and sliding and climbing. He was hungry and asked for something to eat. As it was now after 11:30, we went to a shady spot to the side and he began to eat the strawberries I packed. He was having a good time. Just then we saw the person we had been waiting for! I went to say hi but was also angry and had a hard time being warm and happy. In fact, I am sure I was rather short. We returned to our spot and Capt. Adorable ate part of his sandwich. I was too worked up to eat. Then he began to play tag with some random boy and ran off. I followed, pushing the stroller. You see, although it is a public playground, there is a school right next to it and those kids use the playground as well. I did not want to leave my stroller unattended because I did not know what might happen to it with so many big kids without parents around.
I ended up chasing Captain Adorable and his tag partner around a bit, and then softening my mood and talking to and meeting some of the other group members. A few of us were standing together chatting while still looking at our children across the playground. Capt. Adorable was across the way, near the slide, with two girls, one 4 and one 5. The 4 year old came to get her mom very urgently. Off the mom went. A few minutes later Capt. Adorable came to get me, also very urgently. I was just talking to someone and trying to get the conversation warmed up, so resisted being pulled off somewhere to examine a caterpillar or something similar. When I finally got pulled off, there were the girls and the other mama. I remarked that I had also been summoned and that it must be the in thing to do.
She replied by telling me that in fact there had been a battle! There were some big boys who were being mean to the little group of 3 kids. One boy in particular was mean and threatened to hit the oldest girl in the face! That's when the middle girl went to get her mother and then Captain Adorable came to get me. She told me that she did not know what had really happened, that she had chased him off and his teacher was also nearby while she spoke to him. The school kids went in very soon after that (or at least, that group). Captain Adorable was...how can I describe it? He was stunned. He has still not processed this event hours later. At the time, he was pointing out a boy on the playground and saying he was the mean boy (I asked and it was not the boy). We had to leave soon after and on the way home he told me a story about the event.
This is all paraphrased of course:
There was a mean boy and he hit [insert girl's name]. I went home and got my sword [he doesn't have a sword at home] and I hit him with it. He ran and ran and fell of the bridge and he was dead. Then he came back to life and he was swimming fast and I had to catch him in a motorboat. He kept me company in the motorboat. He was sick and had a snotty nose and I had to wipe it for him. He could not blow his nose.This story, thought without the bit about the bridge and the boat, has been repeated several times over the course of the day.
Once we got home, I let him watch Little Bear (so warm and safe) and eat a chocolate bunny (I love my MIL but why oh why did she have to bring such large candy???). I hoped that this would allow him to calm down and decompress. I was also exhausted (I've only been a single parent for less than a week and I am in awe of people who do it all of the time!) and wanted some time for myself. After tv time he painted on his easel (currently on the porch) and then played with scissors and his cutting book. Then we put on socks and shoes and rode bikes out to our neighborhood playground.
I was surprised that he interacted so much with the other kids there, because usually he keeps to himself (having had some other not-so-pleasant experiences with witnessing teasing there). I could tell that the neighborhood kids were not being inclusive and nice, but I kind of figured that if he needed me he would come get me. I did see that he had a stick and another (bigger) boy was pulling it out of his hands and breaking it up, and then kicking the remnants which were still in Capt. Adorable's hands, but not kicking him. I went over to them to see what was going on. If the boys were doing something they should not do in front of parents they would stop (but taking away a stick, well, perhaps they've been taught that? No one likes playing with sticks because of the dangers they represent...) and if my little one needed protection I was right there. (One of the boys had a definite Napoleon complex, but that's a different story. Kept telling me he was bigger than Captain Adorable--not sure he really was, btw!--but when I pointed out to him that he was 5 and Capt. Adorable only 3 he insisted he was younger. Annnnnywho...)
I alerted the other mom to the kicking and the boys were seperated and everyone put down sticks...or so I thought, until a few minutes later when the boys were back, with a girl. They were ganging up against Captain Adorable. I guess the little Captain had said he was going to kill the bigger of the two boys and the girl was trying to protect him. Captain Adorable insisted that he was protecting the girl from the mean boy who wanted to hit her. Sigh.
After that people left. Captain Adorable did not want to bike home, so we walked our bikes. Once home he wanted to drink and eat. He drank well but ate mostly only strawberries left over from lunch. But really what he wanted to do was talk about the events of the day. He wanted me to tell him the story of what had happened at the playground this morning and I wanted to emphasize the difference between this morning and this afternoon. He got very excited and told me another version of the story with the sword, only this time with the children of the afternoon and adding that he was going to take the mean boy to prison. It was hard for me to understand how very confused he was...or was he? It is so hard to tell. I believe him. But I know he doesn't have a sword. ;) Know what I mean?
Anyhow, I tried my best to talk, listen, and reassure. The questions he asks and the concerns he raises are valid and I am not sure how exactly to address them. I am guessing that a lot more of these confused heart to hearts are in our future.
After the talk we played with moon sand outside on the deck, then put a painting in an envelope with a letter to Grandpa and Lita (dictated to me of course) and put the envelope in the mail. Then upstairs for book and bed. He asked me not to leave, but to stay with him. I think he really needed some extra snuggling. I stand by what I told him earlier in the evening. My sweet boy I love you so much. You are strong and you are loved. Even if someone does hurt you it will not matter because you are strong inside yourself. And yes baby, people will hurt you in life, but for the most part it doesn't matter. It only matters about the love. And you have a lot of love.