“Ah, so you played with Grace and Ethan today at daycare?” Cameron nodded happily as we chatted yesterday, but something was amiss. His answer when I ask him what he did at daycare is invariably, “Played with Roselyn.” Rosie and Cameron are sweet together, always eager to see each other, always playing together to the point where it’s possibly contributed to problem dynamics in the past. I knew she had been there.
“Not Roselyn,” I asked? He shook his head firmly, and answered, “Nuh-uh. We said, no we can’t play with you you’re a baby and you pooped in your underwear! We can’t play with her anymore!” Other gems were that they made her play in a different room from them, told her she couldn’t come out. Who was we, I asked? Take a wiiiild guess here. “Ethan!”
Now, poor Ethan has been the scapegoat for a lot. He’s certainly having a rough time, having to share his mother all day long and watch her give loving care to other kids. I know that sometimes his needs get shoved aside for Cameron’s and those of the other kids too. He’s also the eldest, and the only one with an older sibling. So naturally he’s the leader for such activities.
Lori, the daycare provider, and I have had some difficult discussions about bullying behaviour in the past, and it’s been made clear to me that she deals with it in a much different way than I would. So I’m taking control of this situation and just letting her hear how I’m handling it.
So, last night Cameron and I had a discussion about how it feels when Ethan tells Cameron he hates him, or calls him a baby. Cameron of course agreed, it doesn’t feel very good. It makes him sad, and mad, and it hurts. With a little prompting he seemed to understand, at least at some level, that Roselyn probably felt sad, mad, and hurt. And that he’d done that to her. We agreed that Cameron should “snuggle” her (his contribution) and say he was sorry for hurting her feelings (that took a bit of insisting on my part).
Today when I dropped Cameron off at daycare I reminded him, making certain that Lori heard, as this has been an effective strategy in the past. Cameron remembered when I asked him what he should say to Roselyn. When I see Roselyn’s mother I will explain what happened and what we’re doing about it.
I understand that to some degree this is all normal behaviour for kids in this age group. Excluding one, playing with only a select few, teasing about babyish traits, picking on differences. It’s all a part of early socialization. Tomorrow it may be Cameron who is excluded, or Noah, or Grace. Dynamics are very fluid at this point. However, I think that exclusion and hurtful behaviour needs to be dealt with appropriately. These kids are learning about relationship dynamics, of course. But they can also learn about compassion and care.
Edit next day:
I brought it up with Lori. I didn’t even mention her son. Apparently Cameron is the ‘ring leader’ in this one, she didn’t hear a word of “no play with Roselyn” until yesterday when Cameron started it. Whatever. I know my son – when he started telling me about this he didn’t know anything was wrong with it, and if it had been his idea he would’ve claimed it as his own. But it doesn’t matter who started it. I’m dealing with Cameron, and will talk with Roselyn’s mother so she knows this isn’t being ignored. And the way I started it with Lori? “So, is everything okay with Cameron?” Answer: “Oh, sure. Fine. No problems.” I mentioned he’d told me about this, and all of a sudden oh-yes, this is a problem. Dammit woman, if you won’t tell me there’s a problem I can’t deal with it!
Editing still later – a further chat with Lori went a little better. She seems to have decided to handle this particular problem by talking with all of the kids about how it’s not nice to play by hurting someone’s feelings. I still wish that she would talk to me when there is a problem that involves my son.