Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dirty Little Secrets #86 - #90

#86) Teddy has only one friend.

It's all he needs, he tells me. The other sweet-cheeked kids at his preschool hanker for his attention - "Teddy!" they cry, when he walks into the classroom. But Teddy has eyes for only one little boy.

"My friend is W. I only have W.," he tells me.

Sometimes his conviction about needing only one friend is so strong that he pushes aside the advances of his classmates. J. calls out, "Teddy! It's Teddy! Hi Teddy!" But Teddy hides his face in my legs and screams out "No! I am not your friend! W. is my friend!"

Sweet J.'s face crumples as his mother hurried him past us in the parking lot.

I kneel down and hold his own sweet cheeks in my hands. "Teddy, all the kids in your class like to play with you. It's your job to be kind to them." And it is. I believe that kindness is our job, and that sometimes it must be taught.

"No!" he repeats. "W. is my friend!"

#87) Teddy never has a playdate.

Like many younger sibling before him, Teddy often gets the short end of the stick. Although my Flickr account attests to the fact that he is the more willing subject of my many thousands of photographs, he has not shared all the rich experiences that characterize Lizzy's early childhood.

He's been her faithful observer.

If we had stayed in Minnesota, her stable of friends had a convenient set of younger brothers. Her playdates always brought along an extra.

We'd have been ready made, baby!

But instead we finished school, moved home, and now live the good life with a real job, a big house, and no friends. In our well-established and small community with a good school district, the parents of Lizzy's new friends are older. Her school mates are all the younger siblings, who have no tolerance for little brothers.

Instead of coordinated playdates that include snacks and gossip for Mommy, we have little girls dropped off, eager to shut the door in Teddy's face and head for the dress-up trunk.

#88) I fear what the other parents think of me.

As Teddy cuts down his classmates one by one, I do my best to make excuses. "He hasn't been sleeping well. He's really cranky," seems to be the best I can come up with.

Truth be told, I can't explain to them why he's hurtful to their children. They look at me and say, "well, I was in the classroom the other day and they played quite nicely. I'm sure he's not feeling like himself today. He's always so busy, he must be tired!"

Truth be told, they are most likely being sincere. All I read into their statements, though, is their hinted-at prediction than his "busyness" will morph into ADD.

Truth be told, what I really fear is what I am thinking myself.

#89) I was incredibly nervous when I picked up the phone to call W.'s mom: W.'s very pretty, skinny, well-put together mom who handles her two boys effortlessly.

I thought that she'd be taken aback by the invitation, unable to figure out how to say no to the mother of the boy who is always so busy and ornery. But she accepted readily.

I was more nervous when I thought about how Teddy sometimes handles the realization of his dreams. When we got to see the space shuttle launch two weeks ago, he threw himself on the ground and cried for an hour. Would he handle W.'s visit the same way?

But it all went swimmingly. They played. We talked. There were plans for more.

#90) I expect too much from Teddy.

I forget that he is a three-year-old boy. I forget that he should still sometimes have tantrums. I forget that he should have boundless energy. I forget that, at three and a half, Lizzy was just learning to dress herself and put on her own shoes.

When predicting his behavior I am usually wrong. When interpreting his behavior, I am my own worst enemy.

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