It’s starting already.
These kids are four years old. I really thought we had more time.
I thought we had a few more years of everyone getting along and being friends. Cole has been with most of his class since they were babies, and everyone has always gotten along really well. They may have a dust-up every now and again, but nothing that can’t be fixed with a hug and a “sorry!” In an ideal world, things would continue like this forever. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Yesterday Cole was telling me all about his day at school, as he does every time I pick him up. I ask him what he learned and if he had fun with his friends and if they did anything special that day. I really enjoy hearing him talk about what is going on in his little life right now. Yesterday he was telling me that his friend Emme was crying because nobody would be her friend. That broke my heart. I realize I’m likely not getting the whole story of what happened, but Cole seemed very concerned so I was too. Emme is a sweet girl, and has been friends with these kids for four years. Why would they all of a sudden decide that they weren’t going to be her friend? I’m sure it was short-lived and that they will all be happily playing together today, but I hate for her to ever have to feel like she has no friends.
Then my boy, my sweet angel, told me that he went over to Emme and said, “well, I’ll be your friend.” And my heart shattered into a million pieces. I’m tearing up right now just thinking about it. Because right now, at this point in time, we’ve done something right. He saw one of his friends hurting and wanted to help. Just hearing that made me so happy. We have really tried to stress the importance of being a nice person to our kids because I have been on the receiving end of kids and teenagers being mean and it is not a fun experience. It really creates a vicious cycle of crappy feelings because when someone is mean to you and makes you feel like you don’t matter, a lot of times you will find someone else that you can make feel the same way. I’ve done it. You’ve done it. As sucky as it may be, we’ve all tried to make ourselves feel better by bringing someone else down.
I really hate to think about these sweet, young, innocent children ever going through that. I can’t bear the thought of my tender-hearted boy having his feelings hurt on the whims of his classmates. It hurts even more to think that he might ever be the one that would act that way toward a classmate or friend. So I really try to drive the point home that being nice to everyone is important and that if he sees one of his friends getting upset about the way they are being treated by others, he should do his best to help them feel better. That could mean giving them a hug or high five, playing with them when nobody else will, or simply saying “I’ll be your friend.”
I would love for everyone my kids interact with over their lifetimes to think about how nice they are. I want their classmates to think about them years after they have moved on from school and remember that they were the guys who were nice to everyone. The kids who had friends across the board and didn’t just stay in their own groups. We teach them that everyone is important and has value and brings something different to the table, and so everyone should be treated with respect and kindness. I really hope it is sinking in.
Like all parents, I’m terrified of screwing this up. And I really thought we had more time.