On St. Patrick's day, I put a green shirt on my son for preschool. He asked why we wear green today and I told him to celebrate St. Patrick's day, and the other kids in class would probably wear green too; they would be the "green team." Apparently I struck a nerve, he said, "Good, then Luca Brasi (name changed) will let me be on his team." I asked him what this meant, and he said, "If you are not wearing a football shirt, you cannot play with Luca Brasi or be on his team." My mind started racing, and my heart squeezed. Is this starting already? I knew how I responded mattered, but I was panicked. I said, "Well, if he won't let you on his team, then start your own team with Charlie." "I can't, Charlie is always on his team-he has the right shirt." I put him in the car to give myself some time to think of what to say next, but he started:
"Mom, I just need a football shirt."
"What kind of football shirt?"
"One that has a picture of a football, and says football on it."
"O.K., I will look for a football shirt."
"It also has to have a number on it."
"Fine, but can you tell me who crowned Luca Brasi king of preschool?"
He laughed and added, "Yeah, he thinks he's a teacher or something."
I was happy he understood my comment, and was able to laugh about this. My husband and I decided to not talk about it unless he brought it up again. But, a few days later at 7 a.m., he wanted me to call Luca Brasi's mom and ask her what color shirt he was going to wear to school that day. I know that children can be cruel, and my guess is this child found by accident that he feels powerful when he can make another child feel bad. This same boy had another in tears in the hallway at school one day, when he told him that all the other kids were going to McDonald's, but he was not invited. In all fairness to Luca Brasi's mom; she is very kind, and would be horrified to know that her child was making others feel bad.
Isn't it too early for this type of behavior? I thought it would be years before B felt the pain of being excluded. It breaks my heart; I don't want him to ever feel left out, but that is not possible. I would prefer that he always had the confidence to stand on his own; to be the Dalai Lama of preschool-waving his hand bringing peace to the playground. But 4 year olds do not think this way; most of the time I can't think this way. There have been numerous occasions where I have lamented to my husband about how all the other moms have cute shoes and nice coats. What kind of example am I? We care what people think, we want to fit in. As parents we cave to the little league culture, or we become so anti-establishment that it becomes its own exclusionary club. It seems like the worlds biggest pyramid scheme; scrambling to fit in, but not being honest with our feelings and accepting the cliques.
If we buy the shirt, chances are it will be the wrong color, or his shoes will be the wrong kind. Part of me wants to not buy him the shirt, but I know what it feels like when you want to just be like everyone else. My Mom always bucked the system. I remember in 3rd grade we were going to perform a Hula dance for the class, and I wanted a cheap plastic green skirt like all the other girls, but my Mom made me one out of string tied together. I was not happy when she helped me stand out, but I wonder if her decisions made me a little stronger. If I give in, am I helping or hurting him?
If you are still reading this, you are probably rolling your eyes, and thinking, "Good grief woman, just buy him the shirt-what are you going to do when things get really tough?" I know. When I brought him to school on Thursday, every boy there was wearing a football shirt-no joke. I laughed to myself, thinking of all the other moms running around town looking for a special shirt. We will buy him a football shirt, but also a baseball shirt, with instructions that he is to inform Luca Brasi that, "Football season is over." Let's hope that it is.
Have you had a similar problem? How did you handle it? How bad does this get? Should we become Amish and avoid all this nonsense? Where can I buy cute shoes like the other moms?
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