On Sunday morning, we were at church. We don't go as much as we used to because my photography sessions sometimes get in the way. However, I had a free Sunday due to rain, and we got to go to St. Simon.
We went ahead and went in the cry room, not because we were worried Noelle would cry, but mainly because we were late and Noelle likes to get up and walk around. She doesn't like to be held much if we aren't going anywhere. So...cry room it was.
Noelle was a perfect angel, per the usual, just looking at her book and making all the old ladies fall in love. There were just a few other children in the room, one looked to be her age, and the others were a couple of years older.
Noelle started taking interest in the toy box, situated in the middle of the room. The other kids were playing there, so I think she wanted in on the action. She would take about 10 steps toward the box, and then she would turn around and come back to us. I try not to hover, so I just let her do her thing. She would then get the courage to go about 20 steps, then come back. Finally, she made it to the box, and she was proud of herself. She was so interested in the used, junky old toys that she dropped her precious stuffed cat Bella on the ground and didn't think twice about it. I saw a little drooling gap-toothed tot with pig tails eyeing Bella, so went and snatched her up before it was too late.
Anyway, my point to all of this is that each time Noelle took her steps toward the box and the other kids, I felt a tightening in my chest. I didn't know why I was having anxiety until I thought about it for a few. I was nervous for Noelle because I wanted the other kids to like her and want to play with her. I couldn't believe I was worrying about this as Noelle is only 14 months old, but the thought of her experiencing rejection at any age or time just made my stomach hurt. I wanted to protect her and tell all the little kids that Noelle had really cool toys and was a nice little girl and she would be a great friend to any of them, but I wanted to see what she would do on her own.
Like a normal 14 month old, she didn't really interact much with the other kids...that is until the little boy who looked to be about her age bumped into her and sent her straight to the ground. No babies were hurt in that collision.
Fast forward a couple of days, and we were at the Castleton Mall play area. It wasn't busy, so we let Noelle get in there. We were close by because that place can get a little crazy. Anyway, she was attempting to climb the two steps up to the slide, and she wasn't quite getting it fast enough for these two kids impatiently waiting behind her. You know the gestures you make when you are walking behind a slow old lady at the mall, and you just want to say, "Move along grandma!"? Well, these kids were doing that to Noelle, and I immediately took on my Mama Bear disguise. I wanted to knock the kids to the ground or tie their shoe laces together, but I gently helped Noelle up the steps and guided her down the slide before Hurry-Up Henry and Impatient Isabelle could hurt Noelle's self-esteem.
If I worry this much about Noelle and how others are treating her now, I can only imagine how my heart will break the first time someone doesn't want to be her friend or says she can't sit at their lunch table or if she gets cut from a team or if a boy breaks up with her. I see kids mistreating other kids all the time in my class and school, and before I had Noelle, I didn't think much about it. Now I find myself counseling my kids, trying to get them to see that their words and actions can be hurtful.
Kids will be kids...until it's your kid, and then it's a different story.
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