My son’s best friend at preschool bit him. Twice. There is a tooth mark of blood underneath the skin where his bicep will show one day. She cried after being scolded, he stroked her cheek and said “don’t cry.”
Preschools are scary places, jungles where manners, empathy, and kindness are mostly concepts of the future. Kids are mean, we all know that, we all have our heap of terrible stories to recite from our past. I know I do. But suddenly I find myself back in that scary place, only it’s worse, because I realize that I have to relive over a decade of it through my son’s eyes.
Before bed tonight, he told me that he (of course) doesn’t want to go to school again, because he doesn’t have any friends. He described who plays with whom, assuming that there is no room for him, that all friends are taken, how after lunch instead of playing with his best friend he played alone. I stupidly told him a story about how when mommy was small, a girl pulled her hair on the bus and made her cry, but after that the two became lifelong friends. He put his teddy to his face and began to cry. I told him that sometimes good people do bad things, that things like this will happen, but to think of all the good things that occur instead.
How do you explain a three-year-old that the world can be a scary place? That not everyone is nice? That kids hit, push, bite, steal, lie? That adults do too. Maybe by only by concentrating on the positive; telling him about love, compassion, beauty, knowledge, laughter, stories, adventures, flowers, trees, the sky, the sea, the wind, reminding him how happy he was when he brought me a flower this afternoon, how warm he is right now, under the covers, mommy next to him, how happy he’ll be to see daddy’s face next to him in the morning. And then, hope that the good in his life, outnumbers the bad.