Last week I took Tyler to a class at the local YMCA. It was a movement class for 1-2 year olds. I left that class full of emotion…three days later I’m still thinking about it.
Let me explain the scenario:
The class takes place in one of the YMCA preschool rooms, which means a lot of distractions for little people. A little boy was off-task and playing at the whiteboard during our sing-along time. There were some popsicle sticks in little pockets (think old-fashioned library pockets). The boy was playing with these and his mom was nearby, trying to get him back into the activitiy. Tyler saw him playing, also prone to being off task during this class, and curiously decided he wanted one too. He left my lap and traveled another few steps to the other side of this small whiteboard and grabbed a stick from another pocket. He didn’t touch the stick the boy had, just another stick in the area.
The little boy decided he didn’t like Tyler playing with “his” popsicle sticks and slapped Tyler across the face. Immediately Tyler’s head looked down and he started to cry. I could feel all the mom’s eyes on me as they waited to see what I would do. I reached out and grabbed Tyler’s hand and brought him to my lap, hugged him, and told him it was okay. Meanwhile, the other mom took her son out into the hall.
Tyler quickly bounced back and went back to the whiteboard. This time he was having fun holding the markers from the tray. In came the same little boy. Mother apologized saying she was trying to get him in classes to socialize him. Seconds after, he ran up and slapped Tyler again across the face. Again Tyler’s head fell down and he began to cry. Again, all eyes were on me and I consoled Tyler.
Twice more this boy tried to come up to Tyler and slap him. This time his mom picked him up before it happened and I had put my hand out to intercept any more slaps.
As I left class that day, I was full of emotions. I was mad at the mom for not doing more about her son. Clearly telling a 17 month old to say sorry wasn’t working. But, I also get he is young. However, my sweet boy doesn’t need to be the slapping board for your son’s process of socialization.
I was upset that the teacher didn’t apologize on the little boy’s behalf. I didn’t pay for a class to have my kid get slapped.
But mostly, I was just completely crushed and sad. Even as I write this, my heart is breaking again as I picture happy-go-lucky Tyler crushed and hurt..those giant tears sliding down his cheeks.
This is where I need advice moms… besides protecting our children, how do we protect ourselves during this process of motherhood?
I know that people are going to hurt my son. He is going to get his heart broken and he may be physically hurt again. I know I can’t protect him from all of that. I can’t go “Momma Bear” on every kid who won’t share with him.
But how do I also protect myself in the process of loving and protecting him? As a Mom, how do you protect your own heart from breaking each time you see someone treating your angel negatively?
I have to learn to let some of these interactions go. I can’t store up each time I witness someone not sharing. I can’t play over and over in my head how wonderful my son is (even though he is) and why would someone do that to him.
Or is this part of motherhood? The part that really, truly sucks. Watching someone hurt your child and not being able to stop it. I have a feeling that’s why all the mom’s were watching me… they hesitated in anticipation of my reaction, each probably silently happy that it was my child over theirs.
I know that motherhood will require me to teach Tyler how to protect himself and his heart. What I didn’t realize was that motherhood would be another time I had to learn how to protect mine as well!