The next person that hurts my kid’s feelings is going to get punched. I can’t take it and someone’s going to suffer along with me. OK, so maybe in the spirit of nonviolence and in the fear of being killed, I’ll punch no one. But I’ll be sad, damn it.
Parenting opens up the long-forgotten wounds of childhood. Being a kid isn’t easy. And parenting forces me to relive all of my own social disasters and relearn my buried insecurities. I want, more than anything, to spare the Kaiser the angst I experienced as a child. But then – don’t we all, in our own ways, suffer through childhood? There’s no choice, no option, but to let him navigate his own path. It’s agonizing. It’s terrifying. It breaks my heart.
The Kaiser’s bath time is generally one of the best moments of my day. We discuss school, he tells me his imaginary Thomas adventures, he asks endless questions about the differences of metal, plastic and wood (no, seriously). So he’s running his truck ‘round and ‘round the tub. I’m sitting on the floor, my back against the cabinet, rereading A Million Little Pieces.
“Momma,” the Kaiser says, “Brody is not my friend.”
I look up from my book questioningly. “Why not, stink?” I ask.
“He doesn’t like me anymore,” he glances at me and clutches his truck.
I close the book and squat next to the bathtub. “What do you mean? Why do you think that?” I ask, and I feel my heart sink.
“I asked him if I could come to his house and he said no. He said I could never come to his house,” the Kaiser says softly and unplugs the tap, signaling me to turn on the water. I turn it on and he sits back under the tap. The water runs over his little shoulders.
I sit back down on the toilet and watch him. “Well, that’s not very nice, is it?” I ask. I watch. He doesn’t answer, but stares at his truck. The water runs down. He turns his truck over in his little fingers. He says nothing.
“You know, sometimes people aren’t nice to us. And sometimes people hurt our feelings. Are you ok?” My eyes blur with tears and I pick up the towel. “C’mon, boog, let’s hop out.”
He says nothing.