Does your child have an enemy?
My son has recently turned 4. Aside from the whole learning to walk and talk accolades, he has come a long way in that short time. I am talking about the way he interacts with other kids. I remember when you could set 10 babies on a mat and they would barely know the other 9 were there. Then the stage where they have no social graces but no one cares; where they would happily steal someone else’s toy robot just to see what it tastes like.
In the “middle room” at nursery my child developed a fairly tight little threesome of regular friends. It was cute to watch and funny to ascribe Dawson’s Creek style drama to their daily report cards:
Oh no! Joey played too long in the sandbox with Pacey and was late to meet our poor little Dawson at the Doll’s house. Poor guy was so upset he broke into very dramatic tears. (Come to think of it maybe that’s how they came up with some of the latter Dawson’s Creek plotlines!)
Once they moved up to “Big Room” the friendship circles widened and my son seems to enjoy playing with all the kids…except one. In the interest of neutrality and not negatively prejudicing your opinion of this child I’ll give him a pseudonym, something bland and middle of the road, like Damien.
My son seems to disapprove of Damien’s behaviour on a moral level. Each day is a different story of how Damien misbehaved.
“He doesn’t sit down at circle time, Daddy.” (queue my shocked face)
“Sometimes he even talks during ‘letter drawing’ time.” (queue my shocked and appalled face).
He sounds like a real piece of work this guy.
This was the conversation in the car today:
“Daddy, I love my sister,” my son offers up spontaneously from the back seat.
“I also love you and mummy,” he continues.
“Actually, I love everyone…except Damien. I don’t love Damien”
What is most comical about the ferocity with which he feels this dislike for Damien is learning the things he considers to be heinous crimes.
He lowered his voice to the conspiratorial tone he has just discovered he has.
“Daddy can I tell you what Damien did?”
This is a voice normally reserved for asking his grandparents if he can play on the Ipad when he doesn’t want me to intervene. I knew it must be serious if he was using it with me.
“Of course son, what happened? Did he push you? Did he steal your toy cars?”
“Damien got up in the middle of the night and he went around all the toilets in his house and he got all the toilet paper from all the toilets in his house and he brought all the toilet paper from all the toilets in his house back to his bed and he put it under his blanket!”
Trying to muster a face worthy of such insolence, “Really? Wow, did he tell you this?”
“No,” said my son, not quite having got the hang of lying, ”I just know.”
It would appear stealing someone’s toilet paper is the most heinous crime my son can imagine, ranking just slightly above talking during circle time. Sometimes I worry for how he’ll survive at University. He’ll need to steer clear of the rugby team.
I don’t know this Damien kid and there have been no reports of issues from nursery. It seems that his sheer disdain for the talking rules have been enough to get him added to my son’s blacklist and my son doesn’t forget or forgive that kind of thing easily.
I fear for the kids in school that don’t raise their hand in class, he’s just not going to stand for that sort of insubordination.
I suspect Police Academy training will eventually be a better fit.
Has he got this from my moral character?
It’s amazing for me to observe such a strict moral code in my 4 year old son. Am I particularly strict? Was I like that at his age?
I remember my teenage years and the outrage I felt at certain (with hindsight negligible) moral slights. Now, in my 30s, I believe I’ve mellowed, or perhaps loosened, I’m not sure which.
But if this experience with Damien is anything to go by then it might suggest that the men in my family have an extremely high and tight moral code at the beginning of our social existence which slowly, but surely, diminishes as we get older.
In which case, I’m very much looking forward to the hedonistic days of my 80s!