Saturday, August 23, 2008

Can't Buy Me Love

A couple of evenings ago, David came downstairs after tucking Jabberwock in bed with a sad look on his face. "Jabber wants to bring a car to daycare tomorrow to give it to Mister Big Kid Extraordinaire," he said.

"He wants to give away his cars?" I was incredulous. If there's anything Jabber loves more than toy cars, I haven't figured it out.

"Yeah. He said he wants to give it to Mr. BK, 'so he'll like me better.'"

This is the same kid who one day made fun of Jabber's "inja turtles" and his choice of clothing--not a mean kid, but a subtle one, with way more experience in the wide interpersonal world outside. He's in maybe fourth or fifth grade, and in the eyes of Jabber, a virtual god. At the very least a substantial hero.

I felt a stab of pain in my heart, thinking about this little boy wanting to give away his prized possessions in order to make some big kid like him better. Growing up is so hard.

So the next morning, he was all set with his car in hand. "Mom, I'm giving this car to Mr. BK," he said.

"Well, why do you want to do that, Jabber? I thought you liked that car."

He told me about how he wanted Mr. Big Kid Extraordinaire to like him, and he thought that maybe the way to do that would be to give him a car. I asked him if he would want someone to be his friend because he gives them things or to be his friend because he's fun to be around. We talked about how friendship was more than just things, and even though everything we talked about was a big heavy concept, I think he understood quite a bit of it. Then he said something that just breaks my heart, because I really wish I could take away all the rejection he'll ever feel, all the scorn of those horrible kids.

"Mom," he said. "I just like Mr. BKE so much. I go and stand by him all the time, and he says to me, 'Can I help you?'"

"And what do you say when he asks that?"

"Nothing. I just tell him that I like him, and I want to be by him because I like him so MUCH!"

I gave Jabber a big hug at this point, my heart aching for him with all his hopeful admiration, his big boy crush. "And what does he say to you then?" I asked.

Jabber shrugged then, like the matter was over, like he didn't really want to continue the conversation. "I dunno," he mumbled.

I pressed him. "Honey, what does he say to you when you tell him that you like him?"

He cried then, and I was glad that I persisted because it's clear he needed to get some love and comfort. And what does Mr. BK say to my sensitive little kiddo when Jabber openly expressed his admiration for him?

"Back off, kid."

So heartbreaking, this business of growing up.


Beverly said...

Is it over-stepping to intervene somehow? I think I would intervene. I might talk to the big kid.
I'm glad you pressed the matter. It was good for your son to share that with you.

CDP said...

That broke my heart. I hope Jabber keeps his car, and I know he'll find better friends than mr BKE (little punk)

liss n kids said...

You know, today I was there, and Mr. BKE was actually being super nice, and acting like he really likes Jabber, not like being fake, either, as far as I could tell. Jabber did decide to keep his cars, and we discussed how maybe Mr. BKE needs more space. The big kids will all be going back to school real soon, but I did mention something to our daycare provider, and she said that was surprising to her, given the way they usually play.