The Playground Incident

filed under: Miscellaneous on October 12, 2009

So I was doing rounds today… checking in my favorite blogs… laughing and giggling and signing up to win (cause I am so going to win this time!) and oohhh and aaahhhing over peoples creativeness… when I came upon Carma's blog.

In her most recent post she talks about a day with her son out at the Renaissance Fair where he works as a juggler.  He is young, just thirteen, and already talented enough to be an independent performer.  He worked the whole day… juggling and working the crowd and pushing himself and smiling through frustration and fatigue.

And the whole time she watched her boy.

She watched him striving to please.  She watched him reaching out and hoping and trying to win the honor of a smile or some loose change from the passer by's.

It was hard on her… as I think it is for all moms.

It reminded me of a day I recently had with Colton.  (But not TOO recently cause we were outside enjoying the sun, not in the middle of a snow storm like we are now!)

This is the comment I left for Carma:

The other day on the playground (that's how *I* roll) Colton went up to
some girls who promptly ignored him.
He kept trying to get their
attention and they kept trying to get rid of him.

He did a leap and a
twirl and fell and hit is head where I promptly ran over to save him. 
He was un-phased and went right back to trying to impress them…at his own expense.

gotta tell you Carma… it was HEARTBREAKING to see my child want to
please a stranger so badly… to see his eyes as he realized they were
not going to befriend him… to watch his first bout of rejection and
know there was NOTHING I could do to change it.

I am still scarred by the incident, and often wonder if he even thinks about it…



I once heard that having children is seeing your heart walking around outside your body.

I never understood that saying until that moment with my child.

I would have given anything to give him the acceptance he was seeking.  For the life of me, I could not understand why those little girls were so mean.  Why they would reject this perfect little person that is my son?  Why couldn't they see how wonderful and funny and charming he was?

Upon reflection… I am coming to see that this doesn't have much to do with those little girls who just wanted to have a girl talk and whisper about princesses and fairy tales.

It did however, have everything to do with character.  What character am I fostering in my child and what kind of character does he glean from watching me.

And what can I teach him from this incident?  Do I talk about rejection and how to deal with it?  Because honestly, I am still trying to figure that out myself.  But is there something I can say to this innocent child now so that he doesn't spend a lifetime questioning himself like I do?

I mentioned to Carma that this incident is never far from my thoughts… but that Colton probably doesn't think about it much.

I wonder if that is true.

Is this just part of growing up?

Because it seems to me that I already went through this once. 

So why does it hurt so much more the second time?

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  • Janis says:

    I can so totally relate. Last spring while at the community center Rebekah went up to some kids and tried to play with them. She was pretty much non-verbal still at that point but I could tell she was trying to communicate with them. She even did her little dance – which her father and I find adorable – yet the kids just giggles and ran away. I’m sure she doesn’t remember it but I’m not sure I will ever forget. So wish we could protect our kids forever. I don’t think there is ever an easy answer to that subject!
    God Bless

  • Sara says:

    Oh man. I can TOTALLY relate! At the park this summer, a group of four kids decided they “didn’t like” Avery and were running away from her and hiding. She was only 3.5 and couldn’t understand why kids would run away. Broke my heart. AND the other parents wouldn’t step in! So I gave the Mom dirty looks and then we left. Hmph. If Avery was acting that way, you better believe this Mom would step in!

  • Bethany says:

    Why does being a mom have to be the best and worst? Watching my kids and hearing of other mothers watching their children’s hurts breaks my heart.
    My mom told me when I became a mom that “now’s when the real growing up begins.” I didn’t understand as I cuddled my sweet son who deprived me of sleep. I was glad to get up a billion times a night just to feed and diaper him.
    But now, as my children talk back, act unkindly to each other, scream, yell, throw fits, whine, demand… I see what she meant. Will I show the fruit of the Spirit of the fruit of self? Will my insecurities get in the way of my responsibilities as a parent? Will failure be a defeat or a new start.
    I will be praying along with you as we strive to raise these gifts we have been given.

  • carma says:

    Amanda, I’m so glad you made this into a post…
    Something tells me it’s even harder for kids today than when we were little ones…It’s a tough tough world and the best we can do is be their #1 advocates.
    BTW, VC is only 13, which is why I am extra panicky 😀
    Not that I’ll be any less panicky when he turns 16!

  • He & Me + 3 says:

    I had a similar experience with Model at a birthday party that the only person she knew was the birthday girl…she was sitting next to her & got up to go get the project they were working on only to come back to a full chair. She lost her seat next to her friend & then couldn’t find a seat. The look on her face brought tears to my eyes. She felt so lost…so alone…I was just glad I had stayed so I could find her another seat and stand by her to do the project. *sigh* It is tough being a mommy.

  • Sonya says:

    such a great post! I definitely know what it is to have that “want to protect/defend/do anything for my kid” mentality. 🙂

  • Laura says:

    You totally made me cry! I think about this stuff ALL the time. About when my children are older and things like this happen. What makes my heart hurt more than anything is knowing that there will be times (like yours with Colton) when there’s nothing I can do to make that situation better. You can mold your kids but not others (unfortunately) and things like this will happen. Seeing pain, hurt, frustration, etc. in my kids eyes makes me just want to scoop them up and take them to another world where there isn’t any of that. I remember the first time something kind of like this happened to Alexa…she got sick at daycare and threw up in her class with the other kids there and her teacher said she got tears in her eyes because she was embarrassed about it…the though made me cry all the way home!

  • Jamie @ Six Bricks High says:

    The world isn’t always a nice place to play. The mom in me wants to protect my kids from all that kind of stuff, but I find there are often great growth moments in times like these.

  • Karen@SurvivingMotherhood says:

    Because the first time around it was only our hearts that hurt. The second time it’s our heart AND our child’s heart.
    Seriously, I see my kids hurting and I remember when I hurt in a similar way, and the pain seems to compound. But now I know Jesus and I ask Him to heal the hurts, protect the hearts, and help my children know their identity in HIM.
    Oh, so thankful for my JESUS!!!

  • Tina Fisher says:

    sniff, sniff….
    I remember a time when Henry really only knew a couple of words. So he mostly just said, “Mama” for everything. I knew what he wanted and to me Mama was better than whinning. There was a boy (7 yrs) that came to our house and was making fun of him for saying Mama and “I’m not your Mama”. Henry had no idea and had this confused look on his face. I felt bad for him and thought it’s totally going to suck when somebody makes fun of any of my kids.
    I guess all we can do is teach them self confidence, independence for the “popular thing to do” and to be their own person and then let them know how right it is to be this way.
    Good for Colton trying to be nice and be such a nice friend. He’s already got the right idea! You’re a great teacher!

  • Carrie @ MartinManor says:

    Aw…that breaks my heart too 🙁 It’s so hard to watch…but I think as moms we have to try and let our kids work out those things on their own sometimes. I want to fix everything that hurts my kids’ feelings, but I also know that I’m not going to be there all the time, and they know that not everyone has to be their friend. I try and teach them to include others when they are playing, but if someone doesn’t want to play with them…I guess they don’t have to. It’s tough, and it’s hard to see your kiddo rejected. I honestly think it’s harder for us moms and the kids seem to recover quite quickly! …sigh…

  • olivia says:

    wow. i’ve never thought of this. ever. i guess i just figure that such interactions are normal and fleeting. it’s how we learn how the world works and how we fit into the situations that happen around us. maybe it doesn’t emotionally affect me because i don’t have kids but i’ve been around them tons and LOVE kids, so it’s not like i don’t pay attention.
    i went away thinking of this post, trying to figure out my perspective. here it is: i think it’s important to teach him to not take such things so seriously or personally. don’t give other people the power to make you feel bad about yourself. maybe it’s easy for me because of my personality type? but i was a kid….born with scoliosis with a spine the shape of a “S” and wore a brace and was a foot shorter than everyone around. i had my issues as a kid but somehow learned to only take the good that people said/did towards me and not take it personally when they ignored me or treated me like a 7yr old when i was actually 12yrs old. i learned how to laugh when offered the kids menu when i was 20. i think we need to drop the “rejection” word. people do and say stupid things, to say that they are “rejecting” your child means you take it personally. it gives people too much power. mostly, how people behave towards us is more about them than it is about us. does that make sense?

  • Londa says:

    I am so right there with you! I think I’ve been having mini-heart attacks for the last six years! While I hate seeing rejection toward my child, what my heart really yearns for them is to find their place in Christ–a wretched sinner who was chosen and is loved by a Savior–so they can return rejection with confident, selfless love!
    Great post! Thank you!!!

  • sheri says:

    Being a mom is definitely the most rewarding and hardest job in the world isn’t it? I think that we ALL just want to be liked by others. Sometimes that just isn’t going to happen. This really made me think about what I want to teach my kids about rejection too. This happened to my kids yet because they are still young but I am sure my time is coming.

  • denise says:

    i’m obviously way behind on checking your blog…i love this post because i can so relate, it is so raw and real life and true to my experience as a mom trying to protect my children and help them avoid pain i experienced…but, like you, not know how much to analyze/talk about or just let go (as our children probably have)…this happened recently to sea, another little girl her age said she didn’t want to play with her…sea kept imploring…finally sea turned to another little girl (this was at a birthday party) and said “do YOU want to play with me?” and fortunately she did or my heart would still be broken over it…sea and girl #2 ran off hand in hand and i thought it a wee ironic they indirectly rejected girl #1 in the process…i have huge issues with rejection and could do several posts on this when i’m feeling a little stronger emotionally…i think children are much more resilient and it is years of rejection and bad experiences that build up layers of pain and “issues”…so you have many more chances and your son will charm so many people in between…you are great at focusing on all those positives…i love the saying about heart outside of your body…TOTALLY relate…thanks for such an honest, connected, from the heart of mommy and yourself post…i’m not feeling too articulate but you get my point…

  • Margaret says:

    Hey Amanda, nice blog.
    Kids are resilient…I think you’re on the right track when you say he’s not thinking about it. No matter what you do, you can’t shield the little ones from all the hurt of life, only some of it. Those times of hurt are when they learn forgiveness and patience and kindness. It’s the hurts mixed with the joys that make the wonderful adults they will be. If you don’t make a big deal about it to Colton, he won’t think it’s a big deal, and won’t hesitate to try and befriend someone else. The next time, perhaps a bond will be formed, a friend for life. Who knows?

  • LindaSue says:

    I think kids do sometimes remember rejection like that. When my son was almost 3, we stopped at a BK while traveling and one older kid decided to keep picking on him and saying mean things. The mom did nothing at all, even when I asked if she could please step in and ask her son to stop. Three years later, my son still talks about it…usually when he sees someone else being picked on and wants to go be friends with them so they won’t feel bad like he did. It broke my heart when it happened; it makes my heart swell when I see the lesson he (so painfully) learned….

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