This week hasn’t been a great one. And that’s probably for a number of reasons…
A change in routine, the heat and different class teachers to normal (which seems to have unsettled several of the children, not just Mini) all add to the frustrations and anxieties that Mini experiences.
But I think that the biggest issue this week has been at school with a friend.
I think Mini has suffered with some big feelings and teasing this week. The teachers haven’t noticed anything, but I know he took in his small cuddly Smurf keyring one day. This is as treasured as Mini’s toys tend to be – he doesn’t really care for any of them, but this one has hung around for a while. When he asked on another day to take a toy I suggested the same toy, but he told me he didn’t know where it was. When I picked him up after school I checked his book bag and there was the Smurf. I pulled it out to show him I’d found it, but he hurriedly packed it back in the bag and shushed me!
Later on when Mini was calm, I asked him if he didn’t like the keyring anymore, or if his friends didn’t like it. He told me that one of his friends had told him that Smurfs were stupid and silly, and another friend had joined in and told him the same, and so he didn’t want to take it anymore. He was clearly embarrassed and worried about taking it again. I tried to show empathy, and talked about how hard it must have been for him when his friend said those things about his special toy; I hugged him and told him that maybe his friend was feeling a bit jealous because she didn’t have one of her own. But I told him that he didn’t have to take it again if he didn’t want to.
I felt really sad about this – he’s 5; he should be able to enjoy the Smurfs at that age right? I must say, I also felt happy in equal measure though because it’s very difficult to get Mini to talk about his feelings and even harder to get him to open up about what happens at school (he can’t even share what he’s done at school each day). I felt proud of myself for spotting the right moment, and creating an opportunity where Mini felt comfortable enough to open up. I was also proud of him for trusting me enough to share what happened with me.
And so it starts, age 5, in reception – that teasing and bullying between children (and their parents) over what children have/don’t have, want/don’t want, like/don’t like etc.
He’s experienced feelings he might never have had before – embarrassment, ridicule, inadequacy, and of course, it’s probably added to those feelings of shame he experiences all too often anyway.
We all now have to think much more about other people’s perceptions of Mini, and he has to give the right impression to his peers, so as to avoid the bullying and confrontation that can so often occur.
Mini’s very lucky to have a small group of (usually) lovely little friends. And certainly those who we’re likely to stay in touch with over the summer are brilliant kids, who are all totally accepting of each other as children of this age should be. I hope this will help Mini to stay young, and not grow up too quickly. But how sad, that at just 5, our kids have to think about having the ‘right’ possessions….