When kids are of a certain age, generally speaking, they don’t want to play with the little kids. It’s fun to run away and hide from them and that sort of thing. I know this from observing Sean and I know this from personal experience. I was the youngest, and even worse, a girl. I spent the better part of my early childhood chasing after my older brothers, hoping to be allowed to play. Either of them would have rather eaten a pencil than let me to hang out with them. In their defense, I may have been somewhat annoying. Somewhat.
And of course all the little kids want to play with the big kids because it makes them feel big and important and one of the gang. Deep down inside, I think I still want that. Just a little.
Anyway, in the last year or so when Sean is with either of his two good neighbor buddies, both of whom have younger sibs, they think its quite fun to exclude the younger ones. Collectively, we moms do not permit this. When this happens, I
threaten suggest to him that if everyone can’t play together then we will have to go home. I am hoping that at some point he will absorb this exhortation and do it out of a heart response and not under duress.
So then awhile back, Sean had a day off of school, and since it was was a nice day we went to the park to throw around our Nerf football. I’m quite good with a football. I can throw it with laser precision and get that pretty little spiral on it. It’s pretty impressive and you wouldn’t know that I could do that by looking at me. I bring that up now because there has never been another opportunity.
So we were throwing the football back and forth and a young boy, maybe a 3rd or 4th grader, wanders through the park. He stands off to the side watching, probably admiring my football spiraling skills or perhaps my tremendous beauty, I’m not sure which. I ask him if he’d like to play. He does, so I toss him the football and step aside. Sean and the boy throw the ball for awhile and all is calm, all is bright.
Shortly thereafter, two other boys pass through the park with a basketball. They are 5th or 6th graders, I can’t tell. I can only tell if someone is a 1st grader. They invite us to play a little b-ball (that’s basketball for you who are not as hip as I) and we set up teams; Sean and I and the 1st boy against the two 5th graders.
Aside: I can’t dribble a basketball to save my life. I do not have the basketball mojo. Never had it, never saw it, never been anywhere near it. If I happen to make a basket it is a fluke of the laws of physics. Tip: If ever you are choosing up teams to play basketball, do not choose me. I will understand.
There was something about the bigger of the two 5th graders. I could just tell that he was an oldest child and that maybe his mom had issued threats and made him to play with the younger kids and that at some point he had taken it into his heart. He made several well-veiled “flubs” and allowed Sean to get the ball and take it down court. I really appreciated that.
It wasn’t too long after that these boys grew weary of having to play basketball with me and decided to play Monkey In The Middle with the football. Back in the day, we called it Keep Away. I begged off and sat off to the side to watch.
The two fifth graders put Sean and the 3rd grader in the middle. Sean had a great time running back and forth and trying to get the ball. But the 3rd grader didn’t like it. It seemed to bruise his pride. He threw a bit of a hissy fit which all the other boys ignored.
Eventually the 3rd grader had enough and stomped off, which left just Sean as the monkey. The older boy would again discreetly flub from time to time and allow Sean to capture the ball and get to be a ball thrower instead of the monkey. But it wasn’t long though before the big boys were ready to move along.
“We gotta get going,” the big boy said to Sean.
He gave him a knuckle bump and thanked him for playing.
Sean beamed with importance.
I winked at the older boy which I hope he correctly interpreted as a nod of thanks and not some creepy-old-lady come on.
As we walked home, I noticed a little extra spring in his step.
“That boy that stomped off, what did you think about that?” I asked.
“Not good. That’s being a bad sport,” he said. “Dad doesn’t like that.”
“Yup,” I said, “Neither do I.”
I was pleased that he recognized that.
“That felt pretty good, didn’t it? That those boys wanted to play with you.”
“Maybe you could remember that next time Kendall and AJ want to play.”
He nodded and skipped ahead of me.
Two lessons in one day.
Probably more effective than 100 days of motherly exhortations.
So to all the moms of big boys out there who have gone to the trouble to teach them to look out for and include the little boys – thank you. Thank you very much.
That’s called community.