If you've been following my blog, you'll know that Jaysen has a preoccupation with videos. If you're new to this blog, let me just say that preoccupation is an understatement. He has an addiction.
My son loves videos. Primarily the Baby Einstein and So Smart series. VHS tapes come in first place, with DVD's running a close second. You can gauge his anxiety level just by how many tapes he has with him at that time. He carries these tapes everywhere. He studies them, talks to them, plays with them, sleeps with them, eats with them, and occasionally even watches them. My son is also 6 years old.
That being said, he received his first dose of true, mean-spirited, kid taunting.
We went to Dollface's house to help her put up her fence, and let the kids play. Jaysen really likes her kids, especially the two younger ones, and her son is the same age as he is.
I have found that there are instances where kids will either be really open and encouraging with Jaysen (usually girls), or they think his quirks are "weird", and tease or shun him (usually boys). In the latter instances, Jaysen hasn't appeared to care or notice, and seems to brush them off. Until now.
As kids will be kids, and kids will be crabby when tired... the kids were playing out back. All of the sudden, Jaysen runs from the back of the house, crying. I asked him what was wrong, and he managed to snuffle out "he...said...'you...watch...baby tapes' !"
Ah. The peer pressure has begun.
T-rex had fired an insult at Jaysen, and it hit a nerve- bulls eye.
The dilemma is, he does watch baby tapes.
Because he was so upset, I told him that if T-rex hurt his feelings, he didn't have to play with him- that he could play with Kayleigh instead. So he and Kayleigh went off to play.
Later that night, I revisited the situation.
Me: When T-rex said "you watch baby tapes", how did you feel?
Jaysen: I mad. That's mean. I don't like T-rex and he not my friend.
Me: I know your feelings are hurt...
Jaysen: Yeah. He hurt my feelings. I don't wanna go over anymore. Ever again.
Me: Well, kids argue and tease each other. You'll be friends again.
Jaysen: I not going back ever again.
Me: Jaysen. Let's look at your tapes. See right here where it says for babies?
Jaysen: (reluctantly nods his head)
Me: I know you really really like your tapes, but maybe it would be better if you left them at home, or in the car, when we go places? You could have them at home, but keep them at home?
Me: What do you think?
Jaysen: (excited) I know! I know what I can do!
Me: What's that?
Jaysen: I can speak up!
Me: Yes, you can speak up for yourself- what would you say?
Jaysen: I say 'you don't say that! That's a bad word, and you don't say! It hurt my feelings!
(such a problem solver. I realize that this is where I'm supposed to say "yes! Speak up for yourself and it will all be good!" But I'm also realistic, and know that this sort of stuff doesn't fly with kids)
Me: Jaysen, I don't think kids will understand what that means. I don't think they would know what you mean by 'that's a bad word'. I have another idea. How about when we go out, what if you let me help you pick out a tape that other kids won't tease you about?
Me: When you start second grade, kids will probably tease you about the tapes. Second grade is too old to carry around things like that. You don't have to come up with anything right now, but think about it and we'll figure something out.
And thus was Jaysen's first exposure to real heartbreak. I'm sad because my baby's feelings were really truly hurt, but I'm relieved that the incident happened with T-rex and not a schoolmate where it could have formed a chain reaction that spread like wildfire. I'm thankful that Kayleigh was empathetic to Jaysen's pain and offered to pull him aside to play with her. And I was pleasantly surprised that Jaysen's first solution was to "speak up" (for himself).
I knew it would eventually reach this level with the tapes, and I'm curious as to what the outcome will be. Peer pressure is a powerful thing, and I'm hoping he will be influenced in the right direction. I always said that I was not going to force him to give them up, as his attachment to them is fierce. He will have to make the decision on his own, with my guidance and support. It's not going to be easy, and he will be facing his very own internal battle. Meanwhile, my heart is breaking for him.
A parting thought: Isn't it odd that when the influence is negative, we call it "peer pressure" - but when it's positive, we call it "modeling"? Interesting.