I walked into the classroom, and I should have known something was wrong. T did not come running to me with his usual enthusiasm. Instead, he remained sitting on pillows in the reading nook. His face was sad, and perhaps nervous or scared.
I said a brief hello to his teacher and knelt down in front of him. I asked him what was wrong.
“My teacher is mad at me.” He looked on the verge of tears.
“Why is Miss B— mad at you?”
“Because I hit my friend. It was an accident!”
I was speechless. Sort of. “Why did you hit your friend?”
“It was an accident.”
“Okay,” I kept my voice calm and even, “But why would you hit your friend?”
“Because he doesn’t likes me.”
So we went to Miss B—. T was clearly not giving me any real information. Maybe she would know more of the story.
Miss B—‘s version of the events: L is T’s frequent playmate at school. They play superheroes all the time. So L was holding a caterpillar and T wanted to play with it. L wouldn’t give it to him. So T walks away for a minute. Then Miss B— sees T walk up behind L, pick up a toy shovel, and – WHACK – right on the back of the unsuspecting boy. He immediately said, “I’m sorry.”
Immediately, I wanted to cry.
So Miss B— takes T aside to find out what was going on. He said it was an accident, and he wanted to play with the caterpillar. He wouldn’t say anything else. So he was sent to the reading nook – no more playing for the day.
I had to choke back tears. Literally. Because, duh, this probably has more to do with me and my temper than it does these 2 little boys.
Miss B— tells me she had a conversation with T about hitting. “We don’t hit our friends.” She tells him, if you want to play with a caterpillar – there are lots of them out there – you just come talk to her. She can help T find one.
During our conversation, T is hanging his head in shame. He says nothing. But Miss B— gives him a hug and we leave.
As I’m signing him out, the director is there and asks if Miss B— talked to me. I tell her, yes. I am still fighting tears. I am searching for the right reaction, the right words, the right facial expressions. She talks to me about how they try to find out a reason for the children’s behavior. usually it’s something the teacher hadn’t seen – one kid teasing another – or can just be one kid thought they were playing and copied something he saw in a movie. But T wouldn’t give them anything, except that it was an “accident.” I told her T and I would have a talk about it when we got home.
I didn’t know what to tell him, to be honest. Of course hitting your friends is wrong. Hitting anyone is wrong.
But I have hit T. I smacked him upside the head just the other day. I’ve slapped his cheek after nasty remarks, spanked him a few times. I regret every single incident. I am learning to control myself. I am seeking help.
But to talk to T about hitting, do we have to really have a conversation about me hitting him? I’d rather just move away from it all. Let it fade into oblivion until he’s stuck in therapy blaming me for everything wrong with his life (I promise I’ll pay all your therapy bills, T!).
So we have a conversation. Or try to. All T will say is that L was not being his friend, and that it was an accident. Nothing else. So we talk and talk and I don’t remember all the details because really details don’t seem to matter to me. I told him what it felt right to say. Things that would make sense to him. He tells me he will not hit anyone ever again. We hug. I tell him things that make me cry and I don’t feel like crying again so I don’t write them down and it ends with me promising to not hit him anymore. We hug.
I don’t feel better about the whole thing.
First of all, how do I know I won’t lose my shit and hit him again?
And what in the hell is L’s mom thinking about me and the environment T is being raised in.
I don’t know the woman, but I’m going to have to just reassure myself that she knows this shit just happens. Even if I’d never hit T, kids hit other kids. Shit happens. And we learn and move on.
And I wouldn’t be surprised if T and L are back to playing superheroes on the playground at school again tomorrow.
Interesting fact: Much later that evening, T had his nightly call with his dad (since J is working out of town this whole week). He was curled up on the bed with J on speakerphone, and he told him about hitting L. Since he was on speakerphone, I joined the conversation. It turned into one of the few co-parenting moments I can ever remember J and I having.
We were married three years and never really did some real co-parenting.
It was kind of cool.
Except it’s weird to think that we parent well together when we aren’t actually being parents together.
So during that conversation, T tells J that L had hit him with a bucket. He would not specify if it was right before he hit L with the shovel, or if it was a few earlier, or what. I had the urge to go to Miss B— and the preschool director with this information. But J told me I had to let it go. It doesn’t make any difference. T did something wrong. He admitted to it, and he accepted his punishment. It’s over. It makes sense. Everything J said about that. We explained to T that if somebody hits him, he needs to tell a teacher. Hitting in retaliation is just as wrong as any other kind of hitting. So, fine. I’m letting it go.
But I’m still writing about it here. Because that’s what I do.