My youngest child (6) seeks out older children, like 9 or 10 year olds, whenever possible. Yesterday, at the beach, he found a kind-hearted 11 year old who repeatedly tossed him into the surf. Down he would plunk into the salty murk, where he would pop up like a cork, smiling and manic.
He loves the attention. At camp this summer, he found a tribe of older kids–Julio, Gustavo, Antonio—who let him tag along as their mascot. I don’t know what they had in common besides fart jokes, but the friendship seemed to go both ways.
Occasionally, he would play too rough, and they would push back. And when that happened, my son complained bitterly of the “bullies,” and how they all “picked on him.”
And here is where I shake my head and say things like, “Play with kids your own age,” or I talk to the big kids and tell them to take it down a notch.
But most of all, I worry. At recreo this year, my youngest will be on the patio during snack/recess time with the entire school. First graders playing with sixth graders. There is no equipment, except for an old juice box fashioned into a football. It’s very Lord of the Flies meets Mortal Combat meets Mad Max.
And I’m afraid my six year old is going to beat their asses. Okay. Not really. I am afraid that he is going to learn some tough lessons about self control and making good choices on the playground.
And while I am spilling out fears, here are the rest:
1. That I will be overwhelmed with tutoring obligations at the expense of my kids.
2. That the kids’ new teachers will be good fits (or worse yet, not!)
3. That I really will have to make two sandwiches every day. Every. Day.
4. Both kids having homework.
5. Both kids being functional in English. There’s that, too.
As I type this, at 9:30 AM, my eight year old came in here, tanned and bed-tossed. He is snuggling next to me, telling me to hurry up with the computer so that we can make something for breakfast, and ease into another flawless September day.
I kiss his sweet head, remember that there are few things more amazing than an 8 year old.
And I realize that there is really nothing to worry about at all. After all, the bruiser six year old is still sleeping.