Kids are bastards.
If the recent uproar over the age-old issue of bullying is any indication, it’s that children are not getting any less horrible than they were when we we kids, or when our parents were kids, or when the first parents ever were kids.
Kids are mean. We’ve always known this and it will never change. But I thought most of that started in high school, or at least junior high. My son’s not in any school yet, and though the group of friends he hangs out with are all nice little guys, the ones he doesn’t know, especially the slightly older kids, are already real jerks.
My son is a very friendly guy. He loves nothing more than meeting new people, and by “meeting” I mean “ambushing with nonstop waves and hellos until the new people respond in kind or risk seeing their entire afternoon disintegrate in the face of his incessant salutations.” He has no fear and will approach kids, parents, homeless people, gang members, policemen, the disgruntled guy in line at the post office, whatever.
I tried to tell him that the guy with no teeth that’s panhandling on the subway has no room in his life for new friends, but my son just wants to say hello and he will NOT BE DENIED.
I understand that not everyone is as sociable as my son; after all, everyone is different and what might be right for him may not be right for some. God knows I hate most people and avoid interaction with the unwashed masses at all costs. My wife is decidedly less misanthropic but neither does she approach the level of innocent friendliness that our son displays on a daily basis. At first I was prone to write it off to his youth; he hasn’t yet learned that the human race is largely despicable.
But then I saw other kids.
Like I said, my son’s friends are all very nice and personable and polite; when he approaches them they quickly begin to play together, or at least babble rapidly in the heat of some unintelligible discussion, probably about frequency of bowel movements or the quality of Mom’s cooking. But when my son approaches a strange child in his never-ending quest to befriend every living creature on earth, more often than not he is met by blank stares and maybe some nervous back-peddling. Mostly he’s just given a cold shoulder.
Even worse, at the playground, where he often encounters slightly older kids, they not only (understandably) run by him in a rush to go down the slide again, they frequently push him out of the way or even knock him over, oblivious to the fact that he’s smaller than them and just trying to hang out. Sure, some of these kids are five or so, but this isn’t District 12: there’s no reason for them to be so unfriendly and harsh towards younger kids. My son turns his enormous other cheek, of course, and moves on to the next potential new friend, blissfully unaware of the snub. But as a parent, there’s only so much of watching other kids ignore and bump and push my son that I can take.
Unfortunately it’s just about impossible to ever figure out what kid belongs to what parent, as in my neighborhood there are so many toddlers I’m pretty sure I’ve accidentally taken home the wrong little boy at least once. But if I ever do figure out who owns the kid that pushed my son out of his way in front of the slide, I’m going to sit down with that parent and find out why their son is such a hateful, irredeemable mini-Hitler.
I need to know what these other parents are doing to make their kids so antisocial. Because if anyone was gonna have a kid that hates other kids, it’s me. And yet my son is Ned Flanders compared to all these Nelsons.
What am I doing right?