I’ve learned something new about parenting tonight. A few weeks ago, Chloe left her very favorite stuffed bunny at the farm. It was bedtime when the realization occurred and both of us were desperate. She was so sad, not the whiny, trying-to-get attention cries, but she was sad with that deep loss when someone you really, really love cannot be with you. I was sad knowing how hard this was for her. I picked up a stuffed bear we had recently bought on vacation and began talking to her through the bear. She sniffled a bit but was soon thrilled that I had turned an ordinary stuffed animal into a friend who wanted to talk and snuggle with her.
This got us through a few nights until we could return to the farm to reunite with her precious bunny. It is now our new bedtime ritual to have “puppet-night”. The amount of characters keeps increasing every evening. Tonight it was already past bedtime so I wanted to rush through her friends. While performing “snuggly bear” Chloe whispered something in the bear’s ear. She told him a secret – that he can’t tell anyone – “don’t play with Queenie (one of the characters) because she isn’t our friend.” I nearly gasped. Do kids become this mean so young? We had just come home from a school open house and she was playing with kids from different classes. I can just imagine her in a gaggle of girls talking about excluding another child. Or perhaps she was on the other end. I was concerned and didn’t want to ignore this.
My usual reaction would be to lecture Chloe. But instead without really thinking about it, with the bear in hand, Snuggly Bear told Chloe a story about when he was the new kid at school, the other kids didn’t want to play with him because he wore funny clothes and it made him feel very sad, blah, blah, blah. She listened so intently to the bear as though she had climbed mountains to receive wisdom from a great master. Indeed, she felt sorry for excluding the other doll. If I had told her this directly, she would have rolled her eyes and said something like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I know, I know.”
Hmmm. I think I like puppet-time.