The other day at the park my nephew had a wreck. He was jumping off the side of the slide (because as any fool knows slides are not just for sliding down) when he was sabotaged by a glitch in coordination. It wasn’t a bad fall; he only had a couple superficial scrapes to show for it. But there were a ton of people around.
After we clean him up, he decides he wants to do one more slide before we leave, but he chooses the smallest slide and goes down halfheartedly, and it’s all very sad. On the way to our next stop we discuss whether it still hurts, which he tells me it does not, and whether he’s embarrassed which he also denies.
But he’s still tremendously sad.
Eventually it occurs to me that “embarrassed,” may not be a word most people are familiar with when they’re three, so I ask him if he’s sad because all those people saw him fall and he says, “yes.”
Now I’m pissed off at those people for existing, because I feel like Z wouldn’t be upset right now if they didn’t, and what right do they have to be wandering around the park with their eyes anyway? On the other hand this is hideously unreasonable, and I’m really just pissed off at myself for not catching him.
“It’s ok,” I say to him. “None of those people were laughing at you. Everybody falls. I fall, and your mom and dad fall, and Ben falls, and all those people at the park have fallen too, I promise.”
Pointing out the misfortunes of others is perhaps not the most inspiring method of comforting a child, but it’s what came to mind. And still, he was bummed.
We get to the arts festival, but only kind of, because we have to park far away. We start walking, well I start walking, and I’m carrying a sad three year old, a heavy, sad three year old, and I think the sadness is making him heavier than usual. When we finally get there he doesn’t want to go in. He says he wants to sit. So we sit. On the curb outside the arts festival.
He says, “Don’t look at me, please,” and I oblige.
He picks up a rock. I ask him about the colors in his rock. We discuss that for awhile.
So there we are, sitting on the curb, not looking at each other, discussing rocks instead of feelings. It’s like I’m participating in some kind of weird male bonding moment. I didn’t know three year olds could have such man moments.
I texted his mom for backup. She suggested an uplifting lesson on what the word “embarrassed,” means. That sounded promising, he likes to learn new words. Like “evolution.” But embarrassed is not a fun word to learn when you are.
He would seem better for a while then get sad again. That happens to me too, but I get to drink. And if he was twelve I would have offered him one.
It turned out that his arm is sprained. When I found that out, I had a guilt headache for two days. But I’m better now, and more importantly, so is he. Feel free to call me with babysitting requests.