Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Time To Make Sure He Believed It

One of our newly-minted three-year-olds has recently learned how to "pump" himself on the swing and he has lately been joyfully testing the limit of our swing set. A few days ago, another boy ran into his swing zone and was knocked down. This happens a lot less often than one might guess, but it does happen, especially with children who are new to the place.

The boy who had been knocked down looked about as if wondering what had happened, figured it out, then hopped up and went about his play before I could even take two steps toward him.

Meanwhile, the boy on the swing had brought himself to a complete stop. His eyes followed the other boy as he as he ran off, the event already, for him, in the past. The boy in the swing, however, remained hanging there for a minute. Then he began to bawl. I tried consoling him with the assurance that he had done nothing wrong, that it had been an accident, that the other boy was obviously unhurt and unafraid, but he was inconsolable. I know from experience that he's not inclined to want me to physically comfort him, so I just stayed close as he cried himself out. Then he hung there with his thoughts for a good ten minutes.

He wasn't physically hurt; it was his conscience that was bruised. Or perhaps he was crying in pure empathy, on behalf of the boy he had knocked down. I imagine he was sorting through regrets, perhaps wondering if he could have done something differently, perhaps feeling whistful for the innocent days before he could swing himself so high. I had assured him that he had done nothing wrong, but he needed, I think, the time to make sure he believed it.

He left the swings altogether then, opting for the art table where he joined other children drawing with oil pastels on construction paper, but on the following morning I was relieved to see that he was back in his customary swing. I placed a pair of orange caution cones in front of him and another pair behind in order to divert children away from his swing zone, keeping everyone a little safer. I'll never really know what exactly the boy felt or thought, but I do know the world is a better place with him in it.

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