Being our only child, Mrs. LIAYF and I are very invested in Lukas' emotional well-being. Perhaps too invested at times.
Lukas is an outgoing kid and a lot of fun to be around. And, he is not is timid. If he enters a room full of kids, even if they are older, he will jump right in and start to play. Not only that, he will have definite opinions as to how that play develops. Often, he is the kid on the playground calling the shots.
He seemed to have nurtured that mindset while in care with Mrs. LIAYF, during his 8 month hiatus from his daycare. During that time he was in a much smaller group of kids. Of that group he was the oldest, and clearly the most developed of the children, so he became the de-facto leader of the group.
However now that he is back in his old center, this time in a pre-school classroom with 32 kids, he has had to reestablish himself in the social pecking order of a new group.
I witnessed a couple of instances last week while picking up Lukas, where he was playing contently by himself while a group of his peers were laughing and playing together. Later, I asked him about who he played with that day, and he indicated that his friends "Kinda didn't want me to play with them." He said this without too much associated emotion. Pursuant to his personality, he seemed alright with that.
I, on the other hand, was extremely sad for him at the time. I had actually witnessed this behavior 2 or 3 times and I was sure that he was being ostracized from the group for being too forceful with his will. I told Mrs. LIAYF about this fear, and she related to me that she had noticed something similar while dropping him off one morning. We talked to his teacher, who indicated he was just learning to fit back into the group. A group which had had several months to learn each other's style of play.
Still, as parents we took this hard. Our son has always been socially outgoing with everyone he meets, and to think that now he was being told by his friends that he wasn't welcome made both of us pain for him. The thought actually made me as melancholy as I had been in a long time. After all, we couldn't do much to help him out. This was something he would have to deal with all day at school, while we were off at our jobs. Obviously feelings of guilt at leaving him there also started to creep in.
Mrs. LIAYF and I even spent an evening dwelling on how he was having to deal with these issues and wondering if there were ways we could make him feel better. The next day was a carnival at his school and, as we arrived we were apprehensive about how he would be interacting with his friends.
We shouldn't have been.
As it turned out, he ended up playing all afternoon at the carnival with his peer group. Plus, I have since witnessed him playing within the group on multiple occasions. They all seemed to be enjoying each others company. His teacher even gave him a glowing report yesterday when I picked him up. "Awesome day playing with the other kids" she told me, knowing I had been concerned.
I guess that my son, at three, is old enough to figure such social matters out on his own. And, that maybe his Mom and Dad shouldn't own his feelings quite so much. It was a learning experience for us too.
Hey, we have only been parents for three years. We'll figure things out soon enough.