Tuesday, September 1, 2009
How do you deal when your child annoys another kid (or worse)?
Looks like Max is playing nicely here, right? But what happened on Sunday at the pool is still haunting me.
We'd gone to the concession stand to get—you guessed it—chocolate ice-cream. As we walked back, Max spotted a little girl playing with his toy boat, dashed over and grabbed it. "Max, we don't grab, it's not nice," I said.
Well, Max got all riled up and went stomping around the kiddie pool. When he got to the area where this little girl—around three years old— was standing, he stomped very close to her. During Max's next lap around the pool, he reached out and hit her on the head. Not hard, and she didn't cry, but still.
I was horrified. Her dad grabbed her and protectively wrapped his arms around her, eyeing Max cautiously. Obviously, he needed to do that; if the situation were reversed, I would have shielded Max. But it hurt to see a parent having to protect his child from Max, my Max, who at the age of six seemingly should know better than to hit but who does not quite understand that yet.
Max is still figuring out how to interact with other kids. Earlier in the day, he had irked another boy because he was pretending to be a scary monster and roaring and chasing this kid, who got tired of being monster bait and started whining, "Stop, Max, stop." Max didn't get that the kid no longer found the game fun, and kept right on "AAAAAAARGH!"-ing him. He doesn't yet pick up on social cues or understand when other kids get frustrated. I've seen it happen before.
"I am so sorry," I said to this dad; I stopped short of saying "he has special needs." Sometimes, I just don't want to go there, you know? Afterward, though, I thought that maybe I should have explained. It's not always immediately obvious that Max is disabled because he is able to walk pretty well. That day, as he rambled about the pool, he must have seemed like your average bratty kid, making trouble.
What would you have done?