He was sad because he and his brothers are enrolled in our city’s Rainbow Summer park program (to cover the part time day job) and they really love it. Going to Grandma’s is nice, but Rainbow Summer has lots of kids in it and that’s better.
As I cuddled him and rocked him and talked to him, I told him that I was glad that he cared about the people he was with every day. He was glad that I knew that that was important and said that there were even some people who cared about him.
Rainbow Summer, which was held at every park in the city, ended last week and we are now in Rainbow Summer Extension, which is held only at our park. The extension is a bridge between Summer and the School Year that was added for parents who use the program for sitting rather than to give their kids something to do (although the paperwork for the program says explicitly that it is not a day care program).
We’re only three days into the extension and the cross-town collection of kids don’t really know each other, yet. Beloved Son is pleased that some of these new people care about him.
We talk about how nice it is to be cared about. I was thinking that he felt well liked. But he went on to talk about people who would play caroms with him even though they kept telling him rules he already knew and about a time that he had told on a boy who had peeked at him in the bathroom stall and the Yard Duty had made the peeker sit on a chair.
I thought that he was digressing, using the talk about caring to lead into talking about other important events. Then he said, “And there’s a girl there, and she was a big girl, and once she was carrying three big sticks, hockey sticks, by me, and she dropped one and she turned around and said “Are you all right? Did it hit you?”, and she didn’t like me!”
Whoa! There was a difference between liking someone and caring about them and Beloved Son knew what the difference was. And he thought caring was more important!
Caring was the reason he didn’t want to leave. The people who would let him play even though they thought he was too young to know the rules did it because they could see that he wanted to play and because his wanting mattered.
The Yard Duty who put the other boy on time out did it because he could see that Beloved Son was upset and because his feelings mattered.
The girl who asked if he was all right even though she didn’t like him did it because she could see that he might have been hurt and because his safety mattered.
It’s one thing to enjoy someone’s company, to like them. It’s another thing entirely to notice someone’s needs and to act for their welfare. It’s another thing entirely to care. And Beloved Son prefers caring. Beloved Son is glad that I’m glad that he cares. Not too shabby for a seven year old.
So we cuddled and rocked and talked and, finally, he fell asleep. It’s still tow days ‘til the plane leaves. Maybe a few more calls squeezed in here and there will turn up a permanent sitter and he won’t have to go. Or maybe they won’t and he’ll have to say goodbye to some new people that he cares about and visit Grandma and Grandpa and the cat and geese and chickens.
Either way, it will be fine. Either way, he’ll be with people who care. And he’ll be himself, which is finer.