Friday, September 28, 2007

When I Say It's "Always the Boys",

(see previous post), I am merely reporting fact. The boys in Una's class have, so far, been the violent ones. I sure hope nobody takes this as evidence of an innate difference between girls and boys. That would be unfair, especially since girls are taught to coo at plastic baby dolls and do the cradle-hold while boys are handed water guns and light sabers and video games that are won through physical prowess.

Sometimes I think we're just plain stupid. We turn around after handing out light sabers and say, "Golly, gee, boys are so aggressive"

There's a boy in Una's class, M. The only way he knows how to interact is physical. Give him a car, he'll pound it on a kid's forehead. Smile at him, he'll start running after you, clobber on the shoulder if he can catch up. For no apparent reason, M smashed Una's face into the drinking fountain while she was getting a drink--the first day of school.

The worst part about his behavior is that it causes people not to like him. Even grown ups who should know better. Every other parent dropping their kindergartener off seems annoyed at M's behavior, and therefore annoyed at M. And there are few kind words spoken in his direction. I was one of those parents the first couple weeks, and then I wondered who was going to love this kid? Who was goign to love him out of his crazy, mixed-up, ways of relating. If he kept it up, he'd get more ostracized, and even less capable of connecting with the rest of the world.

I decided to be nice when he walked up to the line the other morning. And not just nice--but engaged. "Hey James," I said, as if he were my favorite kid. "How are you?" All the other parents stared at me.

M stared at me. Then he stopped walking and smiled. He turned around so I could see his backpack imprinted with the image of Lightening McQueen. "Cars," he told me and smiled.

"Cars. Very cool," I said back.

He went to stand in the end of the line, and that day, I don't think he punched or grabbed anyone while waiting for the bell.

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