Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Teasing at 3

Jeb is now in a classroom full of 3 year olds daycare. (They make the transition at 2y9m) He is doing amazingly well; in fact, it's the easiest transition I think we've ever had in his life, like, ever. I am so thrilled and proud and have all those gushy mama feelings that come up simply because your kid is thriving.

Ok, so I have to back up a bit. Starting around a year ago, whenever I painted my toes, Jeb wanted in on the fun. So I painted his toes. For months on end his toe nails were pink, since I paint mine every couple of weeks. Bennett rolled his eyes some, but it was a non-issue. One day Jeb decided he wanted his finger nails painted. So I painted them. Every few weeks he'd ask, and I humored him. See where this is going?

2 year olds don't notice their peers' finger nails. 3 year olds do.

I was heartbroken when his teacher told me he got teased for his pink finger nails. My poor baby was so confused. He said to the Teaser but my mama told me it's ok. << This is where my heart shattered into a thousand pieces. (ok, maybe a tad dramatic, but really maybe not.)

My only reason for heartbreak is that my perfect, wonderful, amazing son was sad in that moment, and confused. That just a little smidge of innocence was stripped. Not only that he experienced teasing, but for something so superficial. These kids are only THREE for crying out loud. Rationally I know it's more about this age learning very concrete gender "rules" than anything else, but irrationally I want to slap the Teaser across the face and double dog dare him to EVER tease my precious again.

On the other hand, what an opportunity. Bennett and I had a really terrific conversation about how to handle teasing, and how to handle when Jeb wants to do something that we know makes him vulnerable out there in the Wild. Like having pink finger nails. Do we care about the nail polish? Of course not. I don't give a shit if Jeb wears a hot pink tutu with purple glitter sequence on it every day of his life. But, I won't let him wear it to school until he understands what he's getting himself into. Also, it's not Jeb's job to be my example to the world that I am super cool with hot pink tutu wearing boys.

It's also been a huge opportunity for really terrific conversations with Jeb. I've casually used it as an example of why we shouldn't tease others. He's been talking a lot more about who in our family is a girl, and who is a boy. I've explained that some people think it's silly for boys to wear nail polish, so for now we'll just keep it on the toes since it doesn't feel good to get teased. He's happy with all of this, and I'm sure he's not understanding most of it still, but I've found it to be very very good practice.

Seriously, though, I had no idea that teasing started quite this young.

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