counting (he always forgets number 5) snow covered sky view teaching her gentle crescent 'moon cheese' weee! paperwhite peak quiet time tea time ranunculus blooms and paperwhite crashes
Today Little Smith bit Roo's finger on purpose. I was half listening as he conned her over breakfast, inviting with a sweet voice, 'put your finger in my mouth wight here Wooby, it's okay'. Sure I was suspicious, but he sounded so innocent that even I couldn't imagine he would actually hurt her. When she toddled towards me in tears and wagging a puffy index finger with two tell-tale bite marks, I was genuinely shocked. I am an only child, but I'm not so naive that I don't get the whole sibling rivalry bit. In their year and a half as brother and sister, these kids have already pushed and smacked each other more times than I can count, and even delivered several bites in frustration. I'm working to help them find other ways of settling disputes over critical items, like Superman capes, but understand that this kind of squabbling is typical, and probably healthy on some level.
The piece that startled me about this morning, and felt different from their usual battles, was the manipulation. There was no conflict, she was minding her own business and he cooked up a plan to bite her finger out of thin air. Little Smith is such a sensitive and measured boy, why would he purposefully bite any one's finger with zero motive? When I asked him, he burst into tears. Clearly he was as confused as I was.
I was turning this over in my mind throughout the day, and I remembered a sinister scene from my own childhood. It was preschool, I was probably the same age as Little Smith. We were playing outside in the small yard behind the house-turned-school, when I quietly bit my own arm hard, leaving behind teeth marks. Then, for some reason that still completely eludes me, I convinced my classmate, Gabe, to tell the teachers he had done it. He sat on the steps serving his 'time out' for my crime, while I brazenly played in front of him. What kind of a manipulative and awful little girl would do something like that?! Oh wait, that was me.
I guess kids must just test boundaries, and try out behaviors, to eventually (hopefully!) discover basic empathy and morality on their own terms. It's still creepy though, and I hope Little Smith never sinks quite as low as my own dark preschool dealings. I don't even want to consider the cruelty of the preteen years... we'll take it one bite at a time.