My Son the Protector: Hero or Villain?

After a loooong week of Javan being sick with a croup cough/cold, we finally went to the doctor again today and got the OK for him to be around other kiddos! We have been nowhere except the grandparents’ swimming pool and one quick trip to Wally World, and we both had cabin fever big time. When we left the doctor’s office, we headed straight for Micky D’s. It was playtime!

He did so great playing with the other kids! After so long of being crouped up (croup, get it?), I half expected him to run hog wild through the restaurant causing mischief and mayhem and paying no heed to innocent pedestrians. First, he played with a boy who was several years older than him. They went to the top of the playground tree house, the boy told Javan to stay up there, and the boy came down. Now, I’m sure that the boy intended to go straight back up, but he got distracted by the computer games (which have no place in a play area anyway) and forgot all about his erstwhile playmate. I called up to Javan that his friend was playing computer games and that he could come down and play how he liked. This took quite a bit of convincing. The friend had set a play rule: stay here. I finally convinced Javan that he doesn’t have to obey his friends, and he continued playing happily.

He also did surprisingly well with the babies on the playground. We have to watch Javan carefully around babies, because he can be mean and physically aggressive with them. He can also be extremely sweet to them, singing them songs and playing patty cake, but you never know which it’s gonna be. Any time Javan plays with a child smaller than him, I remind him that he is the biggest and strongest friend so it is his job to be the protector. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Today it did.

One little boy, only 19 months old, climbed up the twisty “big boy slide” and his mother, who was about as big around as my right thigh, didn’t want to go up after him because she was “too big.” She asked Javan if he would watch over the boy and keep him from entering the passage that led to the tree house stairs because she was afraid he would tumble. He accepted the job heroically. In his mind, he had just been made the Protector of babies everywhere. The baby did fine, came down the slide in one piece, and Javan’s job was done.

Or so I thought. An unfortunate 5 year old boy (who was very small for his age) later tried to enter the stairway passage, and he was told by the Protector that he was not allowed to enter. Being a 5 year old boy who did understand that he did not have to obey his peers, he continued on his merry little way. But the Protector took his job seriously. Apparently, he took it upon himself to smoosh the little boys head until he submitted to the Protector’s mighty authority.

The little boy, whose name I later learned was Michael, promptly escaped through the acceptable alternative route, the slide, and told me in gory detail of the head smooshing incident. He was followed closely by Javan, who upon seeing my face in response to the story, promptly escaped back up the slide to safety. I called him down to me and we talked about it. I had already perceived the reason for the head smooshing, but since this behavior is rarely…ok, ok, never, acceptable, we had to discuss it.

I explained to him that his role as Protector only applied to that one little boy who’s mother asked for Javan’s help, and that it did not apply to any of the other kids on the playground. His “ooooooohhh” light bulb response confirmed my suspicion that he was merely trying to enforce the rules that had been set before him. I also explained to him that if he noticed that a friend was breaking a rule, he could verbally express to the friend that what they are doing is wrong, but he could not under any circumstances stop that friend’s body. If the friend continued in their lawless ways, Javan can tell an adult instead. He accepted this as fact, but I know it will be a hard earned lesson that will need to be retaught.

That was the only incident that happened the entire time we played there! This is spectacular for Javan! I know for a fact that the medicines we have him on are helping him to be the kid he wants to be. The kid he really is under everything. What a wonderful feeling of affirmation!

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