Watching Luis grow up has been such a joy for me - granted he still has a ton of growing to do after all he is only fifteen months and change. Still, there is no greater feeling then watching him grow and develop, grasp new concepts, witness all his firsts from taking his first steps to climbing over my couch to get at the oreos on the end table while mommy is in the kitchen for the first time; or now, the first time he socializes with another child. Now I am not talking about the few minutes of interactions most children his age have before they get bored and move onto a toy or something else, but the kind where your child and another child actually play together and run around together for a while. For Luis and I this occurred the other day, and I couldn’t have been any happier watching him interact with this other little boy!
For most moms, I think every mother fears that they will have that child who hits others at the playground or bullies the other kids in school. For me, this was and is a huge concern…I mean after all, i don’t want to be the “that’s the mother who’s kid is hitting everyone” type of mother. At a young age, usually 9 months to two years old, it is normal for babies and toddlers to hit or pull hair. I will say that once Luis turned one this became pretty frequent behavior – and that really worried me. It seemed no matter how many times I said “no” or told him “Luis that is not nice” he kept doing it! After doing some research about the topic, I found children do this not to be vicious or mean or to even hurt you, but rather to get a reaction out of you. So, every time he yanked my hair and I squealed “ouch” Luis would roar with laughter. He might have found it hysterical, but the more and more my hair was being pulled out the less cute and funny it became. On a larger scale, I became concerned that my son was going to be a bully. I mean I literally had nightmares about him hitting children and me receiving phone call after phone call about my unruly and mean child. His behavior was also starting to make me uneasy every time we would head to the playground. Although children don’t really begin to socialize or interact consistently with other children until they are about eighteen months, I still worried he might wallop another child in the head or yank on their hair.
About a week ago, in between my work, I stopped home for some lunch with my little man and a trip to the playground. Our trips to the playground are pretty routine…he gets super excited and grabs my hand to walk all over. First without fail, we head over to the jungle gym and he goes up and down the slide until he gets bored. Then he just kinda wanders around until he notices the swings. I ll push him back and forth for a while until it is time to go home. Anytime we go to the playground, Luis has never shown much interest in any of the other kids. Sometimes he’ll walk over to them, but usually he has had enough of them after about five minutes. His main playmate is me. As happy as I feel because he wants his mama to play with him all the time, I knew the day would come when he would prefer little ones his own age.
As usually we arrived at the playground and Luis squealed with excitement. After taking our tour of the playground he went for a little boy who was playing with a ball. I figured he wanted the ball and was probably going to try to take it from him…great – not only is my son a hitter but now he is going to steal this kids ball. But this time was different, I noticed Luis being apprehensive, being a little shy – which is definitely not like him. He kept looking back at me almost as if he wanted reassurance, and then he would look at the little boy and start smiling. Angelo – an adorable 26 month old – took the initative and came over to Luis. They stood there checking each other out and sizing up the other one, and decided at that moment for the next hour they were best friends. Neither one cared what their mommy was doing and neither one wanted their mommy to interrupt their “play date.”
While Luis was playing with him I laughed and sighed at how big my little guy was becoming. Watching him and Angelo go up and down the slide together over and over again was just so precious; seeing them waddling or attempting to run after one another was clearly a Kodak moment. But, it was the moment Luis walked over to Angelo at the end of the play date that had me holding my breath begging in my head over and over again, “please don’t hit him, please don’t hit him.” Luis’s pulling and hitting at home had basically subsided, he seemed to have finally grasped the idea that it is not ok to put your hands on someone else, but I still wasn’t sure what he would do with a little kid in front of him. I watched and waited – I didn’t want to jump to conclusions and overreact before he even did something. Luis got very close to him and put his hand on Angelo’s head. “Oh no” I thought, this is usually his technique…he plays all sweet and coy and then bang or yank. But not this time, Luis began to pet Angelo’s head like he was one of our dogs and then rested his own head against angelo’s as if he was cuddling up to him. “AWWWW!” was all I thought…and am sure I uttered out loud. I was so proud that my little boy was playing nice. He is growing by leaps and bounds everyday, and his body as well as his mind is developing, and at this momnet when I watched my son be affectionate – not rough – with another child, I realized no matter how many times I may doubt my decisions or doubt myself as a mother, I am doing a great job and Luis is proof of that.