Boobaby’s weird obsession with four-year olds manifested yet another twist this week: she became the object of a jealous feud.
Boo was following two preschool girls around the park, whom we’ll just call by their initials, since I’m getting so nervous about this whole coming out of the closet thing. “Vee” and “Ell” play together all the time, and I’ve chatted with Ell’s mom a bit. Vee’s dad, on the other hand, seems to have no use for me — he generally sits off to the side and avoids eye contact.
This Monday, though, far from avoiding us, his daughter made a beeline for Boobaby and asked (insisted? coerced?) her to play. I understand why my daughter likes older kids, but until this day I didn’t really get why the feeling is mutual. Vee made it clear: Boobaby makes a good pet.
Nothing wrong with that, of course — I sort of agree. And it’s great that Boo plays along with the big kids. Vee says, “You want to go play on the slides?” and Boo says “Yeah!”; Vee says “Swings!” and Boo says “How high?” Vee is quite the drill sergeant, but Boo has a great time, so who am I to interfere?
So what’s the problem, you ask? Well, do you remember “Ell”? From the second paragraph, Vee’s good friend and fellow four-year old? Vee was so busy playing with Boobaby that she snubbed Ell repeatedly. Ell hung back, distantly orbiting Vee and Boobaby, trying occasionally to get involved but mostly just looking on forlornly. Their parents weren’t intervening, but I felt like I ought to try, at least. The only question, then, was… how?
- 1. Foster play with all three girls.
I was a teacher, for crissakes. I could get all three kids to play bugs or pile sand or dance Ring-Around-the-Rosy, no problem. However, I’m really working on not stepping in on Boo’s social moments except in cases of impending physical harm.
And, I have to add, I’m wary of the dad’s aloofness. Maybe he doesn’t like me? He read the blog or the article and thinks I’m a jerk? I’m a wuss about being judged, so I held back.
- 2. Get Ell to step up to the plate.
I might have encouraged Ell to inject herself into the mix a little more assertively. Three kids can play “31 Gross Flavors” (our version of “ice-cream shop”) as well as two. But she’s not my kid, and maybe her mom wanted her to cross this friendship minefield by herself. Her business, really.
- 3. Take Boobaby away.
Well, that would just be idiotic. How do I explain to a 2-year old that “You can’t play with Vee right now because she really ought to be playing with Ell because they’re really good friends and you can’t play with them right now okay you can’t.” Lame, right? Although, I have to say, not completely wrong.
* * *
So, at a complete loss, I just stared stupidly on as Vee’s dad finally came over and pointed out to his daughter that Ell’s feelings were getting hurt. I tried to subtly edge Boobaby over to the sandbox, but I think I detected that dad — the one who ignores me, remember? — gave me a nasty look. Sigh. ‘Cause it’s my fault.
Sometimes I’m so busy having fun with my rough-and-tumble kid that I forget that the under-fives do, indeed, have emotional lives. Even though they recover quickly from their bumps and bruises, kids’ feelings are every bit as deeply-held and profound as adults’.