Emotional Simpleton


This friend not invisible

Don’t worry — that title refers to me.

Boo played the bully today (again, if you’re keeping score). She was nice with K– for a good long stretch but then started pushing her friend off every swing and teeter-totter seat in sight.

The pattern: Boo picks a spot on the odd, three-sided moto-teeter-totter (ah, playground technology!), then K– picks a different one. So Boo hops down to shove K– off, K– smiles and giggles and runs to a new seat.

Bully, rinse, repeat.

Of course, I shouted at Boo to stop pushing and even physically stopped her once. (At that point, she treated herself one of her signature silent timeout-slash-tantrums.) In my head I could explain her behavior very simply: Boo is bigger than K–, so she takes what she wanted by force. Disappointing but hardly unique, right?

The story turned out to be a little more complex. Working Mom and Boo had a pre-bed conversation tonight during which my two-year, seven-month, five-day old daughter reported something like this:

“Sometimes I get angry at K–. I was playing with Joey and Dodo and Meema and she just wants to be right there. I just wanted to play with my other friends.”

Let’s forgive K– for not noticing Joey and Dodo and Meema, since they’re all imaginary. But I don’t forgive myself for not realizing what was going on. Seems that Boo wasn’t trying to grab the good teeter-totter seat for herself, she was saving it for Joey.

Boo also has a stage-manager’s need to orchestrate all the playtime action, so even when she is playing with K–, she seems to want to choreograph more than play with.

Still, pushing is the wrong solution, and Boo will have to learn that people with actual bodies rank higher than invisiblettes when it comes to getting turns on the swing.

But if I could learn a lesson here, too, it would be that even when Boo appears to be acting out of nothing but self-interest, it might be a good idea to get her to explain her story a little more thoroughly. Sometimes her true motivations are — really — hidden.