Ok so this happened today:
I was at the store with Binker and Squishy. Hum de dum, just getting some groceries, when suddenly Binker’s dark side came out. A lady was just doing her shopping, walking past us, when he looks at her and says “you are a fathead.”
I did a double take, asked him what he said, and she answered “He said I am a fathead.”
Wellll, this is a new one… My sweet little Tuna would never have called a stranger a name like that. He’s more of a tell-stranger-his-life-story kind of kid, with a lot of charming smiles going on, maybe a song and dance. This whole calling strangers mean names thing is, um, weird, wrong, and kind of funny! Binker just turned four. He is learning.
Now, if a four-year-old said that to me in a store, I would handle it much differently than this lady. I would call him out, tell him that’s not nice, and that I, in fact, have a very nice head. I would probably tell him he had a nice, regular-sized head too, laugh, and move on. This would definitely take the embarrassment off of mom, and tell the kid in a nice way that he shouldn’t say that. But that’s just me, I guess. This lady seriously looked like she was going to cry! Like really, she was going to cry. Of course I explained that he should apologize, and, uh, say something nice to her… I really think that he psychically picked up on her deep insecurity and unconsciously aired it for her. (To be fair, she did kind of have an extra large head…)
He felt bad, said sorry, and I think he was embarrassed. He is four.
It ended ok, but…wtf? A fathead?! (Snigger, snort.) And would a four-year-old make you cry? I don’t get embarrassed easily, but I did today. I also thought it was hilarious. A little conflicting, I know…. Normally I would dive into the psychology of this and try to figure out if I have failed him somehow by not teaching him before this that he shouldn’t call strangers mean names (only friends and family of course). Is there something happening to his psyche that makes him mean and cruel? Blah blah, worry worry. But I just didn’t this time. I think he is just four, and learns things from his big brother and neighbors that he doesn’t understand. It’s really that simple. Now he knows, and some lady has faced her insecurity thanks to my psychic preschooler. Yep.