Being the big kid
My youngest sometimes feels a little left out.
Where my older two are separated by just two and a bit years, he’s almost four years younger. Where I feel confident letting my eldest head off to the library with a friend and I’m perfectly happy to have my middle guy scooter around the block on his own, the youngest really isn’t ready to be unsupervised. Where his older brothers’ friends are big enough to just drop by and play, his playdates still need to be arranged through parents, which means they don’t happen as often.
His frustration and jealousy at this situation often comes out in really practical ways. He’ll take things that he isn’t allowed to have yet (like deodorant) or that his brothers have bought for themselves (like headphones). He wrecks or hides things on them. He also tries to copy them, especially in the things that he thinks are cool or bad (which he somehow equates as the same thing).
It was particularly bad last year when he was in Junior Kindergarten and so also the youngest grade in school. He was never allowed to play in the back playground with the big kids, only in the front kindergarten enclosure. The Senior Kindergarten kids got to be the helpers and the line leaders. None of the kindergarten kids could join the colour houses.
This year, however, as he’s gone into Senior Kindergarten, I’ve noticed a big change in him. I had been telling him that this was his chance to be a big kid and help the new kids learn how to go to school, a chance to be a friend to the younger kids and a helper to the teachers, but it’s been amazing to see him latch onto that idea.
Our downstairs tenant’s son is going into Junior Kindergarten this year, and after a week of half-day every-other-day easing in to start the year, he went off for his first full day today. It was his first time lining up with the big kids, his first time putting his backpack in its place, his first real day, and my youngest was right in there being the big helper.
He showed his little friend where everybody puts their things while they play and wait for the bell. He explained the rules of the game they play every morning (an incomprehensible cross between tag, cops and robbers, and the walking dead). He helped get him to the right line when the bell rang. He even held his hand in line so he wouldn’t be sad.
I’m sure this isn’t the last of him feeling like he’s left out because he’s the youngest, but it was great to see him take the opportunity to be the big kid in such a positive way, and I hope it can help him realize that he’ll also be bigger soon enough.