The Peanut spent yesterday afternoon and evening digging through her bin of markers and drawing little orange pumpkin faces on pages from one of those pocket-sized spiral notebooks. Each one was different, and on each, she wrote one of her classmates' names. She counted carefully to be sure she hadn't forgotten anybody. Then she clipped them together and put them in her frog backpack, and today, she was going to hand them out to everyone.
When I met her bus after school, she waved to her friends as always, and as always on the walk back to the house, I said, "so Peanut! Tell me all about it! Did you learn anything today?" And she said "Yes, but Mommy, nobody wanted my pumpkin faces, Sienna drew all over hers, and I had to throw some of them away, because nobody wanted them! I worked so hard on them, and nobody wanted them!" And she cried and cried in my arms as I whispered "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry," and fought back tears myself.
I hate other kids. I hate them.*
And I know that they just didn't understand that the Peanut was giving them a piece of her heart, and that it's a lot to expect of a kindergartner to say thank you when a friend gives them a little piece of paper that seems meaningless. But my heart breaks to think of the Peanut watching her classmates reject or wreck these little gifts, and bringing the rest of them to the trash.
Did you learn anything today, indeed.
It was, at least, good timing for something like this. Peanut's best friend Gina -- who kept her little paper pumpkin face -- is over to play. Her Mom brought her over just as Peanut and I were wiping our tears. The girls took off running immediately, and the pumpkin face fiasco is suddenly ancient history. As I write, they are zooming around the yard like maniacs in between bites of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (that'd be no-salt-no-sugar peanut butter and all fruit jelly on wheat bread, because I am That Mom) and sips of chocolate milk. We're going to make lemon cheese bars (they're better than they sound) and they can eat them at the top of the play gym and then scream their little heads off coming down the slide.
She'll forget about it, or get it in perspective, and bounce right back. Me? I'm still sad. Sad to see her realize that she can't just wear her love for everyone on her sleeve and receive it back in kind. My heart broke for the Bean when it happened to her in Kindergarten, and it's breaking for the Peanut now. It's a chip out of their innocence -- just a sad, sad feeling, for a parent who cares about that sort of thing in a world where plenty don't.
*no, not really. But still.