Thursday, October 26, 2006

Vigilante Justice, Preschool Style

My son is in preschool in the neighbourhood two mornings a week, and he loves it. He is up for anything that gets him out in the world having adventures.

It is a cooperative preschool, which means that Jim and I sometimes help out as helper parents. I was helper parent yesterday for the first time and I actually had lots of fun. Kids are so cute. There was 'supercat', a little girl who spent the whole time crawling around the floor looking for people to rescue with her kitty superpowers. There was the extremely shy little blond girl with a brace on her leg and a heart of gold. There was the Irish sweetheart who turns out to be an unabashed nosepicker. And there was the gaggle of good old boys - football players just waiting to grow up.

And then there was trubba. There is one kid - let's call him Ralph - who has a few behaviour problems. As in, without warning, he will walk up to a child lying on the floor and step on his head. Or if another child is walking down the stairs near him, he will grab the other kid's ankle and say "Do you need some help getting down the stairs?" (at which point adults lunge in to prevent injury).

It's hard to be an adult in the room, trying to teach him how to behave around other kids, and trying to prevent unprovoked violence. But I think it's harder to be another kid in the room. Three and four year olds don't lie about what they're thinking, so yesterday I heard, "I hate that kid Ralph," from one child, and "I don't want to sit next to Ralph," from another. And there were a lot of troubled looks and avoidance tactics, to avoid getting hurt by him.

The most surprising, though, was when I found two of the good old boys sitting under the slide. "We're planning how to GET Ralph," they said, conspiratorially. And they were totally serious. It was like looking into the face of Peter Pan and his cronies. Or like standing on the island in "Lord of the Flies", waiting for the pig-sticking.

I never think of very short people as being old enough to have stereotypical characteristics, but these preschoolers were cowboys, plain and simple, making the wild west safe for decent folk.

It was vigilante justice, preschool style.


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