Thursday, August 12, 2010

Rejection

It's hard watching your two year old get rejected. Kai is a very forward kid. As her daycare providers say, with Kai, what you see is what you get. She is not shy (obviously). She's very eager and she gets really excited, particularly when her favorite people or activities are involved. One of Kai's favorite people (and if you've watched any of the videos posted of Kai in the last four months you already know this) is Ava from daycare. Kailey LOVES Ava. They read books together, ride trikes together, and push each other on the swings. They are good little buddies. But, they are very different personalities. Ava is reserved and shy and takes a little time to warm up to a new situation. She is introspective and observant and will master a new skill just by observing other children involved in the task. She is the yin to Kai's yang, and I love the friendship they have, which is even more remarkable considering they are both only two.

Ava hasn't been at daycare the last couple of weeks, but Kai has continued to talk about her as if she has been there along, or as if mentioning her frequently will somehow compel her to return. And, this morning, when I dropped Kailey off, who comes in behind us, but Ava and her daddy!! Kailey nearly fell over herself with excitement. She started shrieking and laughing, spinning in circles, jumping up and down. After spinning around like a whirling dervish for a minute, she ran over to Ava to try to give her a big hug.

Not surprisingly, all of Kai's enthusiasm completely freaked Ava out. Ava tends to take a bit of time to adjust to the drop off even during weeks where she has been coming to school consistently, but this was her first day back in quite awhile, and she was simply not ready for Kai. She burst into tears. Kailey's eyes got wide and she pointed at Ava and said, "Ava, boo boo?" Ava swatted her away. Kailey tried again (not one to pick up on social queues or to be easily deterred). Ava swatted again. Kai was clearly confused. The whole thing was so heartbreaking, as I watched both girls trying to navigate complex emotions that neither of them has the capacity to understand yet. Kai didn't understand why her favorite friend at school wasn't as excited as she was to be back. And Ava was overwhelmed, by being back and being affronted by Kailey within seconds of stepping into the living room. I could see Kai taking it in, trying to process what was going on and the fact that sometimes the people around you feel things very different from the emotions you are feeling. Such a hard concept to grasp.

I know that by the time I got half way down the street, Ava and Kai were likely head-to-head on the floor reading their books happily. Obviously their encounter this morning was not representative of some larger falling out. Nor does it compare to the sorts of rejection that Kai will experience many times in her life, to greater and lesser degrees, as she continues to make her way in this world. She will learn to navigate these rejections, and some will take much longer than a moment or two to bounce back from.

And, even though it is hard as a parent to watch your child deal with any sort of rejection, I think that I needn't worry too much about Kai. Indeed, if this video is any indication, Kai will just be her own best pal when others are less interested in her advances.

(this was Kai's attempt at gaining the attention of a few teenagers who were sitting in the amphitheater at the zoo. My favorite part is when Kai decides to just clap for herself, since the teens were clearly not going to break into applause anytime soon)

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