Last weekend I experienced a first in Elden's life I wish I hadn't: the first time he was visibly upset by another child in a way I hadn't yet seen--in a way that broke me.
I am an internalizer. When I am hurt I do my best to keep my game face on and pretend that nothing is wrong. I work through my emotions privately (and often to my disadvantage because rationality is not one of my fruits of the spirit, if you feel me) and apparently Elden has inherited this trait.
We were at Target and I was sitting in the toy aisle while Elden putzed around, pressing all the buttons on all the things. On one of the end caps was a bunch of clearance water toys. He immediately noticed a squirt thing that had tentacles and made his way over to it. There was another child there, a little girl about 4 or 5. As soon as Elden went to pick one up she immediately said to him in a raised voice, "NO! Those aren't *for* you." Her mom told her something to the effect of "that's not nice"--and while I appreciate that she said something I personally think that moment could have been a lot more teachable--and Elden quietly turned to silently make his way into my lap. When he sat down his eyes were wide and he stared off into the distance in the direction of the end cap. I told him it was okay, that he could play with those toys. His bottom lip quivered fiercely.
Typically, if Elden doesn't get something he wants, the reaction is immediate and explosive. Boy's got passion. This? This broke my heart. I could see him fighting away the tears with all his might. I quickly asked if he wanted me to walk over with him to the end cap so he could look at the toys and he nodded. It took less than a minute for him to forget he was upset and return to his often-sunny temperament.
And then it hit me. This is just the first time, and it wasn't even that bad at all. There will be kids who make fun of him. There will be friends who betray him. There will be love interests that don't return the sentiment. And there's not a damn thing I can do about it. I can support him and love him and be there for him if he lets me, but I can't protect him from the crap that is other people. And I don't like that one bit. I thought I had several years before this became a reality! If I could I would put him in a little bubble, immune to the hatred of the world. But I also know this was an important lesson: sometimes other people suck. It is not a reflection on you. You need to learn to cope with the emotions that come with other people sucking. You will always have your family here to love you and pick you up and support you, if you let us.
I just wish people didn't suck.