we need to talk about…my 3yo

June 15, 2011 § 1 Comment

This morning at playgroup 3yo was playing his favourite game ‘ice cream shop.’ This is where he stands behind a pretend counter, you order an ice cream, lots of chocolate sprinkles, raspberry sauce etc, he pretends to make it and then throws it in your face. Hours of entertainment. Trust me. Having been covered in about ten ice creams, with flavours developing into chicken and squid sundaes with frogspawn topping, I decide to sit down and play with 1yo for a bit. 3yo continues to play ice cream shop with his friend, other 3yo.

I am keeping an eye on 3yo and I see other 3yo tumble backwards off the ledge they are standing on, whacking his head on the floor. I can see that my 3yo is far from him and did not push him, however his reaction is to run as fast as he can from the spot with his head down and pretend to play with something else.

Other 3yo’s childminder is comforting him, so I say to mine “Don’t worry, I saw that you didn’t push him. Why did you run away?” 3yo shrugs. Then I ask “Don’t you want to go and see if he’s OK?” 3yo shrugs again, turns around to where his friend is howling at the top of his voice, says matter of factly “He’s not,” and continues to play.

I can’t help but wonder when children develop empathy. And if he was a girl would he have been more likely to stick around and comfort his friend? I think about the times when his brother has hurt himself. 3yo does not act concerned about him, but is quick to sing him a song and try and make him laugh when he’s crying. Perhaps this is a form of empathy. But then I remember last night, when I was trying to get 3yo to not knock 1yo off my bed when jumping up and down on it. I  mention the time when 1yo was with me and fell off the bed and broke his arm. 3yo immediately starts howling, I initially think out of terror that he might hurt his brother like that. After a while the sobs desist and he says “why wasn’t I there to watch when <1yo> broked his arm?” I’ll try and get the name Kevin Katchadourian out of my head.

As 3yo is about to turn 4, here are some last insights into the workings of a 3yo’s brain, based on this morning’s play:

Santa learns his breaking and entering tips from burglars, and doesn’t wear shoes

Spiderman is real, and America is ‘the country where Spiderman lives’

My threat to ‘leave him at home unless he has his coat on by the count of 5’ is now countered with ‘mummy will go to jail if she leaves me home alone’

Midwives are definitely boys because it’s too hard a job for girls.

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