A lion sleeps in the heart of every brave man.
This nugget of wisdom is a Turkish Proverb I found on the Internet. I looked it up because of an incident that took place at Legoland involving Riley and Mean Boy.
Sometimes Riley acts exactly the way a three-year-old should act – stubborn, silly, irrational, and selfish with his emotions. Like yesterday morning when he absolutely refused to wear a shirt to camp no matter how much I pleaded, and, in the end, went to camp with no shirt on. (A Smart Mama knows when she’s fighting a losing battle with a toddler.) Other times, Riley displays emotional maturity and wisdom far beyond his three years.
On our second afternoon at Legoland, we settled into a restaurant for some much needed lunch, water, and air conditioning. The facility had a huge Lego play zone visible from almost every table so kids could play while parents ate in peace.
This feature is one of the things I liked the best about Legoland. (That and the nice service and spotless bathrooms.)
So here’s what happened. A young boy, probably about five or six years old, started pilfering Legos from Riley’s bucket. Mean Boy alert! I saw it happen but didn’t intervene right away. This is partly because I was hot and exhausted, but mostly because I wanted to see how Riley and Dylan, who was playing next to Riley, would handle the situation on their own. I saw Mean Boy’s mother walk over and yell, “Hey, don’t take Legos away from little kids!”
A few seconds later, Riley came running over to me with tears in his eyes and said, “Mommy, that boy called me a liar. I…I…I didn’t lie. I…I…I…I…I’m not a liar.” (Sometimes Riley stutters when he has a lot to say.)
According to Dylan, the conversation went something like this:
Mean Boy’s Mama: “Don’t take Legos away from little kids!”
Mean Boy: “I didn’t!”
Riley: “Yes, you did.”
Mean Boy: “You’re a liar!”
Mean Boy called Riley a liar.
“Of course you’re not a liar,” I told Riley. Then I got up and went back over to the play zone with both kids. At that point, Mean Boy’s mother was gone and Mean Boy was quietly building with the Legos he stole from Riley. “What’s going on here?” I asked. No answer. He ignored me. I wanted to throw a Lego at Mean Boy’s head, but instead I put some distance between him and my kids. I set the kids up to play at the opposite side of the play zone.
“Just play here,” I told them, but Riley had other righteous plans. He wanted Mean Boy to say he was sorry for calling him a liar. I followed him. Riley said, “I’m…I’m…I’m not a liar,” to which Mean Boy responded, “What are you talking about? I didn’t call you a liar. I called you a lion.”
Warning: Remainder of Post Contains Explicit Language
Editor’s Note A: That Little Shit! How dare he steal, lie, call Riley a liar, and think he could get away with suggesting it was a misunderstanding! I kept my mouth shut, but I also wished for him to get a nasty case of pinkeye and a painful sunburn before the day was through.
After the lion comment, I took a deep breath and flat out told Dylan and Riley to stay away from Little Shit Mean Boy, but Riley wouldn’t have it. He wasn’t a liar, Little Shit Mean Boy didn’t call him a lion, and Riley wanted justice. I told Riley I knew he wasn’t a liar and that he was right and Little Shit Mean Boy was wrong, but as much as he deserved an apology, he wouldn’t get the response he wanted. I asked him again to stay away from Little Shit Mean Boy.
What a hard lesson to have to teach a three year old child – that no matter how fair, moral, and honest you strive to be, there are people in this world who are not fair, moral, and honest and who will only ever strive to serve themselves. What happened next made me a Proud Mama. Riley pointed to our table and said, “Go back over there, Mommy, okay? Go back to the table.” He wanted me to leave so I couldn’t stop him from trying again (and again and again) to defend his honor. By the time I finally gave in (I’m still working on picking my battles), Little Shit Mean Boy was gone. Good riddance.
Riley is a lion. A fearless, courageous lion with a big, beautiful, brave lion heart.