"Mommy, Jeremy* said that he doesn't like me," Henry said to me looking at the ground with tears in his eyes.
"What did you say to him when he told you that?" I asked, feeling completely out of my league.
"I told him I didn't like him either." And with that, he skipped away.
Realistically, I know that not everyone will like my son. And I know that because I know that not everyone likes me, and that's just life. But hearing the hurt in his three-year-old voice cut through me like a knife. And it made me realize another part of this parenting journey that I'm not quite ready for - broken hearts, broken friendships, the feeling of sadness when it's bigger than "Daddy won't let me have a third pack of fruit snacks".
I'm not ready for his feelings to be hurt.
I'm not ready for his heart to be broken.
I'm not ready.
Henry, at three years old, is still very partial to certain people in his life. Jackson, Eston, Sophia and Serenity all consistently rank high on his "best friends" list. And the hugs and genuine feelings that pass between them all on a day to day basis at daycare is incredibly heartwarming to see.
The shouts of "Henry!" when he comes to daycare after a few days away. The bear hugs he receives before heading home at night make me smile. And the few stolen kisses he's received from his "girlfriends" always make me laugh.
Hearing that another boy might not like my son, no matter how Henry feels about him, too, hurt me in a way I didn't know was possible. It felt like a personal attack on me. And yet, he shook it off, skipped away, and went on with life.
If only life could be as easy as it is at three years old.
*Name has been changed to protect the other child, even if he doesn't like my son.