The Concords are all about upheaval right now.
They just moved, there’s a ton of work to be done on the new place. Three days after moving in, with two kids under three? The new nanny starts. Yipes.
So, to give Felix and Betty (not her real name, but what I will call her here) a chance to get to know their new neighborhood, I took them for a walk.
Oh, the broad, tree-lined streets, the tidy sidewalks, with grass between sidewalk and curb. The quietly well-appointed colonials, the landscaping dignified and perennial… Felix jogged about twenty paces ahead, stopping only under duress when I yelled “STOP!” at driveways and intersections–all boy, all go–while Betty dawdled and dutifully held my hand at every opportunity.
Betty is a sweetheart. She and Felix have hit it off remarkably well, when you consider that she left her old preschool and her old home three days ago, and is now adjusting to a new nanny, a new house, and an interloper. Felix–who’s been an only child for eight months, has forgotten how to share, grown used to life at home, and is uncertain about Betty and her brother Elmer in terms of their relationship to me–is actually the one having an outwardly harder time assimilating.
It’s also only Day Two. I think we have some time to get accustomed to one another.
Anyway… there we are, making our way down the sidewalk, when Betty comes alongside Felix and tries to take his hand. Felix yanks his hand back like he’s been scorched.
“No-no!” he scolds.
Betty, undeterred, tries again.
“No-no!” Felix cries. This time tossing a help! look back at me.
I fell terrible. Betty is trying to be affectionate and friendly, and is being rebuffed, not because Felix doesn’t like her, but because he is stubborn fiercely independent and views hand-holding as just another way The Man is trying to keep him down.
I say, “Felix, Betty is just trying to be a good friend. She wants to hold your hand. It’s okay if you don’t want to hold hands, but please say, ‘No, thank you,’ to her instead of shouting.”
Betty, determined wee flirt, tries one last time.
“NO-NO! … thank you,” Felix replies, the thank-you barely audible and fading before it’s even out of his mouth, and runs off down the sidewalk.