Adam has been going to the Hill since he was nine weeks old and except for a minor little issue here or there we have never had a problem with him being affected by what others in his class are doing. Like most kids he went through the biting phase. Occasionally he will come home spouting a new potty word. Nothing major though until "Oliver" joined his class.
The first time Adam mentioned Oliver he was referring to the fact that Oliver didn't have any friends because he was mean. Then a couple bruises were blamed on Oliver. This went on for a few weeks and suddenly something changed. Suddenly Oliver was the cool kid in class. The rebel that together with Adam loved to chase the girls and growl like wild dogs. We couldn't help but wonder which was better: Oliver as a friend? or Oliver as an foe?
We did some checking and it seems that Oliver is a foster child and hasn't had the best family life. Without going into great detail I'll just say that Oliver has had a harder life that most 4 yr-olds. With this bit of knowledge in our heads and hearts, Mandy and I tried not to chose Adam's friends for him. Instead we encouraged him to play with all his classmates equally. Making sure to ask how Katie or Ben were doing. Things settled down for a bit, then suddenly last week Adam came home saying that Oliver and him no longer had to listen to teacher. Two days later Adam proclaimed that him and Oliver no longer believed in God and didn't plan on going to Chapel.
Sadly this was the last straw. It was time to put an end to this Oliver business. We told Adam that when it came to Oliver he was to be nice, but he needed to play with other kids. This morning was our first day back since last week's talk concerning who Adam would obey and who he should not follow. As I was dropping Adam's things off (snacks, coat, sleeping bag, sleeping buddy, etc...) I noticed he kept hiding behind me. I also noticed Oliver's foster mom was talking to teacher. After I shook him loose a couple times, the teacher asked the most obvious question at the worst possible time...."What is wrong with you this morning Adam?"
My child never listens to me. I have to tell him 100 times to go to bed at night. 1,000 times to finish his cheeseburger if he wants Gummy Bears so bad. 1 million times to quit making that noise that sounds like the cat is about to throw up. Today he heard me loud and clear. He heard me so well that there at the most inappropriate time, he simultaneously proved that he had heard every word I had ever said since he was born and he that understood all of it by pressing play on his inner tape recorder by quoting "My Mommy and Daddy say I can't play with Oliver anymore" All I could do behind my scarlet face full of embarrassment was try to laugh it off and say "Adam....that's not exactly the what we said". Looking at my watch I sudden realised I was late for work and bolted.