November 18, 2003 - Tuesday
"Do you like me?" Harry asked me that this evening. He asked it in such a way, between other random comments and not with much depth, that it sounded like something of a trial balloon. He's learning about friends and learning about being liked.
Just yesterday, Harry had suggested that his best playmate, Robert, had said that he wasn't Harry's friend. I eventually got Harry to say that Robert didn't really say that, but there's no way to know for sure. It was less than a week ago that Harry had said that one of the other, older Pre-K kids had told Harry that he didn't like him. That was, perhaps, more likely, and I talked to Harry about how it wasn't a nice thing to say and asked him what he felt and what he did. He said he felt sad and that he had walked away. I agreed that it would make one feel sad, but that walking away from someone being nasty like that was often the best thing to do. If I were to take a wild guess, I might say that both of these incidents are made up extensions to more likely experiences Harry has had with one of the younger, newer boys in preschool who is often a source of less mature behavior. And, if so, they are also the result of Harry coming to understand about interpersonal relationships.
I never wrote about a couple other similar, but minor incidents from a month or two ago. On one occasion I had casually asked Harry whether he liked a certain substitute teacher who was filling it at preschool, expected a simple "yes" or "no." But, his answer, something like "no, I don't really like her so much," seemed both more pensive and more aware than I might have thought, as if he had weighed this woman's style and decided it was a little forced and falsely friendly (much as with my assessment of her). On other occasion I asked which of his two regular teachers he liked better. He said Debby. When I asked why he answered that "she has nicer words," accurately hinting at the more direct manner of the other teacher. Neither of those little exchanges is terribly revealing, but they do support this notion that, as a three-year-old, Harry is becoming very aware of personal preferences and, likely, how they go both ways.
I had been walking away toward the kitchen sink when Harry first asked that question. Not sure whether I'd heard it right I asked what he had asked me. He first said the last random thing he said, but then after a second prompt of "no, what question did you ask me a moment ago?" he asked it again.
"Yes, Harry, of course I like you. I love you very much."
He smiled sincerely, but immediately went on talking about his candy.