Oh, the drama of a playground!
While Justin had his soccer practice last night, Evan and Corinne and I went to the park right next to his field. There were several other children playing and everyone seemed to be having a good time. Until...
Enter teeny weeny bully and accomplice...
Honestly, at the first glance, they appeared quite normal; sneakers, shorts, mops of hair, mostly clean. Both boys were about 5 years old and Evan was honored to be the oldest man on the totem pole. Surrounded by younglings, he took charge of a game of tag.
Anyone with kids knows where this is going, right? Yep. The "tags" became "pushes" and the crying was imminent. The two boys were pushing on top of the playground, making me very nervous. I intervened and told Evan he couldn't play tag anymore because some of the kids were taking it too far. I told him if he got pushed too much, he would push back, and then HE would get into trouble because he was so much older than everyone else.
The kids all began doing random tricks including climbing up the slide while other kids are sliding down the slide. (lovely game) Evan asked if he could take off his shoes like the 2 little boys so that he could climb up the slide as fast as they were.
"Sorry, but no. This is a public park and the mulch has random stuff in it. It could have glass and you'd never know it..."
"But Mommmeeee!! They have their shoes off! They said I'm a loser if I can't climb as fast as them!!" Insert crying here. Evan is extremely dramatic, but doesn't usually make up lies like that. He went on (through tears) describing how he was a loser because they said so and they were making fun of him. He then took it up a notch to,
"You ruin everything! I AM a LOSER! You just want me to be a LOSER!!!"
Ok. I was sympathetic up until this point. At that point, he was sent to the van and we had a lovely conversation (ha) about how you are giving someone else the power to make you feel bad simply by reacting to their words. Blah, blah, blah. All that motherly stuff you're supposed to say but kids never really understand (and really? I don't either. Words DO hurt...) We also got to talk about how he IS NOT ALLOWED to talk to me like that. Again. I am becoming a pro at THAT conversation!
Meanwhile, my angel in pigtail braids had been climbing the jungle gym with the other children. In the midst of calming Evan down with a Junie B. book, I hear her crying hysterically at the top of the playground. I dashed outside, but realized she wasn't hurt as she ran to me.
"They said I was a BABY! Those boys! Those mean boys kept calling me a BABY!!"
The ultimate slam against a 3 1/2 year old is to call her a BABY. She is a big girl, thankyouverymuch.
"ARE you a baby?"
"Then you just tell them 'If you say so. I know I'm NOT a baby.' and don't play with them anymore."
Oh, the horror! She was devastated and would not return to the park. We all retreated into the van for cuddles and more conversations about how words DO hurt so we shouldn't talk that way to other people. We continued with the Junie B. book and waited for Justin to finish practice.
Here's where a funny twist came into play.
I never realized that my windows were open and so were the windows of all 3 cars in the row. Basically, everyone in every car heard my kids' cries and our conversations (in addition to my rendition of Junie B. yelling from a school bus... Yay.) I finally noticed all of the openness when the mother in the car beside me yelled for her son. (not one of the bullies)
"Get over here! I saw you pushing him. You are done for the night. Get in the car!" Her little boy was actually nice, but he was pushing one of the bully boys, probably because they had been annoying and mean for the past 45 minutes.
The father in the car next to hers leaned out his window to join in her reprimanding of her son:
"That's my son he was pushing. I just don't understand it! Kids are always gravitating to him, pushing him, and hitting him. I don't know why! He's just the nicest kid in the world!!" He went on and on, repeating the same line.
I actually had to stop myself from getting out of the car. I had witnessed these boys not only calling everyone on the playground names and telling each other to "shut up" and "you can't play with us!" to pushing kids down the slide, throwing one kid's flip flops, and just random, mean playground stuff. AND his dad had to have heard my own kids' sad cries, including the conversations we had.
And his dad was oblivious.
I know my own kids have their faults. I won't list them here. Trust me when I say my kids aren't perfect and were this not a permanent record of their actions, I would list their pros and cons. But I hope that I am never so unobservant that I wouldn't think that they could possibly have a legitimate part in a fight!
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