Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The nicest kid in the world, eh?

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.

"Oh, okay."

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!


Leah said...

Unfortunately some parents just do not spend any time with their children to see the faults. I think my big mouth would have said something loud enough for Bully Dad to hear.

Dana said...

That's too bad that you had such a crummy experience. It's hard to be a kid....

My kids ARE bullies. Sadly. I am constantly reprimanding them and pulling them off playgrounds. I am so NOT ok with it and they know it. Why they continue to do it? Well, I have my ideas but that's a story for a different day.

Lis Garrett said...

Oh Tracey, you are a much better mother than I am. I would have been nice about it, but I certainly would have said something to the father of those two boys.

I realize there will be pushes and shoves at a playground - everyone gets riled up. But no way in heck would I put up with my own kids' intentional name-calling and physical brute. It's one thing if parents recognize this in their kids and attempt to correct the behavior, but it's another when they are clueless about it.

Babe in Babeland said...

Wow, I think you handled that so well...good for you! There are some really oblivious parents and people out there!! But refreshing to see there are still some good moms out there. Kudos to you!

Kat said...

Oh sheesh! Maybe if the dad would get out of the car and WATCH his son playing on the playground he wouldn't be so oblivious. I can't STAND it when I go to the playground with my boys and have to police other children because the parents aren't watching. Drives me nuts! I will NOT let my boys treat other kids with disrespect and I won't let any other kids do it either. I know some people have a problem with this, but I will not watch other kids be mistreated. It really does take a village to raise a child in my mind.
When I was a kid adults didn't hesitate to step in and repremand us if we did something wrong. That is how it should be. You should be held accountable for your actions whether or not your parents are watching.

Sounds like you gave your kids very good advice too. Well done.

Tonya said...

Good thing it wasn't me in your situation because I would of said something to the dad and put him in his place. The poor other mom must have felt horrible but at the same time why was she sitting in the car and not at the park with him? Sorry that you had to deal with that playground junk.

Cynthia said...

What a complete bummer:( I hate this sort of thing. With me, replace the dad with a nanny, who doesn't care one bit how miserable the child is being:P

Kristi said...

Ugh. I cannot STAND parents like this. Their children are always the wronged parties and everyone is out to get them. You handled yourself very well with your kids.

sheila said...

Well that 'father' sounds like a complete ass. Jerk. That's part of what's wrong with the world today.

the mama bird diaries said...

some parents are so CLUELESS!!!

Zip n Tizzy said...

My littlest has a fighting nature, and thrives on the adreneline of a good tussle. Sometimes, he comes across a group of kids who are right on the same wavelength and they all chase and wrestle, but like you, I step in when things become too rough, and I will never let him play that way with kids who are intimidated by rough-housing.

I don't tolerate mean behaviour. If he's mean, for whatever reason, I make him tell the other child that what he was doing was scary and apologise and ask if they'll forgive him and be his friend if he promises not do it again. Sometimes the other parent will say that it's o.k. that their kid was doing the same thing, but, I want him to know that no matter what anyone is doing, it's not o.k. to make someone feel scared or hurt, particullarly when what you want is for someone to be your friend.

As for the dad in the parking lot, it's just sad. His kids are already suffering from his lack of attentiveness.

cookingschoolconfidential.comw said...

I was annoyed by some students in school today and reading your post, I was thinking, things never change.

(I'm a student at culinary school, for heaven's sake!)


Sophie, Inzaburbs said...

I struggle with this too. Some people just can't see past the end of their own nose.

Oz said...

I am just amazed at that father's cluelessness. Wow.

Christina said...

At least the one mom wised up and punished her kid for bullying. Too bad the dad was clueless. Some people think their kids can do no wrong.

The guy was probably busy reading or otherwise preoccupied and not paying attention to what his kid was doing.

We deal with bullies far too often, and I wish there was a polite way to call out the parents who ignore them.

Jeni said...

How I dread the days of the playground bullies to come. I am pretty sure my kiddo will end up the target. Sounds like you handled the situation well though.

Michelle said...

oh my goodness I can't believe those were 5 yr olds acting like that! Do they really start bullying like that at such a young age? I guess I'm naive thinking they were still relatively 'innocent' at 5!

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