Monday, September 13, 2010

Bullies in the Park

I've seen a few bratty kids in my time. Not many. I tend not to hang around people with bratty kids since they drive me nuts. I'm not someone who gets confrontational very easily... unless you hit on topics that I really feel passionately about. But if you mess with my kid, you mess with me.

Today, I took Ada and Iain to a neighborhood park and met up with another mom friend and her two daughters. We arrived to the playground first and I released Ada from the stroller to go play. She's not shy so she instantly went to find some new friends. I didn't even have Iain unhooked from the Ergo carrier when she was back at my side wearing her "They are being mean to me face." She looked scared and was crying, very atypical for Ada. Not knowing what was going on and wondering if another kid had hit her, I carried Iain over to the climbing equipment while holding Ada's had and saying, "It's alright. There's nothing to be afraid of." As it turns out, there was something for her to be afraid of. Three boys, probably about a year older than Ada, had taken ownership of the jungle gym and weren't letting her climb on it. I encouraged her to go up the steps and they told her she couldn't. That was their second mistake. I looked at them and explained how they weren't being nice, their behavior wasn't appropriate for the park, and that they needed to share the equipment with all of the kids. Two of the boys gave me dirty looks and said, "We don't have to listen to you!" And I gave them an even dirtier look and said, "Well if you don't want to listen to me, you can point me in the direction of your parent or caretaker and I'll take the issue up with them. But you will not bully my daughter." I got interesting looks from two nannies on the playground. They seemed to be looks of support but I wasn't quite sure since I didn't know who was in charge of the kids I was reprimanding. After the boys got mouthy with me, I steered Ada over to the other jungle gym and then convinced her to have a snack until our friends arrived. As I was telling the story to my friend, she mentioned that she had heard that same complaint about those boys from other moms and was wondering if she could find out who the parents were and if that would even help. There are plenty of other parks in the city, but we shouldn't be bullied out of one by a couple of four-year-olds. That just seems ridiculous.

Apparently, I made an impression on the boys since my friend caught them watching me from atop the climbing equipment. Even their best stink eye couldn't scare me. I learned dirty looks from the dirty look champion of the universe. My father is master of the dirty look and frequently used it to intimidate me, my friends, all of the kids at our school (he was superintendent of the school district), and especially my boyfriends. Who needs a shotgun when you have his arsenal of dirty looks? I'm not the master that he is, but I'd like to think I've been an understudy long enough to have a few dirty looks of my own. Those boys just better hope they don't cross me again anytime soon. And if they do, I have no problem standing up to their nannies or their parents if it comes to that. As a parent, they should be embarrassed by their kid's behavior. I know I would be.

Moral of the story: Part of parenting is setting a good example for your children. Be a good role model by standing up for what you believe in, even if it might not be the popular or easy way to go.

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