Friday, July 20, 2012

It's Not My Kid- It's Yours.

We finally have a break from the humidity and race-killing hot, humid weather. Thank you, St. Weatherman! Of course, periodic downpours means that going to an outdoor playground or the zoo or the park or any other outdoor activity is pretty much shot. So, what do the kids want to do on days like todays? Mr. B's of course! They love it (clearly, since their birthday party will be there) and, on most days, it's a pretty good place to be. There are days where it is a bit crowded and we only stay half hour or so, but usually, it's good for an hour or two of running the crazy out.

I should have known the moment I pulled into the parking lot and saw how full it was that today was NOT going to be one of those days. Really. I'm at this whole parenting kids thing for a couple of years... I should know better.

Yeah... Apparently not. Because I unload the kids (really- I didnt have a choice. There might have been a mutiny if I'd refused and the songs of laud for how awesome I am and how cool Mr. B's is would have turned into a war chant and the banshie cries of two spitfires ready to draw and quarter me). Off we go in the light drizzle and inside, where I still dont just grab my wits and leave.

Shoes off, kids in, all seems well. I settle onto a chair in the playzone and watch, as best I can with a billion other kids everywhere, my two scamper off. They're having fun. It's all good. After 15 minutes or so, Maya asks if she can play with the toys. I dont love this because it means I need to be in two places at once, but since there is a chair with a perfect view of the playzone, I say okay, and I sit outside the zone, in front of the large glass window, able to watch both kids.

It's noisy and busy; there's a birthday party (THANK YOU for the foresight to NOT book their party during open hours... THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU). A lot of kids everywhere and a lot of parents chatting over coffee. (Not all of them, some were watching their kids, but most? Not so much... This is kind of typical; on many days, I'm the only person in the playzone and if someone gets hurt or upset, I have to go wrangle a parent). A little girl- 10 maybe?- pulls Maya's hair because she doesnt want Maya playing at the kitchen. (HEY! It's a public play area- get over it!) I look around, but no parent is claiming the kid, so I comfort Maya and say in a loud enough voice that pulling hair isnt nice, that we have to respect all kids in a public play area, and that if she wants to play at the kitchen, she's welcome to. And, if her hair gets pulled again, then I'll take care of it. Point across. Maya chooses to play elsewhere.

Maybe 5 minutes goes by and I can see Bobby having fun. He runs across the bridge on level 3 and starts up this balloon/ball type stairway to level 4 (where the slide down is). As he starts up the stairway, these two boys (6-7 years old) start pushing him, like monkey in the middle. Only Bobby doesnt want to play. He says "Stop!" and then, when they dont, he signs "Stop". (At this point, I'm standing and ready to go inside and open the can of whoopass). They dont stop. One of the boys grabs Bobby by the arms (hard enough that his arms were red) and gets into his face, screaming at him. Well, the kid didnt know Bobby, who hauled back and pushed the kid down. Kid #2 grabs Bobby from behind and throws him into the mesh over the bridge/walkway, so that Bobby is overlooking the ground below. 

Did I mention that there were about 10 parents in the room?
Did I mention the two boys were twice Bobby's size (and age)?
Did I mention that can of whoop ass?

Yeah. I'd like to apologize, but I'm not sorry, so I'll save the "I'm sorry" for later. The sound that erupted from my throat- I dont know what it sounded like, but it was enough to silence the entire room. Like pin drop silence. And then, one of the dads says, "Uh-oh", in that whole "Damn, somebody's going to get it" voice.

The words that came out were something like "let him go" and, to his credit, the kid did. Bobby went up the stairs and to the slide. I proceeded to raise my finger and in the same voice instruct the two boys that they were to NEVER, EVER push or hit or grab a child that small. Ever. Again. The one kid ran, the other (the one in question) looked at me with his mouth gaping. Everyone else? Silence.

As I grabbed Bobby and Maya's shoes from the shoe bin, a mother walked in and, I'm guessing, she was the aforementioned child's mother. It's just a guess, but an educated one based on the way she looked at me. What made the moment even more of a "I dont want to kick your kid's ass- I want to kick yours" moment was that this is the mother who was standing behind me, talking to her friend, and not paying attention to her kid in the slightest of ways, and was droning on and on about her son getting expelled from summer school and she not understanding why because he's sooooo perfect and sweet and blahblahblah. You're kidding, right? Expelled from freaking summer school? That monster up there who was trying to put the beatdown on a kid half his size and age? I dont believe it!

Rather than get into a fight (because really, who is that going to help), I returned her stare, grabbed my kids and we left, our dignity still in place.  We went to a local restaraunt, where the kids ate apple slices and drank juice, and played on their indoor equipment while I tried to relax (and not eat the entire menu of food I dont like in the first place).

I'm not pro-fighting. I have an Irish temper and I taught TaeKwonDo for several years; I can fight. But I dont like to. I think that it takes the bigger person (and smarter one) to diffuse a situation and walk away. But, that being said, when someone gets physical with you and you cant diffuse it, then you defend yourself (and cause the least amount of damage you can), and then get on with your life.

That's way easier when you dont have kids that you feel  mamabear instict to protect. I wanted to go up and knock some sense into those two kids. I wanted to take the mom out to the parkinglot and give her a piece of me to take home with her because she's raising a bully.

But I didnt. The voice was enough, and I'm hoping that voice stays with those two enough to realize you dont pick on others (and gives the mom some sort of wake up that her son needs help and parenting,and that bringing your kid to a playground isnt your way of getting a coffee outting).

There's a part of me who wanted to ascertain for sure who the parents of those boys were so that we could have a conversation, but the rational part of me knew that if it did escalate into a fight, that my kids (and every other kid there) would see just another example of adults who cant handle themselves, and, frankly, it just wasnt worth it to me.

Sometimes walking away is the better part of valor.


Amelia said...

Oh my goodness how awful! I think you did just fine and shouldn't have any regrets with how you handled it. I struggle with the fact that I AM a helicopter mom and keep a very close eye on my G where as other parents are a lot less vigilant. I stress over knowing when to intervene or when to let G try to work things out herself. The choice in this case was obvious, thank goodness you were watching.

trennia said...

I am so sorry this happened to Bobby and Maya.I get so frustrated that parents don't watch their children exspecially when there are alot of kids playing there needs to be discipline and watchful parents.What the heck is wrong with parents these days? What if their kids like in your case your children got hurt, or what if their children got hurt? I watch mine and if I see my kids get out of line I act quickly and if one hurts mine I do the same as you "Get Loud" so it draws attention so that maybe the parent will correct their child and if the parent gets pissy...So do I!
You go momma!!!

quadmom said...

Good for you!!! Nothing makes me angrier than bullies -- especially when their moms/dads clearly don't seem to notice/care. That is not right. Poor Bobby! And again, good for you, Michele!

Michelle said...

When I was at school I got bullied and my first reaction was to fight back. So I did, and we both landed detention for a month. When I got home dad told me how proud he was rather than how upset he was. Because no teacher or parent will get to you in time if you were being beatened. Soi agree with you. The world is made up of all sorts of crazy people and crazy children out there and if my kid was being bullied I would tell him to defend himself. Good on you for being there to defend your babies. Sadly you can't always be there when they're at school...

jenicini said...

Holy cow. I think you did a great job handling it!

Catherine W said...

Oh my. Poor Maya and poor, poor little Bobby. Although it sounds as though your kids are pretty good at looking after themselves but I think you did the right thing. Both by intervening when you did and by walking away when you did. And what are this comparatively huge and old kids doing? Picking on little ones like Bobby and Maya? Unbelievable.
Like Amelia I am a helicopter parent, I am the one marching around on the upper floors of the soft play area. In fact, I once got told off by one of the grannies for sliding down the tunnel slide with Jessica when I was fairly pregnant with Reuben!
I'm often surprised by how grouchy my mama bear is when she gets out. It's horrible to see children bully one another, just awful.