That time I should’ve...

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Call me sensitive, but I’m already hyper aware of bullying when it comes to playground play time – and my daughter is only three. 
I’m dreading the years ahead of mean girls (and boys) and it’s my personal mission to ensure my kids never become one of them. As a kid who experienced plenty of bullying, it’s like my biggest anxiety as a parent, especially as a parent of a little girl in the world we live in now with social media.

And seeing as though bullying starts as early as the playground with little toddlers, I better get some thicker skin or else it’s going to be a very long life.

I can’t help but notice the little early bullying nuances on the playground though; the bossy four year old setting the tone for the playground atmosphere, or the alpha five year old that excludes kids from their little game of tag. I watch as my daughter joyously runs into the play gym and cringe when I notice she has become a target of a mean kid’s antics.

In my experience with bullies on the playground thus far, the mean kid usually gets away with being the mean kid because mom/dad is either on their phone or chatting away with a friend completely oblivious to their little a-hole’s behavior.

I mean, I get on my phone too when the kids are playing, but I try to always have at least one eye on my kids to ensure no monkey business is happening.

I am by no means a helicopter parent. I sit back and let my three year old and even my 17 month old deal with typical childish behaviors from fellow playmates. I want them to learn how to navigate this kind of stuff and be able to fend for themselves because I won’t always be there to rescue them.

I don’t want to be that mom that yells at someone else’s kid for being mean or not sharing. It makes me uncomfortable getting stern with another kid, especially if their parent is within ear/eye shot. But in the few times I have had to step in to rescue my kid from hurt feelings or hurt limbs, I wish that I was better at giving a good level-headed talk to the perpetrator, like where they’re all; “Oh ya, I was totally super mean and I shouldn’t do that again to another kid!" A teaching moment!


But no, I have not given thought provoking speeches or high five worthy scoldings to the meanest of kids. I’ve spewed garbled simplistic phrases like “that’s not nice” as I’ve whisked my kid away, all flustered.

Slow clap it out for sharp tongue lashing skills. I’ve just struck fear in no one on that playground.

The evil girl

The other day there was a situation that occurred at the play gym that I felt was outside of the ordinary childish behavior and I did step in and address the mean kid. My daughter had come into the play area and immediately befriended another little girl of the same age and they were climbing and sliding and having a good time. I noticed there was an older girl in the gym, probably 6 or 7, and she seemed to be whispering and pointing in my daughter’s direction. My ears perked up and I overheard her telling her little minions that had come under her influence that my daughter is “evil.”

EVIL.

Then she was blatantly pointing at Annabelle and saying “the girl in the flower dress is evil, don’t let her play with us.”

The little girl that Annabelle had befriended came up to her shortly after and asked what Annabelle’s name was, followed by “Are you evil?”

I’m livid.

What in the HELL is happening here? Thank God Annabelle probably didn’t know what the word evil meant so she just sort of ignored the question. This is where the phrase “ignorance is bliss” comes from.

I didn’t step in then as I chose to watch some more and see what may follow, namely because Annabelle was playing, unbothered.

Then I saw her pulling a few other kids over to a corner and directing the kids to not play with the evil girl in the flower dress.

I charged toward the little girl and got at her level and said – wait for it – “That is not very nice, you need to stop saying that right now she is a nice girl.” She said; “OK” with big round eyes and I returned to my seat.

I know, I totally told her off.

The little girl tried to be nice to me after that and it frustrated me that my son kept going up to her and hugging her legs. She’d laugh and say “ha ha, your baby loves me!”

All the while I’m giving my son major side eye and mumbling trader under my breath.

But wait, mean girl wasn’t done. Maybe 10 minutes later I look up and see the girl at the top of the play structure pointing down at my daughter and mouthing the word “evil” AGAIN!!! I got her attention and mouthed STOP IT NOW with huge scary eyes and she mouthed OK.

From there I grabbed Annabelle and Leo and said LET’S GO, as I stormed passed her oblivious mother.

Later that night as I told my husband about it he was upset, saying I should’ve said something to the mom and I agreed. I regretted that I didn’t speak up but I felt uncomfortable confronting another mother who may take the defensive stance rather than use it as a teaching moment for her daughter.

I decided that going forward, I’m not going to let fear of confrontation hinder me from approaching a parent if it seems necessary in my gut. I will first address the child in the moment and make it a point to clearly articulate on their level that the behavior is not appropriate. If it continues or it’s appalling enough to begin with, I will alert the parent.

I will do my best to not be overly sensitive
about things, but I believe bullying continues because the bullies often times don’t get caught in the act and parents aren’t aware of their kid’s bullying ways. 



So from now on, if I catch the mean kid in the act, I’m going to say something and make it count. And I’m really going to try and dig deeper and find a better line than “that’s not nice.” 


Surely I can do better than that!
These days I’m a stay at home mom waffling with the decision to keep being a SAHM or go back to work. I’m straddling the fence so much it’s beginning to chafe. Ow! I mean, really, I just want to go back to work and make a brag-worthy paycheck, wear super cute clothes, say smart things, and go to Mexican for lunch with my co-workers. The problem with this is that I don’t want to actually go to work or wake up before 7:00am. Annnd I’ll be sad to leave my little guy in daycare about the time when he starts walking and talking a little. That’s when he will become more fun! So for now I’m just a SAHM enjoying time with my 3 year old daughter Annabelle, and my little man Leo who is the cutest, smiliest baby boy in all the land. FACEBOOK | TWITTER | BLOG

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