Monday, May 24, 2010

We Met Our First Bully

Jackson and I went to a city event at our local park Saturday. The event was called "Cops and Kids" and was designed so that kids could meet some of our local police officers and firemen, check out the equipment, and enjoy free food, drinks and fun.

While we were waiting for the fun to start, Jackson and I headed over to the park to play for a few minutes. We were having such a good time playing while it was still cool outside.

We slid down the pole...

Went down the tire ladder...

Went down the slide...

And just had a good time...

Then it happened.

I watched a little girl, no more than 2 years old, fall from a piece of the equipment. She slammed her head on the ground and since I was right there and no other adults seemed to be near her, I ran over to her to see if she was okay. She was crying and after a second an older man came up to her. I’m not sure if he was a grandfather, or perhaps an older father, but he began speaking to her in a foreign language, but was interspersing English into the conversation. If I had to guess, I would say they were from somewhere in Eastern Europe, because it definitely wasn’t Spanish he was speaking.

Anyways, the man pretty much brushed off the little girl getting hurt and Jackson and I returned to playing. Jackson then climbed up into the playground when I watched a little boy about Jackson’s age come up to Jackson and say, “You can’t come up here because you are a baby!” I quickly perked up, paying very close attention to what was happening and I told Jackson to go on up.

Maybe this is a good time to remind you about how non-confrontational a person Jackson is. He is much more of the “turn around and run” variety than he would ever stand up for himself.

After a second or so, Jackson did decide to go on up and the kid started pushing him backwards so he couldn’t go down the slide. I made a noise and got the kids attention and quickly shot him a, “you better cut it out look” and he backed off. Jackson went down the slide and I went over to him and told him that if that little boy was bothering him that he should tell him to leave him alone and don’t worry about what he said. I could see that Jackson was apprehensive about the situation, and I reminded him that he would absolutely not get in trouble for telling that little boy to back off.

I turned back around and I realized that the foreign man that wasn’t watching the little girl was also there with the bully boy.

Wonderful. I'm dealing with Mr. Attentive.

So Jackson goes back up the playground and the whole thing plays out the same again. Jackson goes up, the boy walks over to him, blocks his way down the slide, and I have to intervene. The whole time this was going on the Dad/Granddad was pretty much ignoring the other little boy’s behavior. He would half-heartedly tell the boy to “play nice” but he wasn’t doing anything about redirecting the boy’s inappropriate bullying behavior.

So once again I pulled Jackson over to the side and told him to tell the boy to leave him alone. Jackson went back up to the slide and the little boy was right there in Jackson’s face immediately. That’s when I had enough. Before I knew it, I was right there beside Jackson and just towering over the little boy. When he tried to tell Jackson that he couldn’t go down the slide Jackson looked up at me and the little boy turned around to find one angry Momma staring down at him. Jackson and I then enjoyed the slide together before heading back to the event at the park.

Now I know that bullying is such a sensitive topic, but what’s a Mom to do when you watch your child get pushed around (figuratively and literally) on the playground? When do you intervene, especially when it seems like the other parent isn’t paying attention or simply doesn’t put a stop to the behavior? I was so bothered by the fact that this kid was no more than 4 years old and was already feeling like he was running the playground and felt that it was okay to push other kids around, including my 3 year old, and that the Dad/Granddad wasn’t wearing his fanny out for showing such a rude attitude to another child.

Now, I’m not a pushover by any stretch, although once upon a time I was. When my backbone finally developed, it grew in strong. I won’t advocate Jackson defending himself physically yet, but I do want him to know that he can tell other people to leave him alone and not fear getting in trouble himself. I want Jackson to know that we will always be there to watch over him, but that he will have to learn to speak up for himself if he is uncomfortable in a situation.

As we were walking away from the park Jackson and I had a quiet moment to talk for a second.

Me: “Jackson, you know that you will never get in trouble for speaking up for yourself, don’t you?”
Jackson: “Yes, Mama. I told that mean boy in the red shirt to leave me alone!”
Me: “You did?”
Jackson: “Yes, ma’am. I told him that 3 times and then I looked up and you were there to help me.”
Me: “I’m so proud of you for telling him to leave you alone. You were such a big boy!”
Jackson: “I know I’m a big boy! And I’m such a nice boy also, not like that mean boy in the red shirt!”
Me: “I love you little man!”
Jackson: “I love you too, Mama!”

So now I know that while Jackson may be shy and bashful at times, he knows right from wrong, and he is willing to speak up for himself when he needs to. At the end of the day I’m so proud to know that I’m raising a truly remarkable, polite and well-mannered child with a heart of gold. It’s going to be a pleasure watching my kind little boy grow into a kind young man, and I’m confident that Jackson knows that we’ve got his back when the bullies in life come along.

And though I definitely want Jackson to continue speaking up for himself, I’m totally willing to go “Mama Bear” on anyone that messes with my kid. Consider yourself warned!

4 random thoughts:

Mom and Nana said...

I am so proud of Jackson -- he is a SUPER kid!!! Jackson told me about that kid at church last night.

P.S. Beware of MAMA BEAR, but extra beware of NANA BEAR. I've got both your backs!!!

Mom said...

Also, I need your camera disk. These are awesome pictures of Jackson. Plus, I need the Mother's Day pictures.

Kay said...

I hate parks and fast food playgrounds. Both are breeding grounds for mean kids and clueless parents. Hate. Them!

I'm glad you're teaching him to stand up for himself, but it does constantly amaze me how mean kids can be at such a young age. Sad!

Tina said...

Amy:

I think you handled it great!

Isn't it terrible to think that kids can be bullies at such a young age?

My grand daughter is in 1st grade and a little girl has been bullying her all year..the little girl told my grand daughter she was going to have her mom kill her.....yes....shocking I know....all the school did was change her color chart and call her parents and the bullying just continued and finally the girl hit my grand daughter. At this point the school moved her to another class.....in school the bully has more rights over the abused. You did great showing your son he didn't have to take that behavior and you are teaching him by example!!!!

BTW little bullies grow up to be adult bullies.....

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