I posted to someone else's blog that hell is other people. I think I'm gonna amend that. Hell is other people's kids.
Emily met her first bully this week. At McDonald's Play Place. She took it in stride, but I've talked about this all week and it still bothers me. Emily, I'm sure, has already forgotten.
There were only a few children at the playground when we went and they were all toddlers. Emily was probably the second youngest and the second smallest kid there. The oldest boy there had to be about two, maybe slightly older. His mother and her friend spent a good portion of the time calling out that he needed to calm down. He did need too, but it wasn't that bad.
In the toddler area they had some soft toys that looked like turtles and ladybugs. Emily loved these, but they were slightly bigger than she was ready for so she was taking her time inspecting how to climb up and ride them. Once she figured it out and went to try the older boy came over, shoved her off, and jumped on. This is where I'm proud of Emily - she just went onto the other. Again, the older boy ran over, shoved her off, and jumped on. They did this for a few rounds before Emily finally ran over to me with the most confused look on her face. After some assurance Emily was off again. And the same thing happened, over and over. First with the turtles, then the slide, the steps, the little houses, the toys, everything. The older boy even felt the need to shut the door to the toddler area and not let anyone in or out despite much pulling and screaming. Emily never got to whining or crying, but the other children did. The last straw was when Emily was playing in a house and the boy ran over, knocked her on the ground, then kicked - kicked - her by her stomach out of the house and onto the play mat. Emily ran over (still not crying) and I scooped her up and whisked her away. We left right after that. Emily might not have been bothered, but Mommy was freaked.
The thing that really bothered me was the complete lack of reaction by this boy's mother. Part of me wants to vent and holler that she didn't do anything. The other part of me wants to not be a judgmental bitch and try to acknowledge that she was probably tired, has to take care of a very active (possibly overactive) child all the time, and maybe this wasn't really bad behavior for him. Maybe she needed to pick her battles. I only saw him for an hour I can't judge what was the best thing to do for him.
I can judge what was best for Emily though and that made me want to make a big deal of pushing and hitting and kicking. I wanted to holler and tsk and be very upset so that Emily would get the idea that behavior like that is totally unacceptable. Because in my little world it is. But it wasn't my little world and it wasn't my little kid. So I resorted to the typical Hawaii-style commentary and pointedly looked at his mother while I said to Emily "That boy plays too rough, what a meany-head." She, in typical Hawaii-style, rolled her eyes. Auwe!
The real bad part about this run in with a bully is that I'm totally worried Emily is going to emulate him. Now, when she plays, I am always watching for some sign of bullishness that I need to nip in the bud quick. Instead of seeing my sweet girl going to play with another kid in the totally unaware-of-personal-space way toddlers play I see her drop-kicking her new friend into the parking lot. That sucks. It's not fair to Emily. It's not fair she had to leave cause someone else was too aggressive and it's not fair that her mother is now certain she's gonna try these new play tactics soon. She deserves the benefit of the doubt. And a safe playground.
And I blame all this on other people - and their kids! (And, okay, maybe some of my own neurosis.)