|Photos courtesy of Aunt Texas|
|SI atop the tallest slide|
So when Aunt Texas (I gave you a blog name!) asked to come by and play with the girls and her new camera, I said YES PLEASE!
So we went to the playground. Aunt Texas took all sorts of wonderful photographs of my children, who behaved mostly like angels.
|DD on the big girl swing|
There are always bullies at the playground. In any age group, in any number of children. I don't exactly know why that is, but you can bet that one kid is going to throw their weight around and generally be a jerk to the other kids. And, I'm sorry to say, the last time we had gone to a playground, that bully was DD.
Normally, the only other kid around for her to play with is SI, and she and SI have their own dynamic. It's not so much that DD bullies her as that DD resorts to physical shows of strength more often. We find ourselves needing to put DD in time out for hitting her sister, while SI would rather manipulate her parents through lies and deception to get what she wants. Or, just a simple round of high pitched caterwauling.
|SI on the big girl swing|
It sucked. But that wasn't a problem at the playground last weekend.
There were four or five other kids at the playground that afternoon. One of them, a little boy probably just a bit older than my kids, decided that DD was a problem, his personal problem. He followed her, yanking away any toy she might pick up. Pushing past her to get on the slide. Pushing her away- at least once I was afraid he would actually push her off of the ten foot high play structure. His mom was busy hanging out with another mom- she couldn't care less.
And DD? She was obviously confused. Not quite hurt, but very confused.
|DD at the bottom of the little slide|
And that little boy wasn't alone in targeting DD.
The oldest child on the playground was a girl, easily two years older than DD, if not more so. And she took it upon herself to actually taunt my child. She would block her path to the slide, mocking her verbally while contorting her body back and forth to keep DD away from sliding back down to the ground. Every once in a while DD would look at me in confusion and fear, a, "What do I do now?" kind of look.
When she did this, I would loudly and firmly tell her, "Go ahead to the slide, it's your turn," in a tone of authority. The other child inevitably let her through, temporarily reminded that there was an adult who was watching and had some sort of authority to do something. But I have no authority over other children.
|SI- my little monkey|
Don't get me wrong, I did want to. I did want to storm over to that kids' dad, tell him his daughter was being a gigantic asshole and that he needed to teach her some damn manners and common courtesy. But I didn't.
Because it is so much more important that DD learn a few things about life.
Like that it sucks when people are mean to you.
Like that people WILL be mean to you, for absolutely no reason, just because they can.
|Riding a pony|
What feels like an improbably long time ago, I wrote that I would rather have my kid be bullied that be a bully.
I was right. Watching DD get teased and occasionally pushed, my heart broke for her. I didn't want my child to experience a moment of pain, a moment of fear. But that is life. And I firmly believe that it is so much better that she learn to live with the hardships of being occasionally victimized by her peers than that she learn to be a bully. Than that she learn that she is entitled to simply take what she wants, to simply behave in whatever manner entertains her.
Like all mothers, most likely, I believe my children are angels. But I was once a child. I know it's a lie. I know that other children are mostly monsters.
I would rather that my children learn to cope with the monsters in their classes, at the park, and even in their family than that I would ever find out that my children are tormenting some other mother's angels.
I understand helicopter parents. There is a pain in watching something bad happen to your kid, however minor it might be, and feeling that you are helpless to stop it.
|SI and DD playing at the playground|
Children need to learn. They need to learn that life isn't a happy song where everybody loves you. Not most of the time. Life is... life. And I do my kids no favors by protecting them from it. I hate that part of me has become the "it builds character" stereotype of parenthood. But this is what growing up is about.
Growing up is painful. Childhood is painful.
But childhood is also wonderful, in that children live in this magical temporal state where it doesn't really matter what happened ten minutes ago, right now is fantastic. And it doesn't matter how wonderful things were ten minutes ago if right now is awful.
|DD loves the swings|
I hate that DD was bullied at the playground. I hate that someday, something much worse is going to happen to her. I hate myself for knowing in advance that, in many cases, I will do nothing to stop it.
What I will do is hug her, and tell her that it's all going to be okay, and that any time at all that she needs me I am here. That I love her. That I can't stop other kids from being awful. But that she is an angel. She is wonderful. She has nothing to apologize for when she is made a target.
I will protect her from what I can, which I hope is any feelings that she might actually deserve to be treated poorly.
And if the bullying ever gets bad, ever gets to the point that it was when I was a child and I was breaking under the strain of constant torment, I will beg her to tell me, and I will try everything I can to ease her burden.
But I cannot eliminate it.
|SI's faraway look|
I know how to teach a child to live with the unkindness in the world. I have been that child.
I have no idea how to teach a child who bullies others how to stop. I have absolutely no context.
But my heart already breaks for her.
And I wish we lived in a world where the lessons of being bullied weren't so damn important to learn.
|I wish I could solve everything with a chocolate milk break.|