Today I can’t help but talk about what happened at the park with my daughter Maggie Mae. It is a concern that every parent has at one point , what do you do when your child is confronted by a bully? I remember when I was a little boy there were a few times someone tried to ‘pick’ on me . Having grown up with 3 brothers I was very used to rough housing and asserting myself accordingly. I think because I didn’t process that I was being bullied there was no emotional damage done. Instead I got in trouble for fighting, sent to the office or sent home ..and that was that! When my father asked me what happened I told him that ‘ he started it’ this was ok for my dad, and I think he got some pride in knowing I could defend myself.
However, that was then and this is now. I like to think I’ve changed as a person and don’t condone violence as a solution to anything. It always makes a situation worse. But today has made me question this somewhat . Today was the saddest and scariest moment I have ever had to deal with while out with my daughter. Today was a day when you realize not everyone is nice , and more over when my daughter realized the same thing .
I was talking to another parent from the other side of a 5 foot fence as I watched my daughter playing with another small girl. Laughing and smiling she was blissfully unaware of what was to happen next.
What happened next was two boys about 7 years older than my daughter walked over to the girls, (and to be honest they had bad intentions the whole time , but I let it go ), even as they said ‘ hey no babies allowed in here’ I decided to let it unfold trusting that these two children would just move on. However, in a matter of seconds it escalated and this one child had my 2.5 year old pinned to the fence with his hockey stick . He ‘the ringleader’ started calling her names and wouldn’t let her move past him , I was in shock! what made it worse was Maggie Mae had a look of pure terror and confusion on her face. One minute she was so happy now fighting back tears trying to process what was going on .
I can honestly say I jumped that fence with a single bound , and covered the 15 feet of ground like I was at least 10 years younger. When I got about 3 feet away I saw Maggie Mae look past them and lock eyes with me and she had this ‘ help me look ‘ in her eyes. I wanted to grab this kid by the scruff of his neck and throw him to the ground. But instead cooler heads prevailed. As I got there his compadre bolted leaving this bully to deal with me alone. I looked at him and said what’s your name? , how old are you? , his lip started to tremble as he answered. I looked at him again and said ‘your bigger than her and your scaring her, and it isn’t nice’. He was still looking at me , his lip still trembling , and I leaned in and said ‘ I’m bigger than you, and how does it feel to have me in your face?’ He looked at me put his head down and said ‘ not nice’ ‘ exactly ‘ I said back now apologize. He did!
The reason I’m writing this is not only to get it off my chest, but to help internalize why someone would want to do something like this. What makes a child a bully? What makes people treat others like they often do? Is it how they were raised ? Or is it just nature at its worst? Regardless I guess what I need to figure out is what to do about it. How do you prepare your children to deal with this.. Can you ? I won’t always be there .. At some point she will be on her own with no one around to help . This is not a question to be answered today obviously but I wanted to get the discussion going . I want to get feedback on what you have tried , or have found in your own lives, with your own children. Please feel free to comment .