Thursday, September 20, 2012
This afternoon, G and I headed out for a quick jaunt to our closest playground, the one at the library. It was the scene of G's first encounter with a bully. There were several other kids there, mostly older toddlers or pre-schoolers. One set was a mom with a baby in a carrier and her three year old son. Another set involved a grandfather with a 4-5 year old boy and a 3 year old girl.
I started talking with the mom after our boys collided accidentally. No one was hurt, and they both went back to playing pretty quickly. While G was playing, I noticed every once in a while the grandfather would try to instruct one of the two kids he was with. He would say things like, "Don't climb up the slide because that kid wants to come down" or "stop running into the road." For the most part, his two grandchildren ignored him. Most of the time, they laughed at his meager attempts at discipline and ran off.
At one point, I noticed the grandfather's little girl try to pick a fight with the mom's little boy. She shoved him, and the mom separated them. She shoved him again, and he went to shove back, so the mom separated them and herded the boy off to another area to get away from her.
G decided he wanted to go down the curly cue slide. He sat down and got himself all prepped to push off when the little girl came up behind him. She sat down behind G and started pushing, yelling at him to move out of the way. After a moment of that, he started getting upset and just wanted to abort the attempt to slide, but she kept on pushing and yelling. I was standing below them, on the ground, and she was watching me. I told her to stop pushing him. She looked at me, raised her hands, and pushed some more. I told her again, and she lifted her feet, and while watching me, kicked him hard in the back. I rushed to the nearest stairs and climbed up, but by the time I got there, G had run off, upset.
Soon after that, the little girl ran after the mom's son who she had shoved earlier. She pushed him hard, and the mom immediately stepped over, saying that was unacceptable. The girl continued, chasing the boy around the playground and pushing him repeatedly. The boy was crying and yelling, "No, stop!" over and over, but the girl ignored him. The mom called over to the grandfather to do something, saying the girl would not leave her son alone. He verbally reprimanded the girl without even going over to her.
I went onto the platforms to follow G around, and when he ran down one area, the little girl followed. I hurried after him, but I was too late. The girl shoved him hard in the chest and down he went. He sat up, looking at her like she was crazy, and started crying. At that point, I was pissed. I yelled at the girl, who was still putting hands on my son, to go away and leave him alone.
I picked G up as the grandfather walked over, and I just lost it. I said, "She is going around pushing other kids and being very mean. You need to do something other than just standing around. Our kids can't even play!" He didn't even reply. He just stood there looking bewildered.
It took a while to calm G down, and by then, his nerves were shot. He just wanted to go home. He signed for water and pointed at the car, so we headed out. In the parking lot, I met up with the other mom who had also been chased off by the crazy child. Neither of us could understand why the grandfather would just stand there and allow these children to terrorize others. It's not like he wasn't paying attention; he was constantly following them around, verbally trying to instruct them to get of the road and leave other children alone. At one point, he even said they were leaving, but of course he did nothing to make that happen.
I understand that, being a grandparent, this man really might not have known what to do with these kids. Maybe he doesn't watch them often. Maybe they're so out of control that he just doesn't have a clue what to do. But when your child is hurting other children on the playground, you need to physically step in and remove that child. He had two moms complain that the little girl was shoving others, but he just stood there and did nothing.
Frankly, it was just lazy parenting. He didn't want to have to go in and stop them from doing anything. And he was too lazy and ignorant about the whole situation to pack up the kids and leave. What will that three year old be like if you allow her to hurt other people now? It's really not that hard to follow up on your threats, people.
All I know is, as we pulled out of the parking lot, they were still playing there without a care in the world.
Monday, September 17, 2012
How cute is this pic of G with his two grandmas? Totally cute. My mom on the left and Dave's mom on the right.
My mom came into town Friday night to watch G while we had our yard sale Saturday. We had been collecting other people's stuff for weeks, ever since we discovered that our insurance will not cover any of our maternal/fetal specialist's doctor visits, ultrasounds, or lab work. We plan on fighting our insurance in whatever way we can, but even if they do cave in and cover these items, we're still looking at bare minimum of $10,000 for our next baby. Assuming we can carry to term, anyway.
We were so lucky to get tons of donations for our yard sale. While we didn't have as big of a turn-out as we were hoping, we actually sold a ton of stuff! In fact, we sold $600 worth! We donated our leftovers to Goodwill while keeping what we think we can sell on eBay or Craigslist.
I'm so grateful that our yard sale was such a success. We spent a lot of time sorting through items, placing prices, and of course, hauling everything outside and setting up. G got to spend some much-wanted time with my mom who he doesn't get to see very often. And we got to cover a month's worth of doctor's bills! Woo!
(As a side note, if anyone knows if blood clotting disorders are covered under the "pregnancy complications" of insurance, do let me know. We're gearing up to fight our insurance since it's not listed either way on our explanation of benefits. We don't have a maternity rider as our insurance company doesn't offer one. Also, when I spoke to someone from my insurance company, all she would say is that they couldn't theorize on covered benefits until it actually happened because it depended upon the physician who reviewed my claims. Uh-huh.)
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
On Monday, G and I returned to the playground where he was bullied last week.
A group of kids were already playing there, most of them at least a few years older than him. They seemed to know each other, as did their moms, so I wondered if they were all brothers or cousins. As soon as G approached, one of them came near, asking if G wanted to be his superhero side-kick. It was cute, but G is way too young to have any idea what that means. When G ran off to play, the kid followed, making pew-pew gun noises.
Of course, it freaked G out. The kid was loud and jumping around G, and my poor child had no idea why another kid was targeting him. G, almost crying, ran over to me and clung to my leg. I bent down, trying to explain that the other kid was being nice and only wanted to play. When the other kid persisted, though, I told him that G was too little.
It didn't really help that a few minutes later, one of the oldest of the group accidentally knocked G over. Once he calmed down from crying, he was on high alert. One of the group pushed a hand into his chest, saying, "Tag, you're it!" G was having none of it. I finally just told all of them in the nicest way possible to bug off and leave G alone. One of them even asked me, "What's wrong with him?" as though it's G's fault that he hasn't had the best experiences with older kids.
But after a while, G had had enough. When three of the kids came over to him, trying to see if he wanted to play, he yelled, "NO!" G doesn't say no very often, only when he means it. Usually it's said in a way that's joking, like "ooooh, noooo." The boys backed off after that, and we didn't have anymore problems.
I was so proud of G. I swear I felt my mama heart swell with pride. He didn't want to play with the other kids, and he told them the best way he could with his limited vocabulary. I can't wait to tell his speech therapist on Friday what he did. Using a word for actual communication is a huge step forward for G. He didn't have to stomp his feet, push his way through, grunt, act angry. He just said, "NO," and that was that!
Monday, September 3, 2012
To enjoy the break in the slight drizzle outside, G and I headed to one of our favorite playgrounds at our local library. We go here probably at least once a week because it's so close and easy to pop in and out. Plus, G loves this playground. It has wide, open walkways where he can run in a large circle, many slides, and several different sets of stairs. Really, if the place had some swings, it would be perfect.
When we arrived, a father and son were playing with some toy (a slingshot, maybe?) in the empty parking lot. G proceeded to do his thing, screaming happily and running in circles. I tried to engage him in a game of tic-tac-toe, but he became distracted by the boy walking into the playground area. His dad stayed in the parking lot, playing on his phone. The boy seemed to be about four years old, about a head taller than G. He said "hi" to G, and I asked G to say "hi" back - of course, G only waved. He's starting to notice other kids more and more, so he watched the other boy for a bit.
At one point, the boy jabbed a finger into G's chest. Now that I think about it, it was probably to move G away from the top of a small set of stairs that G was standing nearby. G looked at me and back at the kid and back at me, like what was his problem, mom? G didn't seem hurt, so I told him it was okay, to go ahead and keep playing.
The boy went down the set of stairs, and G wanted to follow. G headed down a few steps before the boy rushed back, telling G, "You can't go down these stairs. No stairs. No slides. You can't get on the ground." He said this over and over.
I thought, okay, we've dealt with this before. Some kids get possessive over certain parts of the playground. I told G he could go down the stairs if he wanted. But there were other steps to use to get down as well. I pointed him toward another set, but he felt like being a little stubborn and standing his ground. I wasn't about to discourage him; G is notorious to giving up ground to any kid who even walks past him, so the fact that he wasn't running away was a huge step in the right direction.
I told G to just wait his turn and let the boy get off the stairs first. The boy did, but again, as soon as G tried to go down, the boy would rush back and yell at Grayson. At this point, I was encouraging G to just use another set of stairs and he decided to agree. G started to walk off, but the boy followed, still talking about what G could and couldn't do. He was getting right up in G's face, and G was really started to get unnerved by this boy. I told the boy, "You need to leave my kid alone."
The boy started to stomp close to G's feet like he was trying to hurt him. He was grunting, swinging his arms around, trying to intimidate G. I put my hand up, saying, "Do not touch my kid. If you touch my kid, I will not hesitate to push you away." He continued to stomp and make threatening gestures at my son.
I looked for his father who was oblivious and called over to him. "Sir, you need to come talk to your son. He is bothering my kid."
The man started walking over. "What's he doing?"
"He's not letting my son play. He's being a bully." Yeah, I used the b-word. But it was true. It was bully behavior.
The man looked at his son, who had backed off. "If you can't play nice, we're going to leave." His kid started whining and saying he hadn't done anything. When G tried to go down the stairs again, the boy immediately tried to prevent him from going down. His father (I'm assuming here) stopped him, saying, "Okay, we're going home." The kid took off, yelling. The man said, "Come get your shoe." It was on the steps and he was too large to get it; I actually went and got it for him, eager for the kid to go.
This continued for a while, with the father telling his kid to do something, and his son repeatedly whining and saying no. Once, the kid ran off saying "Don't hit me, don't hit me!" and the father replied, "I won't if you leave the other boy alone." The father eventually gave up, though he did hover nearby on the ground, finally keeping an eye on his son.
G relaxed and began to run in circles along the top platforms. The boy began to chase him, following about half a circle behind but slowly catching up. G would notice and start running faster, trying to get away from him. When G would run over to me, the boy would stop and yell at G to keep running. OMG, seriously!
After a few rounds, G got upset, making the noises he makes when he's scared. He didn't cry, but man, he was close. He came over and clung to my leg, staring at the other boy like he was psycho. I told the boy, "Leave him alone. You are scaring him." His father came over to say basically the same thing and demand that they leave. Of course, the kid refused.
At that point, I held G close to me. Either we were going to leave, or they were. The father eventually managed to catch his kid, hoisting him over his shoulder and carrying him back to the car. The kid screamed bloody murder the entire time he was being strapped into his carseat, and I could hear him still screaming as they drove out of the parking lot and onto the main rode.
Why are some kids this horrible? The boy couldn't have been older than 5 at most, and he was probably more like 4. We've met some pushy kids before, including two I've had to physically block from touching G. But this is the first time I've come across an actual bully. It was like he smelled blood in the water, and as a shark, he was compelled to circle. Or maybe something about G just screamed easy victim. Or maybe he was bored and G was the only other kid around. While his father tried to control his kid, he was mostly ineffective. Following through with your threats when you first make them is kinda Parenting 101. I can't help but blame the parent for at least part of the kid's behavior.
I wasn't sure how to get G to handle it. I've always told him, "Do what you want. Take turns, but don't let someone push you off your toy." But he's just passive that way. At the mall that morning, he asked to leave the play area after some more kids arrived because he couldn't be assertive enough to use the slide. Being passive is just part of G - it's a large reason as to why he hasn't started talking much yet. It's part of his kind and gentle nature.
I don't want my kid to be bullied because he can't stand up for himself. I know it's unreasonable to demand a two-year-old to stand up to a bully, but I won't always be there at his side. I want to teach him some skills now, but how do you do that with a child who doesn't talk? I read something about just teaching them to say "No" loudly, and I'm going to work on that with G.
Our first encounter with a bully broke my heart. I'm glad that I managed to keep my emotions in check, but inside, I was burning with mama bear rage. I had to push aside my angry tears to be strong for G, and to not lose my cool with a kid who was still so young.
What would you do if your kid was being bullied on the playground? Any tips for this mama?