Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Playground Woes

I hadn't realized till recently that being the parent on scene can get me almost as mad as I used to be when I was the one having playground squabbles twenty years or more ago.

Some time back I was watching our older two as they rampaged around the church playground while MrsD was in a meeting. There were a few other kids running around as well, among them one boy who was much larger than the others, probably 8-9 while the rest of the kids are 6 and under.

Now, our oldest is fearless, though small, and so when this big boy starts chasing the smaller kids around, she responds by trying to chase him back. He responds by tackling her and holding her down and tickling her. This happens a couple times, with me getting increasingly annoyed over on my bench, until I decide I've had enough.

I head over where the boy is holding Eleanor down and tickling her and, standing over him, deliver a "hey there" in the gruff daddy voice that is meant to telegraph "I'd like to disembowel you at the moment, but I've decided to try words first."

The kid looks up at me and grins.

Now a 9-year-old boy may be big next a four year old girl, but he's got nothing on Daddy, so I simply lift him up by the shoulders, set him on his feet and advise him, "That's enough of that."

He wanders off grumbling and Daddy dusts off his girl, gives her a hug, and sends her off to play.

I returned to my bench and my book, but a few moments later an aggrieved-looking woman comes over with the offending kid.

"You shouldn't touch him," she says. "You'll hurt him. I'm right here. If you don't like anything he's doing just tell me. He never means any harm. Just don't touch him."

A range of reactions of the violent to the sarcastic run through my head, but I keep it down to a brief pause followed by an, "Okay."

"You don't need to touch him," she repeats, in case a didn't hear her the first time, and she heads off sheltering her boy under her wing, lest -- I suppose -- the big evil man should suddenly decide to "touch him" again.

I suppose I must have violated some sacred rule of sensitive modern parenting in lifting her kid off mine -- but I would have at least thought that in the same book it would be written: Let not your child sit on those half his size and of the opposite sex.

Seems to me that when I was growing up:

a) I wouldn't have even tried to complain to my mother that I got in trouble for rousting up a younger kid.

b) If I had been that stupid, I would have been told, "You shouldn't be rough with the smaller kids" rather than held up as the injured party.

Grumble, grumble, grumble...


Fred said...

helicopter mother! she complains today to you and sets herself up to explain later to his employer or the his sentencing judge.

Anonymous said...

Ugh! That would make me feel like drop-kicking kid & mom.

John Farrell said...

Next time, just stomp on his head.


1990bluejay said...

You were much more restrained than I would have been I think. If I had behaved like that as a child, I would have been well disciplined instead of having my mother snipe. I hate to see what this kid will pull in 5 years or so with an indulgent parent like this. Of course, he's obviously played his mother like a tool already. Sad.

bearing said...

I'd still be careful, especially since you're a man. Someone might sue you. Seriously.

Rick Lugari said...

What I don't get is: if MrsD was in a meeting at church, that means she was presumably in a liturgy committee meeting. Why wouldn't the kids be inside making felt banners with mom?

mrsdarwin said...

Dude, no one else on the liturgy committee has kids that young.

Anonymous said...

I would have told that woman what I thought. Sheesh, you know the boy's version of the story is filtered to show his innocence in the matter.

Secondly, "Just come and tell me?" I'd rather not leave the children outside unattended.

CMinor said...

Well, my guys wouldn't have gotten any sympathy if they'd behaved that way.

In similar circumstances I'd have been tempted to suggest that the dear lady either instruct her son not to rough up smaller kids or provide constant monitoring and direct intervention herself so I didn't have to. Can't say whether it would have made things better or worse, though.

Bearing does have a point about the risk to Darwin. OTOH, if that kid hits, say, eighteen and has the same attitude toward females he showed in this case, Momma may not be able to talk him out of the trouble he could get himself into.

Darwin said...

Just in the interests of general accuracy, the mother in question was actually there the whole time. She just didn't see fit to intervene until about ten minutes after I'd already removed her son from my daughter.

I hadn't met either before, though, so I wasn't aware that he had a parent present.

Fidei Defensor said...

Well one the one hand, when I was little, bullies were a part of childhood, kids could be cruel, but in the end it builds character.

Now one of my siblings, younger but close in age, he was more prone to asking mom and dad for help in such circustances, I on the other hand was more willing to tough it out.

In the end we both turned out fine. For little kids, I know some are greatly reassured by the fact that there parents are there to protect them, as for me, as a little guy, I liked to keep the world of kids and the world of adults as seperate as possible.

Now what is diffrent here is that you've got little girls. I think with a son, expecting him to learn how to stand up to a bully is pretty reasonable (though rather shocking and un-pc in our senestiive society), as for little girls, even little Darwins who are no doubt tough and fearless, it's a sad thing that a boy, even that young, doesn't have the decency to know better than to pick on them, and I'll bet it makes a father's blood boil to see his daughters getting pushed around.

100 years ago you probably could have taken a switch to this kid with the blessings of his parents and society, these days, not so much.

One outside the box tip I have though is that, kids are rather, well senestive, and it's not hard to shame or embares them with something like sarcasm. Or if you want to be more constructive, engage the little guy in conversation, ask him how he'd feel if a bigger kid was doing that to him?

Lastly, you could probably trip a kid and get away with it, I mean his word against yours, come on? A well delivered fall can really hurt an ego. Of course, that plan could end in disastor for you as well if spoted so I wouldn't recomdend it!

Anonymous said...

My response to that mom would have been, "Your son shouldn't be touching my daughter. Then I wouldn't have to peel him off her."

Then turn and don't get drawn into an argument.

Betcha anything that kid didn't tell his mom what he did!

However, you did show admirable restraint.


Julie D. said...

I agree with MomLady though doubtless I wouldn't have been so restrained as to turn away after that. And I'm sure I wouldn't have been quick enough to think of that perfect response.

And, good for your defender of the innocent, out there taking it on the chin to protect the little ones! :-)

Anonymous said...

I would NEVER let my sons act like that toward anyone, nevermind a little girl. That is shameful, and the inattentive mother had NO place correcting you like that. Unbelievable.

I am also at the playground parent stage with a 5.5yo and a 3yo. I find that I am more annoyed with other parents than anything, to the point of not wanting to take my kids there. Two incidents come to mind - (1) a 6-7yo boy's parents sat in the car - not watching him at all - while my sister and I were with our kids. We were not there to babysit this stranger, nor did we appreciate his behavior anyway. We left, forcing the parents to actually (gasp) watch their son. (2) My sister and I took our kids to an indoor (mall) play area. My sister had to take her special needs son somewhere, so I was there holding her baby girl while watching our other 4 kids. So I was watching FIVE kids alone, but also had the ability to watch another child grab a 2yo kid and pull him off a toy onto his head!! Not much I could do except try to yell, "NO! Don't do that!" When the kid's grama finally noticed, I yelled at her, "you have to watch him!"

Sad sad sad. I felt the need (and don't regret it) to yell at some old lady for her lack of attention.

Bah. This was more of a vent than anything, but also a pat on the back. You did what you had to do for your kids, and you were in the right.

-- Bridget

Anonymous said...

Hehehe... Rick said: "Felt banners" :)

Unknown said...

I always think of what my mom did when she spotted a boy throwing rocks at me (I was about 6 at the time.) .
She picked the kid up, pinned him against a nearby chain-link fence, and held him there, feet dangling, while she forcefully stated..." If I ever catch you bothering my daughter again, so help me God, I'll kill you. Understood ?"
She probably would have ended up being sued nowadays...