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...