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Saturday, July 16, 2011

I Smell A Bully

Lucas is barely two years old and is still trying to grasp the concept of sharing. He's got a long way to go, but for his age, he does really well.

Unless, he's being pushed too far and then, just like you or I, he loses it.

Yesterday, his Mommy lost it.

We were at Barnes & Noble and Lucas was vying for a place at the train table and a train to play with and every time he got his hands on one, another boy, an older boy would snatch it from him. 

I bit my tongue the first three times as I nonchalantly looked around for the boy's mother and helped Lucas find another train and told him he would get a turn with the one he really wanted soon.

The older boy kept Lucas and two other younger children from using an entire side of the table and at one point (and this was utterly shocking to me) pushed my son out of his way. 

No "excuse me", no "I'm sorry". Just a push.

The look in Lucas' eyes was one of bewilderment and asked what did I do wrong?. 

Grabby? Possessive? Rude? Where was this kid's manners? Better question, where was this kid's parents?

I smell a bully.

At one point, little three-year-old, Emma walked around the older boy to get to a section of the train table he wasn't hogging and he exclaimed that she "hit" him. 

She didn't touch him. Her mom and I were right there the entire time. 

Trying to set a good example, Emma's mom had her apologize to the boy and also explained that her daughter was only three and didn't mean to touch him. With that she asked how old he was.


Six? Six years old and acting like this? 

Shortly thereafter, the boy went for another train from Lucas and that was it. My poor son had had it and so had I!

I got in the six year old's face and said, "You are not being nice. That is the fourth time you have taken a train from my son. Where is your mother?"

We didn't stick around long enough to meet the mother, as Lucas, having been pushed to his limit had a complete melt down. I scooped him up, calmed him down and we went to another section of the store.

I really didn't want to be that mom, the one that flees, avoids confrontation, but let's face it sometimes it's just easier when you know you're never going to run into that six year old or his mother again.  

I know I can't protect my son from every bully or uncomfortable situation and I'm not proud of the way this scenario played out. 

On the other hand, it's not my job to discipline someone else's child when their parent is no where to be seen, is it? What did I do wrong? How do you handle situations like this?

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Blogger Natalie said...

I have zero problem parenting someone else's child.

July 16, 2011 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger Jackie said...

Ugh, I completely understand! I remember when my son was 2 years old, and my neighbor's kid was 3. We used to go over to their house to play, and it never failed, that her kid always acted like a bully.

One time, my son was sitting on the floor playing, and her kid just came up to him and pushed him. My son fell back and hit his head on the floor and started crying. My neighbor didn't see, and I told her he had pushed him, but she didn't do anything. I was so upset that I just pretended it was time to go already. And, honestly, the minute I walked into my house I started crying because I felt so bad for my son. He's always so nice and to see other kids act like that and their parents not doing anything just upset me.

July 16, 2011 at 11:48 AM  
Anonymous Bridget said...

You're right, you should not have to discipline other children. However, you do have to protect your child. I think when they are small it is important for you to see them sticking up for them so they learn to stick up for themselves. It can be hard to do without being nasty or losing your cool, but it is important.

July 16, 2011 at 12:14 PM  
Anonymous The Sweetest said...

I am glad you said something to that boy. I would have, too, and perhaps even sooner. I am still learning to be more assertive, because my son, while not perfect, is often on the receiving end of bullish behavior. If the other parent is present, I wait to see if he/she will intervene. If there is no parent, I usually step in and say to the bully, "Hayden was playing with that. When he is done you can have a turn. Hayden? How long will you be playing with the train? Can this little boy play with it in two minutes" Or something like that. Try to give both kids a time frame. And then they can trade at the end of two minutes.

July 16, 2011 at 12:24 PM  
Anonymous Steve Bennett said...

I think you're fully justified sticking up for your son, and his rights, shame his parents have fallen flat on the job they should have done in giving the child manners.

July 16, 2011 at 12:24 PM  
Blogger Tarasview said...

I think you did the right thing.

My son has Autism and will often appear like a bully- if I am not able to correct him I don't mind another mother doing it (assuming she isn't being mean).

We have to protect our children :)

July 16, 2011 at 12:43 PM  
Blogger Amanda @ It's Blogworthy said...

I can't understand why children do that, and additionally why so many parents aren't around to watch their children in situations like this. It's in the same boat for me as a child who walks over to the stroller and tries to take toys out of it when we're out and about (yes, it's happened). It's not your place, but at the same time, when the parent is MIA, whose place is it? You have to protect your child and I think in this case you had no other did the right thing takes a village :)

July 16, 2011 at 1:28 PM  
Blogger "As We Speak" said...

Clearly, your job first and foremost is to protect your did that. When Lucas is
older, situations like that might be handled in a different way. But, for now, the best you can do is remove him from that situation.


July 16, 2011 at 1:29 PM  
Blogger Kir said...

You did exactly the RIGHT thing. I would have waited around and allowed my son's meltdown to be the reason for my disgust with her son's behavior. I am just so sorry that he had to encounter this at such a young age and he didn't get to play with the trains. Bullies can not be allowed to take over...I'm so proud of you and so glad that I am a mom in your space. Xo

July 16, 2011 at 2:26 PM  
Blogger Evonne said...

You didn't do anything wrong. I don't find anything wrong with disciplining a child, especially if (s)he is upsetting your child.

We had an incident at the pool last week. My son's friend was pushing him and my son fell and got hurt. The "friend" ran to his mom screaming my son started it (not the case!). I saw the mom talking to her son, but now she won't even look at me when we see each other.

July 16, 2011 at 4:19 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

This is tough. I probably would have either said something to the kid much sooner than you did or I would have grabbed my kids and left earlier. I also probably would have been making very rude comments out loud until the mother finally heard me since she was nowhere to be seen. Probably not the best way to handle the situation but that's me.

July 16, 2011 at 5:24 PM  
Blogger Alison@Mama Wants This said...

You did the right thing by saying something to the boy. It's a shame his parents were nowhere near to hear it. It irks me when people leave their children to act as they please, especially when it's an older child taking advantage of his age and size, over a toddler.

I would totally have done the same, except I would have done it earlier! You are far more patient than me.

July 16, 2011 at 5:55 PM  
Anonymous MamaRobinJ said...

Poor Lucas! I can imagine how awful that would feel to someone his age.

I have no problem telling another kid my son was playing with something and he can have his turn. And vice versa - if C takes a toy from someone, he has to give it back.

I would probably have done what you did - taken my baby and walked away. But part of me would have wanted to find his mom and make sure she was aware.

July 16, 2011 at 7:38 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Wow - six? I can't imagine Sage doing something like that. Or Sawyer when he was 6. I actually would've said something a LOT sooner, because I have no patience for that crap.

At six, they know better. He either is an only child OR he's the youngest and has older siblings who do it to him. Also, that his mother was not around could be a sign there's not a lot of guidance going on.

It does break your heart to see stuff like that happen to your kid, tho. Poor Lucas! Xander would've probably bit that six year-old. ;)

July 16, 2011 at 8:44 PM  
Anonymous Galit Breen said...

Poor Lucas, poor you! That is such a hard situation!

I really like that you said something to someone, anyone really. Mostly just to show Lucas that you're on his team and that it's okay to stand up for himself.

It still hurts your heart when someone hurts your littles, though, doesn't it?

Greta post, as always.


July 16, 2011 at 8:49 PM  
Blogger bigguysmama said...

I can NOT tell you how fed up I am with parents letting their kids run loose everywhere. Tonight at work a family with 6 kids and no parents in sight. One kid was bouncing a ball sky high and ran into a man. As I started to go over the mom came around the corner. She told him to stop and he went to bounce it again in her face. UNTIL he saw me then he turned back down the aisle. Earlier one of the kids and knocked a box with 4 huge packages of nails over and they shattered everywhere. No assistance to clean them up, just running off. So ridiculous! And these parents are SO unaware as if their little "Johnny" is pleasant as pie and should be taken out into public! You definitely did the right thing and I would've done the same if I hadn't been an employee, but a mom!


July 16, 2011 at 9:32 PM  
Blogger Kim @ Mamas Monologues said...

You are far more patient than I am! I would have said something to him as well, but much earlier. I don't like being in those situations, when I am I don't have a problem parenting someone else's child. Especially when their parents are completely oblivious, or nowhere to be seen!

You did the right thing!

July 16, 2011 at 10:02 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Ugh, that stuff drives me crazy. I do the same, bite my tongue for as long as I can while looking for the mother. It is ALWAYS the ones with no mom around who pull this stuff.

July 17, 2011 at 4:12 AM  
Blogger Sophie said...

I wouldn't of had that much patience! You did the right thing, Tonya! Poor Lucas :(

July 17, 2011 at 8:20 PM  
Anonymous Minka said...

You TOTALLY did the right thing. And as Alison said above, I would've done it sooner. You are very patient and considerate. But if the parent is going to be irresponsible enough to leave their kid there unsupervised (and quite possibly while knowing what kind of bully their kid is and potential for havoc... and for all you know, is precisely why they left the kid unsupervised because they didn't wanna deal with it), then they are tacitly allowing for the possibility that other parents might have to step in and essentially do their job for them. Most people only leave their kids unsupervised when they know other parents will be around to help ensure their child will at least be safe. So -- it was really your duty to step in, not just to let this kid know his behavior was unacceptable, but also to protect your own child and let him know that a: you have his back, and b: other kids/people don't have a right to treat him that way.

I've encountered these kinds of kids often, and I never hesitate to say something. Both my kids are very tall for their age, and when they were very young, it made things difficult. Other kids were tougher on them because they assumed they were older. So I've spent more than my fair share of time dealing with bullies on the playground and pointing out that my kids are much younger than they seem.

I also once watched a big mean kid shove my kid into a ballpit at an indoor playspace, and I'm not exactly proud to admit it, but I think I might've actually pushed the kid into the ballpit after watching him slam my kid in the back and knock her into the ball pit one too many times. It was a few years ago, so I don't remember if I actually did that, or simply remember wishing I could. But I did use that scary, growling, low mean Mommy voice to tell the kid that he'd be kicked out of the place and be punished if he did that again. Of course the kid turned all kinds of shades of pale, and I watched the kid the rest of the time I was there and never saw him once with an adult. Just goes to show what kids become when responsible adults don't act responsibly. I'm sorry, but I'm just not one of those people who gives kids an extra pass on bad behavior simply because they're young. Especially when it's clear that they're old enough to realize what they're doing.
Yeah, I'm a bitch. But my kids know that it's never okay to be treated with disrespect, and also never okay to treat someone disrespectfully. And also that their mom will always be looking out for them. I'm definitely not of the "turn the other cheek" variety. Oh well.

July 18, 2011 at 6:54 AM  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

A month ago I would have had no idea how to answer this. But now I know exactly what I would do. Reprimand the other child. Politely, but I would all the same.

July 18, 2011 at 8:58 PM  
Blogger Sherri said...

I hate, HATE these situations. And when the parents are nowhere to be found? Not supervising? My red flags go up.

You showed Lucas that he didn't have to put up with that by standing up for him. And that other boy needed to hear what you had to say. You gave him several chances to make a different choice.

That is NOT the kind of kid that needs to be left unattended at a store.

July 20, 2011 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger Leah said...

You totally did the right thing! I probably would have stepped in even sooner! Grrr! Where were his parents?!!

July 21, 2011 at 8:31 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

I agree that you totally did the right thing. I don't have much problem "parenting" other people's kids when the parents aren't around. I think it comes from doing it as my job as a teacher. I probably would have stepped in sooner...or found the kid's mom.

July 22, 2011 at 10:18 AM  
Blogger Carri said...

I think that, without you really knowing it, you've taught Lucas a good lesson: When someone is being a jerk, just walk away.
Talking to this child's mother would have done nothing. $100 says her child is an "angel".

July 24, 2011 at 1:40 PM  

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