9/29/14

My Lesson In Boys Being Boys, Girl Bullies, And Indifferent Parenting.

Being that my son is an only child, I worry about him learning to share and socialize with other children like he would naturally having a sibling. For this reason, I take him to a two day a week preschool for a few hours a day to socialize with children his own age, take him to kid friendly events, and of course set up playdates whenever possible. I also do my best to teach him to be kind, courteous and well-mannered around all people, regardless of age.

Just like any parent, I want my son to be awesome, have lots of friends, and be fun to be around. So far, so good. But then there is always the variable that can make this difficult, other kids. Other kids teaching him naughty behavior or bullying him. I recently learned no matter how hard I try, there is no way to avoid either. The only saving grace, is how I deal with it as a parent.


A couple of weeks ago FTD, Ollie and I joined a few other couples with boys near Ollie's age (2yrs), at an outdoor festival. Most of the boys Ollie had played with before. All was going well, until a friend pulled out a bunch of "mighty machines"; trucks, bulldozers, tractors... There were plenty for all of the boys to share, and to my delight, all shared really well. The oldest started building a road around the tree they were playing by, then the littles followed suit. well, except my kid.  My heart sank when I looked over and saw Ollie sitting on the outside of the circle looking disappointed, and not playing with the other boys.

I walked over to see what the problem was, and found it was just a matter of too many cooks in the kitchen. There were too many little hands with trucks for the small road being built. Ollie didn't know what to do.  As much as I wanted to reach down and help him get into the mix, I didn't.

I knew this was going to be a perfect chance for Ollie to Learn a Life Lesson.

I needed to let him figure it out. At least, I hoped he would.

And thankfully, he did.


Once Ollie was back to playing with the boys, I walked off feeling so proud of myself and Ollie. I resisted the urge to Helicopter parent him, and he learned to fight for his place in the game. #Win

Then... three days later we went to a playground after nap to start burning off his ridiculous energy.  There were a few kids there already playing, all boys and one girl. Ollie went right to the slide, slid down a few times, then went over to see what the other kids were doing. About two minutes later, Ollie was at the bottom of the slide talking to the little girl, then started crying and ran over to me.

Ollie: Mommy!  She won't let me go down the slide!
Me: Why not?
Ollie: She doesn't like me.
Me:  What?

I walked him over to the slide where the kids were playing to let him climb up the ladder and show him it was OK. I nearly died when the little girl stepped in front of me to stop us!

Little girl: *pointing at Ollie* We don't know that kid, he can't play here.
Me: *Trying not to lose my shit on a three year old girl*  Well, his name is Ollie and he is a very nice boy!
Little girl:  We don't like kids with that name.

ARE YOU F*CKING KIDDING ME???

Me: That's not very nice at all, and this slide does not belong to you, so you cannot decide who uses it. Ollie, honey, go ahead and play on the slide.
Little Girl: NO! We don't like him.

I thought I was going to scream at the little girl!  But, that's not my job, it's her parent's. My job was to walk around her, and let Ollie climb up the slide. Which I did. I also let Ollie know he was a good boy, and that the little girl was just being a meany.

Who knew, my son's first encounter with a bully would have been a three year old girl?!

I get that kids bullying kids in one form or another will happen. Ollie tries to take toys from his friends, and can certainly be a little brat, but I do my best to rectify the situation on the spot. There is no brushing that behavior off! I don't care how embarrassing it may be for a parent to have to face another parent when their child is being bully, if that parent doesn't do everything they can to rectify the situation and teach their child how that behavior is intolerable, they are just as guilty of bullying to.

Nothing hurts more than seeing my son's feelings hurt. I know Ollie will have to encounter bullies many more times, I just hope for the first few times, I am there to let him know he has done nothing wrong, mean people suck, and to never become one.



What do you think? Are parents to blame? How do you deal with bullying?



April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit AprilMcCormick.com

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