BUT I DIDN’T. Don’t call the authorities on me. I am a lover, not a fighter.
I mean thank gods for that impulse control we can harness, amiright?
OH THIS GIRL.
Here’s the scene. The girl (3 or maybe 4 years old) is at the train table, you know train tracks and about 20 different train cars that all the kids play with. If you’re looking to pass around germs, congratulations! You’ve found the perfect spot.
Anyway, she’s there holding onto ALL THE TRAIN CARS when my two walk up and my boy says, “CAN I PWAY WITH DAT ONE. DAT BLUE ONE?”
She says, “NO THESE ARE MY BROTHERS.”
I am way too old to hover and be a helicopter parent, so from my seat criss cross applesauce on the floor several feet away I watched this exchange play out. I love watching kids work their stuff out and only intervene when really necessary. But after a few more of these nasty reactions from her when my kids were simply wanting a turn and not to take the trains away but to all play together, I jumped (crawled) in.
My girl: “CAN GAH PWAY WIF DAT BLUE TRAIN PWEASE?”
Her: “NO. THESE ARE MY BROTHERS.”
ME: “Hey, there are a lot of trains here and a lot of kids, so how about we all take turns with the trains.”
Her: “NO. THESE ARE MINE AND MY BROTHERS.”
Me: “Actually no they are not yours. They are the library’s trains.”
HerL “NO YOU CAN’T HAVE THEM. NO.”
My boy: “DOSE ARE THE WIBRARYS TRAINS.”
Her: “NO. YOU CAN’T HAVE THEM.”
I recognize this girl. I know this girl. She’s been here with us before. I know her name from her Nanny calling out to her to come back. I should also mention that her little brother – clearly the boss of the family – was in time out for holding onto all the trains. This is like some mafia movie where when the Boss in in the slammer, the rest of the family keeps the business going until he’s out. Finally after all was said and done, their Nanny came over and said something to her but we had already walked away.
Then my kids come over to me all sad because “DAT GIRL WON’T GIVE US A TURN.” I know guys. Let’s play with something else for a few minutes until she’s done with the trains.
IT IS NOT MY PLACE TO DISCIPLINE SOMEBODY ELSE’S KID. I make a judgment call each time and unless there is physical or emotional danger, I’m not here to criticize parents or caregivers or any of that. Who the hell am I to do that?
If my kids are being unkind or not taking turns, I would want to know. But I also don’t take kindly to other parents or caregivers going after my kids so I understand that others wouldn’t like it either, cool? Cool. I will say that if I were to see my kids acting in the manner that little girl was acting, we would be out of there so fast your head would spin. For the record, our Nanny is on exactly the same page as we are.
Now here’s the thing. My kids aren’t perfect, far from it. Some times they are a real piece of work. All kids test boundaries and act out. Hell, there are times I have to hold myself back from punching my own kids. Not really, but that impulse is there. When you have to maybe walk away for a minute? You know what I’m talking about. But they are doing a really good job lately. They are learning kindness and taking turns. I must say they are doing a really good job lately at practicing kindness.
What I am saying is that there was something in ME that made me want to throttle this little girl. Mama Bear instincts? I’ve been on the other side of mean kids, mean adults and it is awful. It is all a part of life, I understand, yet still awful.
The greatest wish I have for my kids is that they be kind. That will be my greatest accomplishment as a parent. Not that they’re top of their class or a great athlete. But kind. My mom had the same goal with us growing up and I believe it a noble and lofty ambition, but worthy of our attention for the long haul.
When I see my kids being polite and kind and it isn’t given them in return, I ROAR. I know they have a long hard life ahead of them where there will be plenty of disappointment and it’s my job to teach them how to handle that appropriately.
So what do I tell my kids when they ask me why that girl was mean and why she wouldn’t give them a turn with the trains. I say, “She doesn’t want to play with you right now. And that’s ok. Let’s just leave her alone. We can do this puzzle and we can do it together. Maybe she will want to play another time, but not today. And it’s not nice to hold all the trains, right? We can play with them next time.”
The same way I choose my battles as an adult, I hope I am teaching my kids to handle their battles. I don’t have to fight every fight. It’s easier most times to walk away. It just is. When it is really important and worth fighting, then dammit you fight and I will fight with you. Let’s save our energy for the big stuff.
But they don’t get it. They don’t understand at 2.5 years old that kids don’t want to play with them or take turns and that’s a tough pill to swallow. They don’t really understand that some people are just mean. That people are hurt and so they act out. So we swallow it together because it breaks my heart a little that my kids want to play with this girl and she is being a little jerk. We all know that hurt feeling of somebody not wanting to hang out with us. It stings. But we can move on appropriately and find people who do want to play with us. And for my kids, they will always have me. I know, THANKS MOM.
I almost punched a little girl at the library. But I didn’t. Because after having a few days to reflect, I feel like I have some compassion and sympathy for her. After seeing her several days at the library and acting in a similar fashion I ask the questions in my head. What is making her so angry and defensive? Why is she so aggressive? Why so mean? I like that she’s sticking up for her brother and protecting what she THINKS belongs to him, even though it doesn’t. You see what I’m doing? I am trying to give her the benefit of the doubt. There are two sides to every story. I have no idea what her life is like. She may indeed grow up to be a lovely woman, but for now she best stay out of our path when we meet at the library. OUT OF MY WAY LITTLE LADY. And thank you for the teachable moment with my kids.
“WHY WAS DAT GIRL SO MEAN? WHY SHE NOT GIVE US A TURN?” Repeat repeat repeat. These kids man. They want to reconcile and make everybody be nice. I love that.
There is always more to the story than just a mean kid. There is the reason why she was holding on so hard to those trains. For her brother. For fear of losing them. For fear. Fear. Now that I get. So in the end I understand this girl. Even though I don’t want her anywhere near my kids with that mean attitude, I am more compassionate toward her when I think of it as based in fear.
But still. DO NOT BE MEAN TO MY KIDS DO YOU HEAR ME LITTLE GIRL?
These kids are learning so much every single day from each interaction. They are learning the power of please and thank you and excuse me. In fact, after this all went down, my boy came to me and said, “YOU PROUD OF ME MAMA? I SAID EXCUSE ME WHEN I ASK DAT GIRL FOR THE TRAIN.”
I could not be more proud of you. I am so so so proud. Even though she didn’t give you the trains, you said excuse me and please and didn’t get very upset when she didn’t give them to you. You were nice to her and not mean even when she wasn’t nice to you. I am so incredibly proud of you.
These kids learn from us every single day. Every single interaction we have, they are watching and learning.
I learn from these kids every single day. I didn’t have to punch a little girl because I learned so much. (INSERT SMILEY JOKE FACE HERE)
See also – :
Where do mean girls come from?
Dear dad at the park calling your son chicken because he didn’t want to slide
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