Has this ever happened to you? Your kid outsmarts you? It started like this. Erica and I wanted to take the kids on a bike ride. The weather was beautiful, cool and sunny, and we like to get outdoors together, but we didn’t want to be out long so we talked and decided we would not stop at the playground or park. Just go for a ride.
The last few times we took a non-destination bike ride, Ella broke down in tears because she got her hopes up and didn’t understand that it was just a bike ride. So we began to prep her. “Ella, we’re going to go for a bike ride but we’re not going to the park, OK?”
She protested, which we expected, but we held our ground. I want to go to the park. No. Can we go to the park, please? No. We can’t go to the park? No. We finished dinner and started to clean up and get their shoes on when Ella asked to wear her Cubbies vest. Her exact words were. “Can I wear my Cubbies vest to the park?” Yes. WAIT! NO! You tricked me!
Guess where we ended up…
This leads to the second part of this post. I’m a little angry right now even writing about it. While we were there, a group of older kids were playing on the swings. There was a girl who was with her younger brother, and he was down on the ground while she was punching him. Now, I grew up with two older brothers and I got my fair share of beat-downs so I let it go. The other six boys on the swings watched and talked while these two siblings had it out for a few seconds. But then later, as I was just beginning to talk to Ella about going home, I heard loud yelling and crying coming from the swings. I gathered from what the girl was shouting that her younger brother had bitten her leg. She pushed him down on the grass and sat on him and started punching him in his stomach and on his head. The other boys walked over and just watched.
Instantly, Ella’s mood changed. She was nervous and scared. I could tell she didn’t understand what was going on. We walked toward our bike.
The boy (probably 7 or 8 ) was really crying while his sister shouted at him to “give up” and promise to stop and never do it again. Through tears he said over and over “I give up!” but she wouldn’t get off. He shouted that he was hurt and couldn’t breath and she just yelled at him more. Ella grabbed my hand tighter as we stopped. I watched for a minute, hoping that the girl would see I was there.
He kept saying he couldn’t breath and one of the boys jumped up and said, “He needs his inhaler” and rushed it over to him and they tried to force him to use it. He stayed limp and grabbed his stomach every time they tried to move him. So that’s when I stepped in.
I calmly walked over, the girl got up and told her brother to get up and stop acting like a fool with people around. I told her she should probably just back up for a minute. “He’s my brother” she said with attitude. “I don’t care who he is” I said “I saw the way you were hitting him. You need to calm down and stand back for a minute.” Then I asked the boy if he was OK and if he needed me to call an ambulance (to which he said yes, and I was bluffing, I didn’t have a phone on me) I asked him if he needed me to call the police (and he said yes. Again, second bluff, but I wasn’t going to tell them that) So I told the girl to stay back while I go get my phone. “Why?!” she said as I walked my kids back to the bike.
She picked him up, and told him they were going home and that they would never come back to this park again. I think she felt guilty for what she did.
I buckled the kids up in the bike, by that time the two were gone.
As I started to ride away, one of the boys waved at me and said hi. That was it. I stopped and told them that a real man will stand up for someone who is getting beaten. I challenged them to stop being boys and stand up for people like that. They were dead quiet as I rode off in the direction that the girl and boy went.
Here’s what bothers me about the fighting”
1. They were getting violent in front of my kids and scaring them.
2. That kids seem to think it’s OK to just start wailing on someone.
3. That all the other boys just stood there and watched it happen.
Were my dad instincts right? Should I have just ridden away and let kids be kids? What do you think?
When we got home I had to move Ella’s bed. The past few weeks she has been scared of her ceiling. It has a texture on it, so maybe she was seeing shapes on it or something. We could never get it out of her. She just tells us it’s scary, moves her finger like a hook and says it makes noises like an animal that sound like “Ssssssss” which I find hard to believe because we take her hearing aides out at night. But, I moved her bed to another part of her room and she said it made her feel “better better.”
The night ended on a good note, playground fighting aside. I held Pax in my arms as he curled up toward my chest and closed his eyes. I laid him down in his bed and watched him turn on his side and pull the pillow over his head. Then I laid down with Ella and read some books, to help with the new bed location transition, and tickled her back. She curled up toward me and I reached my arm over her back and held her head in my hand. She reached her arm around my neck and I could feel her hand resting on my back. I listened as her breathing slowed until it turned into gentle snoring. Slipping out from under her arm I covered her with her favorite blanket, switched off the light and gently closed the door.