Park etiquette - baby bullies and moms who don't intervene


* These photos were taken a couple of years ago, when Soren was about 14 months. He's so tiny! 

Yesterday, being the beautiful day that it was, I took the kids down the street to a little playground. When we arrived we were the only ones there, and after a couple minutes a little boy and his mom showed up. The little boy was about five, and immediately asked Soren if he wanted to play with his bow and arrow set. I thought this was nice of him, although a bow and arrow set is a slightly odd toy to bring to the park! (The arrows were plastic.) Poppy and I headed for the swings as I kept my eye on Soren and the little boy.

Pretty immediately it became obvious that this little guy was a bully. He was directing Soren on what to do, how to play, where to stand, etc. Soren didn't seem to mind, and the 'rules' he was dictating seemed harmless. Poppy and I moved onto the play structure, which is when the little bully sprang into action.

'YOU ARE THE BABY PIRATE!' he shouted at Poppy.

'YOU ARE THE BAD PIRATE!' he screamed at me.

I ignored him, thinking he would move on. "GET OFF THE SHIP!' he screamed, as Soren watched in horror/amazement. At this point, I calmly told him that we could all play, and he was not the boss.

"GET OFF!!!' he continued yelling, and began advancing towards Poppy. 'Hey! Be careful, she is just a baby', I said standing between him and poor Poppy. That's when he started pushing me, and began headbutting me! Quite forcefully, I might add, as this little guy was quite a brute. I tried to explain that he could not push/touch me, I didn't want to play this way, and that we would have to leave if he continued. At this point we were at the top of a fairly large play structure, and I didn't want any of us to topple off onto the wood chips six feet down.

So what do you do when a five year old bully is attacking you? Grab your baby and retreat down the slide. Seriously, I fled. I called to Soren that we had to leave and then walked back home, as I tried to explain about what happened and how it isn't appropriate to play that way. I was rather ashamed of myself that I had let this little bully get the best of us, but I wasn't quite sure what I could have done differently. The mom MUST have been able to hear, unless she was deaf. She was a very short distance away (texting on her cell), and there was no one else at the park. I suppose I should have gone and talked to her about her sons behaviour, but to me it seemed obvious that she did not care, or was not interested. In that case - did I really want to get into an argument with her?

I tried talking to this kid for a good few minutes before the physical abuse started, and my words were not getting through to him. I didn't want to touch him - even by merely protecting myself and kids - so I took the slide down and away from him. It was the weirdest situation, and something I'm still scratching my head over. I would have expected Soren to get into a playground scrap much more than I expected to get into one myself!


la petite lulu said...

That is bizarre! And so sad. I'm sure the Mum was aware of it (you've got to be watching your kids at the park!) but just didn't want to address it for whatever strange reason. We've dealt with bullies before (big kids telling Ollie he was a baby and couldn't play with them, pouring sand on him etc) but thankfully the parents intervened.

On a side note - how little is Soren there?!?! It's crazy how fast they grow.

Emmett Katherine said...

seriously, if you take your kid to the park its YOUR job to watch them and parent, not to check out on a phone. Seriously such a huge pet peeve of mine. You did the right thing by leaving.

this past summer there was this monster child who would come to the playground with a daycare group and he was just awful. I could tell the daycare provider didn't want to deal with him so she turned a blind eye. our little group (three moms who are friends with kids the same age) watched him and intervened when he was getting out of line. Sorry you guys had to deal with that.