It’s been a long, heavy week, hasn’t it folks? Just one of those weeks where the negative energy being spewed into the universe starts to drag on you, even if you try to stay away from the news. I started to think about what I was going to write for this week’s Friday post last Sunday, at a backyard birthday party for a friend of Maya’s. This was before the tragic events at the Boston Marathon, before the explosion at the Texas fertilizer plant, before the shooting at MIT and ensuing madness in Watertown and Cambridge. I stayed up last night glued to Twitter with that desire for more information, just like after 9/11.
I had thought about a few different ideas for what I wanted to write, while watching my often cautious little girl make her way amongst the more sure-footed 3-year-olds. She had clung to me for at least the first 30 minutes until a party fairy convinced her to help sing and play music. I went to get us some lunch and had a seat and saw her walk over to a group of little girls, waiting for the fairy to entertain them. When she went to stand next to one of them, the little girl pushed her. Hard enough so that she got sent backwards. And pushed with malice in her eyes. Malice…from a 3-year-old?? And towards my sweet, gentle child? My gut instinct was to run over and ask if Maya was alright, and tell the other little girl that kind of behavior was not OK, but I know Maya has to learn to use the tools we have tried to give her in situations where kids approach her in an inappropriate manner. And I wanted to give the other girl’s Dad a chance to do his job. You know the one where he’s supposed to watch his kid, and say something if she uses her hands instead of her words. So I resisted my urge, and to my delight and surprise even though she looked shocked, Maya walked right back over to stand where she had initially planned to. I was proud – she stood her ground!
And then she was pushed again. Hard. For no reason other than standing her ground. This was too much for Mama Bear. I started to go over, but before I could take more than a step, I saw Maya’s lip start to quiver and she started walking quickly, and then running to me. So instead I kneeled, and hugged my little girl as she sobbed.
These are the moments as a parent where I think to myself, crap, I should have…done whatever it is I decided not to do. Or thought of something else better. I spent the entirety of the rest of the party trying to rebuild my monkey’s confidence and not give the other child, or her father the Evil Eye. She could have been having a bad day. He could have been as well, but that’s no excuse for not parenting because you’re too busy socializing.
I started to think – is this when this starts? When does a bully become a bully? Is it when a parent doesn’t stand up for the younger sibling when the older one pushes them around because “that’s just how it is” and “they have to learn how to stick up for themselves”? Is it when a parent doesn’t pay attention at a party, or a parent does pay attention but decides to let the kids figure it out on their own? I really don’t know the answers.
The whole day just left me with more questions. And after the bombings in Boston (now that is a phrase I never imagined I’d say), I thought, now aren’t these two the ultimate bullies? They are unhappy with themselves, and their lives, so they feel the need to push others around in a grand fashion because somehow that’s going to make them feel better right? Wrong. How do we teach people like this that violence is not the way to go?
Like I said, I don’t have the answers, really. Just more questions…and for now, just a wish for a peaceful weekend for us all.