Lately the subject of violence has been front and center here. I was picked on a lot as a kid. I was small, had glasses, and was a tom-boy. I was also pretty fiesty if needs be. I guess I could say being the youngest in my family trained me to tolerate teasing—to a point.
But when it comes to your own kids, you want them to stick up for themselves. You want them to have the self-esteem to know teasing is wrong and people shouldn’t be allowed to do it. You want them to defend themselves or friends to bullies because little bullies usually turn into big bullies.
My daughter has been picked on or bullied several times in the last week, by different people. My response upon hearing this was to protect her, take care of her, fight FOR her. However, I wasn’t always there for all the events.
Situation #1 was at the baseball field at her brother’s practice. I love playing baseball so I had been volunteering to help the boys here and there. A boy came over to the playground and announced the game the girls were playing was stupid and they were stupid. My daughter told him it wasn’t stupid and they went back and forth until she tackled him. I had seen her do this before to other boys—and all was consensual wrestling. I assumed the same thing.
In the second situation we were at the baseball field again. My daughter came up to me and tells me this story:
Mom, I was playing in the sandbox with the sand toys I brought. A little girl came up to me and we were sharing my toys. But then she demanded to have the shovel—the ONLY shovel—and I said no. I was using it. She stood up, called me “stupid” and tried to grab the shovel out of my hand. I took my toys and went to the other sandbox. I saw her kick over my old sand castle.
Once I was done with the new sand castle, I came over to tell you what happened and she kicked over THAT sand castle.
Later on she asked me to talk to the Dad. This was one mean-looking somenabitch—complete with missing teeth. But
Mama Bear I went up to him, told him what his daughter had done and I asked if he could speak to her. He glared at me, told me MY daughter had bent her finger back and NO he wasn’t going to talk to her. She was only 4 years old. Okie dokie then…
Situation #3 was at the YMCA. I left her in the childcare room and 2 hours later I came back and she had been silent and pouting almost the whole time, according to the staff. No, I don’t know why I wasn’t told sooner. That’s another issue. Some boys wanted to use the foam blocks she was using to build a fort. There were MILLIONS of blocks. The boys were just being pests, except when they wouldn’t STOP trying to steal her blocks. She yelled at them and a staff member came over and told her not to speak to other kids like that. Instead of telling the teacher about the ridiculous boys, she went and pouted.
I finally sat down and talked to her about the teasing and bullying. I had wanted her to use her voice more, to defend herself better. I explained that you should always use your words first. If someone puts their hands on you go get an adult. In a real pinch defend yourself using as little force as necessary.
So we went through each situation and I listened to her rationalize her reactions. I was astonished at how carefully she thought things through. I thought she was being meek. Her words:
Well Mom, with the boy, I knew him and he was the same size as me. He made me really mad. I know I shouldn’t have tackled him but we do that sometimes at school. He was laughing the whole thing.
With the little girl…well…she was little. I told her No and that’s when she tried to grab the shovel out of my hand (which bent her finger back). I knew I couldn’t do anything else, because she was little. So I just left.
And with the boys at the YMCA, they just wanted some blocks eventhough there were a ton around them. They weren’t hitting me or calling me names. I didn’t think the staff would listen to me because I was told not to yell at them. They weren’t even paying attention. So I just hid in my fort until they went away.
I realized in each instance she used a different tactic specific to the situation. She wasn’t being meek and she was using her voice when people were picking on her.
I was pretty proud.