Monday, May 20, 2013

Hear Me Roar

I witnessed my son being made fun of for the first time yesterday.  We were at a neighborhood party and all the kids were swimming in our community pool.  My oldest kept trying to get some older girls (around 9) to come look at something on the other end of the pool and they were acting like they couldn't hear him (In fairness, I have used this trick with men before, too.)  Finally, one said she would come.  As she swam up to him, she told him that he had something on his nose.  He did.  A giant, gooey booger was oozing out of his nose.  He reached up to try and fix it.  This is when the teasing started.

She called out to her friend (a little girl who comes to play at our house fairly often) and she pointed to my son and faked picking her nose.  They went back and forth five or six times making their fingers look like boogers and ignoring his continual request to understand why they were laughing.  I saw my son's face fall.  "Mommy...Why aren't they coming?  Why are they laughing at me?"  he asked. That's when the mama rage came in.

I wanted to pick them up by their little pony tails and ask them how big and bad they felt by picking on a 4 year old.  I have absolutely no tolerance for meanness.  Especially against my child.  But I knew that if I was rude I wouldn't teach them a thing.  So I decided to restrain myself and used my best teacher voice.  "Girls, it's not nice to make fun of other kids.  Haven't you ever had a booger before?"  I asked them.  "No!!" they shouted in unison and dove underneath the water to avoid further conversation.

My face still burned and I second guessed calling them out.  Should I have let him handle it?  When should I stop intervening?  At the same time, I think I would have intervened if I saw anyone being cruel to anyone else.  I just can't stand it.  While these thoughts banged around my head I helped my youngest one in and out of the pool.  He was struggling with the pool ladder and that same little girl came up behind him.  "I can help him get out.  He's really cute," she said.  She smiled shyly and I took it as an act of peace.  She wanted me to know she was sorry.  I smiled back and told her how thoughtful she was to offer her help.  And I hoped that she she might think twice before making fun of someone the next time.

Kids are mean...Isn't that what we are always told?  While they can be mean, I really believe it is our job to correct them and teach them what it means to be a kind person.  Still, I have questions about when it is appropriate to correct someone else's child (ever?) and when to let my sons stand up for themselves.  I would love to know your thoughts on this.

Do you intervene when someone wrongs your child?  How do you teach them to handle things on their own? 

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