When to Fight Back
A cool breeze, a beautiful view of the water, children laughing and playing…a Saturday at the park sounds pretty delightful, right? Wrong. Any parent knows that going to the park only sounds good in theory. “I’ll let them run around and wear themselves out, then they’ll nap for 14 hours straight and I can remember what silence sounds like.” Then you get there and see that every other parent in town had the same idea.
We pulled up around noon, I had Vileya strapped to my chest in the Baby Bjorn (God knows if I put her down, she’ll eat 6 rocks, 32 bugs, 17 pounds of grass, dirt and sand and probably a cigarette butt or four), and Adelina is doing her best to release her hand from my grip so she can run full-tilt toward the playground. As we approach, I see very few children Lina’s age. “No big deal,” I tell myself. “She needs to learn to play with kids of all ages.”…Except kids of all ages have no idea how to play with kids of all ages…very few understand “hey, they’re younger than me, I’ll play accordingly” (LINA INCLUDED). I’ll be the first to admit that my toddler can be an egomaniacal monster who’s out for blood. Especially when dealing with her baby sister. Because we recognize this, we are doing our best to teach her to be kind. I don’t necessarily believe that she HAS to share with everyone, however I do believe she needs to be kind.
So, we finally make the trek from the parking lot to the playground–I’m sweating profusely already, just so you know–and Lina immediately runs for the sandbox. I call out to her to be polite and she gives me a “why are you even still here” nod as she runs along. There’s a young boy playing in there, roughly five years old, and I immediately notice there is only one shovel. Lina reaches to snatch it out of his hand but makes eye contact with me first. My raised eyebrows and pursed lips stop her in her tracks and she politely asks him, “can I have it please?” The boy says no and keeps playing. That is absolutely and perfectly fine. It belongs to him and he has every right to tell her no, he owes her nothing. Luckily Lina moves on and amuses herself by carrying handfuls of sand to place underneath a nearby bench. Because why build sand castles and dig for treasure when you can be a human bulldozer.
Sandbox boy’s mom is sitting near me and is playing on her phone. No biggy. It’s a fenced in playground and we need to take our free moments as we get them. A few times now, sandbox boy has flung sand in Lina’s direction and I instructed her to brush it off and continue playing. I know sandbox boy’s mama has heard me at this point because she’s 3 feet from me and my voice is one of those startlingly loud ones that kind of makes you feel uncomfortable. At this point, sandbox boy scoops up a big shovel-full of sand and straight up chucks it at Lina. I lean forward but stay seated…I want to give her a chance to handle the situation on her own. She loudly says, “please stop!” But he doesn’t. He scoops another shovel-full and tosses it at her. Again, “Stop!” This happens one final time before Lina takes matters into her own hands. She pulls her little fist back and decks him in the chest. Proper form and all. Sandbox boy falls on his tush and starts crying. I walk over and pick up Lina and ask if she’s ok. She says, “sorry, mommy”, and I explain that no apology is necessary. I help sandbox boy up and make sure he’s alright. He’s going on and on about how Lina hit him and is quite taken aback when I tell him that I know and that he had it coming. I explained to him that what he was doing wasn’t nice and that she asked him repeatedly to stop.
Let it be known, his mom is still mentally MIA.
I asked him his name and asked how he would feel if someone was throwing sand at him. He apologized, they hugged it out and split a pack of fruit snacks. Hopefully he’s not allergic, seeing as how his mom won’t notice in time to bring over an EpiPen. They said their goodbyes, I grabbed our things and we walked over to the fountain so Lina could throw coins in, aka toss them all in at once and then start crying when there aren’t any left. No, you may not climb in and retrieve the coins for round two.
Bottom line, I do not condone hitting people for no reason. And no, violence is not always the answer. We may have taught Lina proper hitting techniques but have always reiterated that you never hit people without just cause. YOU DO NOT BULLY PEOPLE. There are few things I despise more than a bully.
That being said, you DO defend yourself and others. Don’t start a fight but end it. Don’t hit first but hit the hardest. You know, all of those sayings that normal people teach their almost three-year olds. Could she have run away and tattled to me? Sure. As an adult, I very much appreciate when someone approaches me directly if they have an issue with me. Tattling isn’t always the answer either. I say try to solve the problem on your own and if that doesn’t work, then it’s time to go over their head.
Even though he wasn’t going about it the right way, all sandbox boy wanted was some attention. I’m pretty sure Lina fell in love with his bad-boy ways and mohawk haircut. That issue will be revisited in future posts, I’m sure.
We’re all misunderstood in our own ways, am I right?
Needless to say, my mom-mobile now has more sand in it than the damn Sahara.