The other day I received an unpleasant reminder of what the future of being a parent holds: bullies.
Of course it's crossed my mind from time to time how Natalie will eventually encounter another child who's a jerk to her for no reason, but it seemed like it would be years away, most likely when she entered elementary school.
Wrong. Assholes come in every age, I've learned.
If you think I'm being harsh or picking on an innocent child, just hear me out.
Natalie and I are at the park on Thursday and a little boy we saw the day before (about 3 or 3 1/2 years old) immediately runs up to us, says, "Don't play with me!" and pokes her with a stick.
I assumed this was his way of trying to get her attention and in return get her to play with him, so I let it go. Then he poked her again and again and again, so I told him she didn't like it and to stop. (She actually didn't have a reaction to it, but it was pissing me off.) So he runs off.
Then I'm sitting on a step, playing with Natalie and filling a bucket up with mulch. He comes up to me and is all, "I'm a monster! Raaarw" I think, "Aw, how cute! He wants to play." so I go along with it. "Oh, no, you're a monster! Ahh!"
Then he smacks me right in my face. Right in my fucking face.
Containing my frustration, I told him not to hit people, as I looked up to find whoever was supervising him. There was a group of nannies, one of which I knew he was with but not sure just who. One was looking at us and just laughed. The boy ignores me again and runs off.
Later he snatches the bucket Natalie is playing with from her hands. I tell him that we should leave the bucket in a place where everyone can play with it (we were still filling it with mulch and other kids were playing too). Again, no respect for what I say and he doesn't share. (At this point a woman is standing near us and I assume this was his nanny, but she said nothing to him other than to share with another little girl whining for the bucket. Undoubtedly, he doesn't listen to her either.) Natalie really wants her bucket at this point, and I ask for it back more sternly. He throws the bucket at her and misses, fortunately.
More bad behavior like this continues, like running up to Natalie and sticking his tongue out inches from her face while making a farting noise. That was harmless, and she thought it was funny, but it irritated me anyway.
I tried not to let this little hellion ruin our time at the park but I just felt anxiety while there. What's he going to do next? Is he going to do something to hurt her?
I could have handled the situation differently, I know. I could have asked to know who was looking after the boy and told her about his actions. It seemed petty to confront her about it and I didn't know what to say.
"Hey, the kid you're with is a shithead who keeps picking on my daughter, please control him."Was the best I could think of, and I'm pretty sure things wouldn't have gone over well had I said that.
I know children have their own distinct personalities and some just so happen to be more aggressive than others. I also know that a lack of discipline and failing to address poor behavior results in a child who does whatever he/she pleases. I don't really blame the boy for his actions, it is the nanny's fault for not being observant and redirecting the boy's behavior. I assume the shortcomings take place at home with the parent's as well.
Principle of the story is to keep your children in line. Give them rules, structure and for goodness sake, stop ignoring bad behavior. It seems like a simple solution to avoid raising a brat who has no respect for others.
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