Okay, I should start by telling you I didn’t actually YELL at the kid, but I did scold, and I did stop him from pushing Bugaboo. And the mom was Furious (with a capital F). And I don’t care because I would do it again.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
There was a bully on the playground. Every time Bug (or any other kid) sat down on the slide, he would run up behind and push as hard as he could. Sometimes Bug wasn’t sitting all the way down. Once she almost fell off the side.
She told him to stop, nicely. Then not so nicely. Then really meanly. But he didn’t stop.
I looked around to try to spot his parent. I couldn’t.
It got so bad another mom finally took her kids and left. But I didn’t want to leave; I wanted my kids to play, and I didn’t want them to be afraid.
I told him to stop pushing. I told him it wasn’t safe.
He laughed at me and ran away.
At last I climbed the stairs to the slides; surely, I thought, he would leave her alone if I was there. As I helped Bug sit down the kid ran past and tried to duck between us to push her.
That was the final straw.
I caught his wrist just before he shoved her. I told him he wasn’t playing safe, and if he wouldn’t stop he couldn’t play up there anymore.
Suddenly, finally, his mom appeared. She jammed her phone into her pocket and ran at me, screaming to never touch her son again. I calmly explained the situation. She, not so calmly, explained she wasn’t some “damn helicopter parent” and she wanted him to “fight his own battles” without her. She then told me exactly what she’d do to me if I ever so much as looked at her or her son again.
I didn’t want to get in to a screaming match, or worse, so we left.
But I don’t regret what I did.
I’m not a helicopter parent; I consider myself more of an armed spy drone: always watching and ready to fire if the situation gets to be more than my kids can handle themselves.
I gave the kids a chance to work it out. I gave the other mom time to get involved. When they didn’t, when she didn’t, I stepped in. I decided (I will always decide) the safety of my kids, of her kid, was more important than the politically correct “rule” to not discipline other people’s children.
But not everyone agrees.
I’ve told this story a number of times, and I’ve gotten a range of responses. Some parents applaud me, “Way to go,” they say, “You have to protect your own kids!”
But some, more than I would have guessed, listen to the story, shift uneasily, and awkwardly say, “Well, what did you expect; you DID put your hands on her kid…”
“Yes, but only to stop him. I didn’t hold him or hurt him. What was I supposed to do?” I defend. And they don’t seem to know, but they do agree they would have reacted to me the same because, “No one has the right to correct my kid but me.”
And I have to disagree.
I’m imperfect. I get distracted. I’m not always paying attention. I can’t see everything. I want to believe, as parents, we are bonded, we are a village, even if we don’t know each other.
If my kid is acting the fool, if she’s being unsafe, if he’s being mean, if they are breaking rules, and I, for whatever reason, am not aware enough to stop them– I want someone too. I don’t want them to be treated harshly, but I do want them to be corrected.
But maybe I’m wrong?
What do you think? I’d really love to know, so weigh-in in the comments section below– just remember to use your manners 😉
If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy: