Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mean Kids

You know how you fear something but hope it's far in the future so you forget about it, then all of a sudden, BAM, it's there and it's there big time and you have to deal with it instead of pretending it will never happen?

Yeah. MEAN KIDS. It happened.

There have been a few mean kids here and there in the past, but nothing that big, and Josie wasn't old enough to really get they were being mean to her. This past week, she got it. On three different occasions. 

Ugh times infinity.

I won't go through all the stories of how kids were mean to Josie. What they said doesn't really matter anyway. What will stay with me was the way she reacted. 

The first mean kid made her absolutely crumple -- her shoulders slumped, her face fell, and she walked away. I followed her and asked her what was up, and ... this kills me ... she said "Please don't look at me or talk to me" and hid her face.

I left her alone, but I was crushed. Not only was she obviously upset in a way that I was not prepared for yet, but this was the first time that she felt sad and didn't run to me for comfort. 

The next mean kid left her confused. She couldn't figure out why he was saying what he was saying, but she finally figured out what was going on, and she looked to me, silently asking me what was going on and what she should do.

And I guess I was just supposed to ... know? God, this poor kid. I had no idea. My first impulse was to punch the kid for talking to my kid the way he was, but since I'm writing this from the comfort of my living room instead of jail, you know I refrained.

The final incident included two kids and was the worst. It was outright bullying, and it led to Josie running over to me crying (while the kids chased after her, taunting her, no less). She flew into my arms and cried and asked me why they were calling her names and chasing her away from every part of the playground and not letting her play with anything.

I didn't have an answer for her. I just told her to tell them she didn't like they way they were talking to her, not to even worry about it, and go play away from them. 

Those kids continued to follow her around the playground, chasing her off of things and calling her truly awful names, WHILE THEIR MOTHERS WATCHED, in case you're wondering. But don't let me get started on that. That's a whole other post.

I'm just not ready for this. I never imagined I would have to worry about Josephine being sensitive. I know that sounds stupid, but she's just so fearless. I'm not ready for my confident girl to feel sad and unsure of herself. This sucks.

I think I handled all the events the "right way" in the moment, but I'm wondering if you all have any tips on things I should be saying after the fact and to prepare her for more future events. We have talked about it a little, but do any of you have some great advice on how to talk to your kids to ease the hurt, keep their confidence intact, and give them strategies to respond when it happens again?


  1. I am so filled with rage right now. those parents are goddamn lucky that I'm on the other side of the country right now.

  2. Re: the third incident; I have absolutely no problem sternly telling other children to leave mine alone, even if their parents are present. I'm a meanie. I don't tolerate my kids being rude to other children at playgrounds, and I won't let other kids be rude to mine. I've also passive-aggressively announced very loudly that WE are leaving and getting ICE CREAM since they have been SO GOOD even when OTHER kids are being NOT GOOD. It's possible I have made a mess for other parents not tending to their children. ;)

  3. It absolutely *kills* right? I have a 5yr old boy, and he is the type of kid who befriended the only non English speaking boy in his class...he just crumpled last week at the beach, these horrid kids kicked his sandcastle over twice. Their parents just sat there, so yeah I intervened and they thanked me with 'Oh I don't know why they're being such horrible shits, I wish other mum's would step in more often'

  4. Well having been a parent for a little longer- it only gets worse. Wait until first grade when you have girls lifting your daughter's shirt up to show boys what boobs are. It's awful. I never, ever remember things being like this for kids this young but maybe I've blocked it all out. I do know that I have absolutely, 100%, chewed out another parent for their lack of parenting. And I absolutely do call kids out. If their parent isn't going to do it and they are blatantly being mean to other kids? You bet your ass I'll let those kids know. Now kids are kind of scared of me when they see me in the hall. Because I absolutely will haul them down to the Principal's office. :)

  5. This is a bit of a delayed reaction because I'm still trying to find a replacement for Google Reader....

    And while I'm not a parent (so feel free to disregard), I've been both a vengeful older sister, a strictish camp counselor and a territorial babysitter, and I'm Team Intervene with the Kids. Carolyn Hax (my favorite advice columnist) will cite "it takes a village" to back me up. When the kids are in your orbit, a serious-faced but not "angry" "Hey, what's going on, guys?" and an "It's not ok to talk to little kids like that, we're all playing here" followed by playing with Josie on the playground equipment yourself (because the kids aren't going to pick on /you/) is what I'd suggest trying. You could go directly to the parents and say "Maybe the kids think it's all in good fun but Josie's finding X Y Z really upsetting" but if they're watching and it's obvious what's happening then they might be lost causes.

    For me the advantage of advocating for someone littler than me is that I don't usually feel the same kind of self-consciousness I feel when I try to stand up for myself.


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