Lesson Thirteen: To stand up or walk away?

My precious toddler MJ, not yet three, has recently encountered bullying.

At a small indoor café playground at our local shops MJ encountered two boys playing. One was big and one small, behaving fairly defensive over their side of the placid plastic crocodile that the children enjoy scrambling over. My intrepid MJ, curiously eying the boys, wasn’t put off by their serious looks and crossed arms, and climbed as close as she dared, bravely attempting to stake a claim alongside them.

I was feeding my baby (it is so hard to keep your eye on two different places), only to look over to see MJ lying sprawled out on the ground with the boys laughing (surely not at her). I didn’t want to rush to her if she didn’t need me, and apart from eyeing the boys off with a bit of a brave glare – she seemed okay.

I returned my attention to baby Amelia, and suddenly I heard MJ screaming and I looked to see her crying on her back, and the boys laughing and pointing at her.

As I rushed towards the bawling, I began to contemplate the idea of them laughing at her. Could they really be complicit in her tears?

I doubted myself, although the evidence was there. The boys were between three and five. Surely they can’t have hurt her and then be laughing about it?

As I raced to pick up my miserable girl, a nearby Mother confirmed my suspicions. Those boys had pushed her off the equipment and then laughed at her fall and consequent tears.

Matilda was sobbing and looking from me to the boys, and I took her in my arms, murmuring just to ignore them (how can a toddler understand such placations?).

Fuming, I marched around the playground looking for the parent of the little bullies. I did angrily approach one Mother watching the children, but she was in the clear. I couldn’t find them.

I took Matilda back to our table and consoled her with a kiss and a cuddle as I slowed my racing heart and realised that perhaps it was lucky for me that I hadn’t found them.

If I had, what would I have said?

▪               ‘Your child just pushed over my child!’ That sounded so accusatory, and lame.

▪               ‘Your child made my child cry’. What a whinger!

At a busy play area, with lots of Mums having coffee and chatting – would I really have been comfortable making a spectacle of myself in front of my girls?

Is this the right approach? Should we show our children that we would defend them, no matter what? In this case, confronting someone over the behaviour of his or her child. Readers of my blog know that I am against confrontation, but yet that was my first impulse, because someone had wronged my child!

Or should we show them that it is better to walk away and just get over these things…

To finish, I’ll look to that smooth crooner Craig David for parting advice. Way back in the beginning of the 21st century he explained his approach:

“I’m walking away from the troubles in my life

I’m walking away oh to find a better day

I’m walking away from the troubles in my life

I’m walking away oh to find a better day…”

I’m walking away…not quite a lesson, but an approach I feel happier about.

Any other ideas?

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About the author

Elissa De Heer

I have been studying on and off for years and have postgraduate degrees in English Literature (Masters) and Teaching (Masters), a Diploma in Editing, and a Certificate in English Language Teaching.

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