Like most moms, I can easily turn into scary mama bear when somebody threatens to, or actually hurts my child.
There have been times at the park when I’ve had to hold myself back from knocking a 12 year old on his butt for shoving my son, E, a not-so-little 4 year old. But I don’t, because I have always taught my kids that hitting is never OK, and to walk away from people who are being mean.
And I guess it would set a poor example if I side-checked a kid into the wood chips.
Sometimes I think “just wait until E is bigger than you and can fight back”; but, then I instantly remind myself that I would never want to get that phone call from school (or the police!) that my son is in trouble for fighting. No matter how much that bully might’ve deserved it, my hope for E is that he doesn’t get physical with anybody.I want to give him the tools to respond to somebody who is bullying him, so that he can feel like he is standing up for himself in a positive way. It’s hard to explain to a 4 yo what it means to be the “bigger person”, and honestly I had hoped it would be a while before I had to.
We have been very fortunate to have E attend a daycare center where he’s made wonderful friends and has had caring and supportive teachers. Which is why I was very troubled when E told me in the car on the way home one afternoon that “Frank (not real name) hits me a lot.“ I was so upset I wanted to turn around, go back to the center and give this other boy and his mother an ear-full. But, in that moment, I had to be there for my son. My young son who doesn’t understand why a “friend” would chose to be mean. Who doesn’t understand why he’s told he can’t hit, but another kid can. I’d love to tell him “some people are just jerks”, but I doubt that would’ve made him feel better, or helped the situation.
And then I thought about this other little boy, Frank, and I felt even more sad. What could possibly be going on at home for this child, to hit and say terrible things to his classmates, at only 4 years old? Is this the kind of feedback he is receiving from the adults in his life? I never expected to have sympathy for someone who bullied my son. Then again, I never expected to see so much anger in such a small person.
My thoughts went from how I could stand up for my son and reprimand this youngster?, to how could I be a positive role model to this troubled child?