With her golden tendrils and perfect pink bow, she exuded such innocence and sweetness.  Like most little girls that frequent our park, she wears perfectly-paired outfits from Gymboree, maybe Janie and Jack.  Necklace to match.  Accessories to the playground…heh.  I personally consider it a good day if I can find matching socks for the kid.

Yesterday, a few minutes after we arrived at the park, Jack noticed the well outfitted 4-year old little girl and the other little children that were following her around.  As usual, he follows the joy, the laughter and more often than not, the bigger kids.

Oblivious to the “personal boundary” rule, Jack desperate to win the little girl’s attention and fit in like the other kids following her around like little ducklings, got in her face and giggled to let her know that he was having a good time .

Surprised by my 1.5 year old’s bubbly demeanor and abruptness, the little girl stopped in her tracks and positioned herself squarely and scowled.

Not getting the hint, Jack proceeded to laugh and play, believing that he fitted in with the older kids–the same ones he always wants to follow around.

Determined to get her message across to my little guy, the little girl then screamed, “GET AWAY. I DON’T WANT YOU NEAR ME,” loud enough for everyone in a 3 block radius to hear.

And then, she went over the top.

*smack* then SHOVE and another “GO AWAY” to get her point across.

Yup.

She smacked and then shoved a smaller kid to the ground—MY KID.

Even worse, this wasn’t the first time she’s done this.
playing in the parkCompletely unaffected by what just happened, Jack laughed, brushed it off and ran off in a different direction.  Me, on the otherhand?  I had nothing to laugh about.  Especially since that bratty kid’s mom was huddled in the opposite corner talking or texting or whatever.

We see the same faces, day in and day out, and this little girl is just one of the many familiar faces.  I’ve tried to make small talk with her mother, Jack has tried sharing his toys with the little girl, but nothing.  Not a single ounce of warmth has ever been reciprocated—quite asshole-ish not very neighborly, if you ask me.

At first, I was pissed at the kid, but then looked at her mother and re-shifted my angst.  The girl is doing what she knows.  Clearly she doesn’t like my boy.  And that’s fine, we’re entitled to like and dislike whomever we please.  But when your bigger kid is being outright nasty and bullying a toddler who wants to befriend you, I feel that it’s the parent’s place to intervene.

Like I said, this wasn’t the first time.  This was like the tenth time something like this has happened with this same girl.  However, this was the first time she actually pushed him down.  The first few times were hard to swallow, but this time, I just could not do it.  How do you tell your toddler that a bratty kid doesn’t like him?

You don’t.

I let Jack play for a few more minutes and then told him we had to go home.  I wanted to go home; I needed to diffuse this situation that had me fumed.  I packed him in the stroller, said goodbye to our friends and made our way home.

I wanted so badly to tell that other mom that she was an asshole.  I mean, who lets their kid push smaller kids and repeatedly say mean things like that?  Oh yeah, moms who are preoccupied with social hour or texting on their phones.  But really, I’m sure that mom is a nice person, it’s just how she handled that specific scenario—or lack thereof—left much to be desired.

Let’s be clear here:  I am hardly the barometer for ideal parenting.  But if there’s anything I try to be in tune with, it’s how my spinningchild interacts with others.  Who would want their kid to be that kid.  Jack is weathering the hitting stage, he’s in the MINE phase and I’m sure there will be even more…but since our playground is also part of our social scene, we have to do what we can to ensure that everyone has fun. That’s how the playground works, folks!

Kids will be kids.  They’re going to roughhouse and get excited.  In fact, Jack’s been pushed and tousled by other kids so much over the past few months. Because he’s such a friendly and sociable boy, he has no problem attempting to befriend others, especially big kids.  Big kids usually want nothing to do with him, but Jack keeps trying.  I intervene when my in-your-face kid pushes or hits, just as I expect parents to do the same if their kid says and does offensive things.  For the most part, other parents, sometimes nannies too, will do the right thing and correct their kid.

But not this kid or her mom.  Nope, not them.

There are so many unwritten rules regarding our playground etiquette–you must dress accordingly (semi-fashionable i.e., my “I Vote for Happy Hour” t-shirt would be frowned upon); if you bring toys, your kid must share them with the other kids’ excessive cell phone usage while you’re supposed to be spending quality time with your kid isn’t well received; and if your bratty kid is acting up, you need to step in!

We all just “know” the rules–it’s common sense when you spend so much time in the same area with the same families.

It’s obviously not my place to tell other parents how to discipline their kids, but I promise you, the next time that kid pushes my kid, you bet your ass I’m saying something to the mom, even if it means that we’re ostracized from our playground.  Intervening isn’t the same as helicopter-parenting.  There’s no mistake about that.  Especially when your kid doesn’t know right from wrong yet!

And to think, the playground was once an outlet of fun and feeling carefree.  Or to go even further, a few years ago, I’d consider someone like myself who gets worked up over something like this, well, an asshole.

Funny how life works.