Where we live there is a small play structure. My son (not exactly Mr. Innocent) is dealing with a group of kids who have officially blown my mind.
Tonight a girl (age 11) came to my door (for the second time today) and told me that they did not want to be yelled at anymore. I explained that I had not yelled at anybody, only told the kids who were gathered that bullying and chasing other kids was not acceptable behaviour. Her younger brother had chased my child into our apartment twice in a 15 minute period. One of her little group (she came with a backup of three other kids about the same age) said that the little boy was only four years old so the fact that he is chasing my son should not even be an issue. The leader of the pack then informed me that when children chase other children with sticks, they (the people that live in their building) don’t correct them because they are only four and have to learn.
I have dealt with these children for two days straight. So and so put up their middle finger…so and so said a swear word.
Last night I was out there and introduced myself and the words coming out of these children’s mouths was discouraging. Apparently, because my eight year old son ‘broke up with’ a nine year old girl by telling her he didn’t want to be her boyfriend, her brothers and sisters have been told it is for their safety for them to no longer play with him.
As I walked out I could hear the insults and name calling. As they saw me approaching, the younger kids began a chorus of tattling. I told them I was not interested in listening to tattles and that I know my son had done some things that were wrong and that I dealt with him. I only wanted everybody to play nicely.
I told them that he was out there to play, just as they were and that I was not there to give anybody trouble, just to watch my son play.
All the kids played together until the older sister (the one who was knocking on my door today) came out and said that they did not want to be my son’s friend. I told her nobody asked them to be friends, only to be respectful.
So tonight, when the little girl came knocking on my door telling me that I should just let her brother chase my son, I knew I could only lead by example.
I showed her respect, I made it clear that I understood her concern and that my only concern was to put an end to the bullyiing on both sides; from them and towards them from my son. As I said, I know my child is not exactly innocent.
She left the building more angry than when she arrived…
My heart hurts for her feeling like she has to parent these other children. For her to be put in a position that she acts like an out-of-control mom…at age 11…it’s so terribly sad.
The hardest part is she is not out there when this is happening either. Her siblings are out there alone and then report their version (which she takes as gospel). Ya, I remember being that age. I would be livid as well.
Every time she came to tell me something today I greeted her with a smile. I offered to shake her hand when I introduced myself last night…
I have told my son that from now on, when he goes outside to play I will join him. I will bring a book and sit near him while he plays. I also led him in a prayer for these kids to move forward and for forgiveness from God for the wrongs he has done in the last few days.
If this past two years has taught me anything, it is that everybody is living their own story and for the most part we have no idea what they are going through behind closed doors.
I don’t know these children or their families. I do not know their home situations just as their families do not know my son or his life story. Help me to remain compassionate and friendly in the face of their anger, hurt, and negativity.
Lord, help me be the calm in this storm of childhood playgroud issues.
Whatever You do God…help me to lead by example with Your love and grace.