April 19, 2012

the Stick incident

Kids- even toddlers- can be mean. It's unfortunate, but it's life.

Having a baby a toddler who is so smart and incredibly sweet, I want to preserve it all- the kindness, the sweetness, the innocence. I want to bottle it all up into little pills I can empty into my hand and give to her when she needs it. Because. She will need it. We all need it.

We stopped off at the park yesterday and surprisingly, it was pretty empty save for a mom, dad, 4 year old boy, and about 2 year old girl and their baby sibling tucked into an infant carrier. They sat at the entrance to the playground equipment: Mom was working on something in her lap, Dad was helping the Girl with some bubbles, Boy was whining to Mom that he wanted one of them to play with him.

"You have to learn to play by yourself," Mom snapped and Boy went running off toward Lovie and me.

"Can you play?" he asked Lovie, who, in turn, just looked at him smiling. "Do you wanna play with me?" he asked again before turning away from us and quickly zipping away.

Lovie looked at me and smiled and headed toward the big kitty litter box sand box. I took a seat at one of the picnic tables and watched.

A minute later the Boy was back and wanting to play in the sand with Lovie. When Mom caught wind, she barked, "Get out of the sand! I told you not to play in it!" before Dad came over to whisk him away. Lovie just looked at them all like they were from Mars and continued shoveling the sand.

Soon Mom was taking the kids out to the middle of the open grassy area of the park to fly a kite and Lovie tried following.

"I go wit my friends," she told me. 

The family wasn't interested in Lovie and she can't just up and go off anytime she pleases so I got her to start playing back in the playground. A few minutes later the Boy came back asking if we were leaving. After I told him that we weren't, he asked if Lovie wanted to play.

"She does want to play with you but she's not as fast as you are."

"Well how old is she?" he asked. "I'm 4. And I'm going to be 5, then 6, then 7-8-9-10!"

I chuckled and told him that she was 2.

And just like that, the Boy was off running and I tried getting Lovie to follow him but it didn't last long before she lost track of him and found interest in a stick. 

So Lovie was off playing with a stick, minding her own business, while the Boy was off playing by the water fountains when all of a sudden the Girl appeared. I was sitting on a bench watching, but I wasn't very close: The Girl walked right up to Lovie, smacked the stick out of her hand (but never touched Lovie), and yelled, "NO!" along with something else I couldn't make out.

Lovie immediately tucked her chin into her chest and just stood there. Frozen.

The Girl kept glaring at Lovie, even tilting her head to get a more direct, evil, taunting glare.

My heart raced and I, too, froze. Do I swoop in and tell the little brat that there was absolutely no fucking reason to do that? Do I shout from where I am? Do I let Lovie fend for herself?

The Girl didn't actually touch Lovie. I think that's what I was waiting for- a push or something. From the Girl, not Lovie because Lovie just isn't a fighter. At all. 

A year ago, Lovie would've started crying; I have no doubt. And while I wasn't sure what to expect her to do, how she would react, seeing her frozen there like that? Hurt. Bad. And I could feel the tears well in my eyes because my baby was hurting and because I just sat there, allowing it to happen. 

The whole exchange took all of one minute, tops, and soon the Girl took off running back out to both of her kite-flying parents who seemed to forget they had small children in a very open park setting. Lovie just remained frozen. She didn't cry, she didn't get her stick back, she didn't sit down, she didn't look for me. She just stood there. Completely defeated.

Slowly, I made my way over to her and asked if she was OK. She just looked at me and I could see it in her face- the emotional hurt she was feeling.

Lovie's a talker and doesn't have a problem expressing herself normally. But she said nothing about what happened. Nothing. I hate that she just took this "abuse." I don't want her physically pushing back, necessarily, but I do. not. want. her. taking. abuse. from. anyone.

"You're OK, honey," I said. "You want help building a castle?" I asked, placing her bucket nearby.

I wanted to tell her more, but I wasn't sure what else to say: People suck? People are assholes? Not everyone wants to play with you? She's 2. She thinks that everyone is her friend. Yes, some people DO suck. But until I can bottle up her pureness, she doesn't need to come to terms with the reality that people suck just yet.

taken within minutes of Stick incident

So instead, I sat right there by her side as she filled her bucket up with wood chips before running around the playground and making her way to a ladder and slide. And I smiled oh so proudly when she blew past the Girl on the ladder (without pushing or anything) and up the platform then down the slide, all while the Girl tried getting up the ladder.

"How old is she?" the Dad finally asked me.

"She's 2; end of December," I replied keeping my eyes on her feet in case one slipped from the thick metal rung.

"Oh," he said, trying to help his Girl figure out how to climb the ladder on her own.

2.) I thought my child was going to _______, but instead he/she _______.


  1. That's a toughie and I think I would have been as perplexed as you were about what to do. The Girl, however, was acting "appropriately" (bad choice of words, I know) for her age. Her parents, however, were not. They should have intervened as it was THEIR DAUGHTER'S behavior that was the problem. Sigh.....

    1. yes, Melinda, I agree- especially about the Girl. i know i called her a "brat" and i only meant that because, in the moment, it was upsetting... but i fully agree she was behaving like a +/- 2 year old would with no supervision...

      this stuff happens. i just wish it wasn't so early on, you know? i kinda like rolling around in the puppies and rainbows. ;)

  2. Stopping by from Mama Kat's...what a great post! My heart always twinges a bit when I see soemthing like this happen to my own daughter...and I get that lump in my throat when she looks at me and says But Mama, what I do to her? And though I know its age appropriate (great point by the way) it still sucks....so I just hug her and tell her she did nothing wrong its just that sometimes, just like she does, the other child lost her words and was not sure what to say...Oh, OK Mama, I hope she finds them she'll say....and she smiles, asks for a kiss and goes back to playing....and I hope, like you, hope for more puppies and rainbows!!!

  3. I would have stood there, frozen. Not sure how to react. I'm all for letting kids work things out, as long as no one gets hurt. Toddlers are so wonderfully hard.

  4. Oh, that is a hard thing to see. But I think I would have acted exactly as you did. :)

    -- Susan

  5. I'm always left wondering what to do in situations like this. I want my kids to learn to take care of themselves, but I want them to know i will protect them too. Finding the balance of knowing when or if we should step in can be kind of hard. I get pissed because I even have to think about that in the toddler years...uggg

    Your daughter sounds like an awesome little soul, and she's adorable to boot.
    hi from mk's


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