In our little town, we have three different playgrounds we can walk to. This being the teeny town it is, I don't have any problem with my 7 year old boys going to any of them and playing on their own. They tell me where they are going and I usually go pick them up when it's time to come home.
This week after school they took off on their bikes to the playground two blocks away and I told them I'd come get them later. About dinner time I drove down to tell them to head home and there are four other boys their age I recognize. I tell them to head home and Yip responds how that's a good idea because they were getting ready to get into a fight.
A fight? Oh, that can't be good.
During dinner I learn that "Alex", a third grader, was throwing rocks and kicking some boys and generally being a little jerk! Gggrrr...I didn't like the sound of this kid but I'd give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe Alex was just wanting to rough house and my boys misunderstood, but I told them to just leave the next time he bothered them.
Later in the week we are all at the playground when Alex and his buddy show up. I don't pay much attention at first but as we play I hear him make a few mean hearted comments. Nothing overt, more passive aggressive, and nothing so bad to get hollered at by me. And of course no rock throwing or kicking. He's a slick character this one.
But I WANTED to holler at this kid. I wanted to beat up this little punk kid who makes rude comments just to make a first grader feel bad about himself. I wanted to be mean back to him. I wanted to tell my boys that we were leaving right away and never playing near Alex again! Ggggrrr...Mama Bear was growling inside me.
But I muzzled her, because I can't go around protecting my kids from every bully that comes around. As much as I wanted to haul the boys away from Alex, we stayed because I knew that they needed to learn how to handle a bully without me. So I stayed covertly to the side and listened. I really don't like Alex now.
I'm not sure what Yip and Yap learned from that experience and I'm pretty sure they walked away with hurt feelings too. But I learned that it's hard to respond appropriately to my boys when Mama Bear is growling inside of me. It's even harder to say the right thing to my boys because I'm just not sure what the right thing is. I do know that I can't let Mama Bear do the talking.