Friday, August 10, 2012


Today was a glorious day of family time that consisted of a long visit to the playground, baking with Mama, a pool noodle fight around the house, celebrating a friend's birthday and ending with a piece of cake and a happily squealing toddler running down Mass Street. 

Lately the wind down for naptime or bedtime has been close to catastrophic every day, which is a phase we've visited before, but that doesn't make it any easier. On the drive home I tried to make it easier by going through the play by play of our day. When we talked about our time at the playground, she chimed in, "No, No, No!" amongst a wordy toddler rant I coudn't understand much of. I did know what she was talking about though.

While we were at the playground Daddy and Bella were playing chase and climbing on the equipment. Another mom had sat down next to our things so I sat on the same bench to be close to our stuff while I waited for them to wrap up their play time. She started talking to me and asked me how old Bella was. I responded and she excitedly said, "Oh, so is my daughter! (child's name), see that little girl? She's the same age as you! You should play with her!" To be honest, that was a little annoying. Bella was playing with her daddy on our designated family weekend (because daddy will be out of town next weekend). And besides that, I knew how coercing Bella to play with someone she didn't know would turn out. She's not a child that jumps in and plays with anyone - that's just not her personality. This mom and her daughter obviously did not have the same personality as Bella. 
Palmer stood aside and of course, Bella looked down and turned her shoulder when the girl approached her. Not that there's anything wrong with that! She's an observer and doesn't respond to social interactions like that, unless it's a rare occasion which normally involves too much sugar. 
The little girl hung around her but mainly did her own thing, as did Bella. Bella and daddy started to climb up the stairs of the equipment with the little girl trailing behind them and she suddenly got in front of Bella and yelled, "NO! You can't go up there!" I know I'm Bella's mommy, but this Mama bear was MAD when I saw the hurt on Bella's face. It took me a minute to realize what was going on because this mother was filling me in on all 3 of her pregnancies and deliveries, but hearing her burst into tears and seeing the look on her face made me bristle. At the same time, Bella has done that to Emmett so many times, I know this is also potentially a learning experience for her. She'll hopefully understand what I mean when I say it hurts people's feelings when you boss them around and yell at them.
The little girl said it again and Bella came down the stairs to me crying. The little girl followed and the other mother told the little girl to say sorry. The little girl turned and ran away and the mom kind of laughed and said, "She's got a problem with being bossy." I said Bella did too with people she's comfortable with. Which is true, but I try hard to nip that behavior in the butt as soon as I see it. I know it's completely normal but I feel like part of parenting is teaching your children how to be kind to others, not shrugging it off.
So I was sitting there with my daughter crying in my lap thinking how I can justify this to her. I told her it was okay and to just keep playing with daddy. She walked over to daddy, who was also well aware of the situation, he was just waiting like I was to see what was going to happen next. She went back to daddy to have this little girl do this to her two more times, each time sending Bella into tears. Bella was a little more sensitive than normal, where normally she may have either yelled back or quickly come to me to tell me what was going on. Today her reaction was to break down, which I totally understand - we all have those days. 
I was mad. Twice the little girl was asked to apologize, which she ignored, and another time she left what she was doing across the playground to bolt over to Bella to yell at her. The third time the mom just told me, "Oh, see, she's just doing it for the attention now." Ridiculous. 

We reached that line that every parent gets to at one point or another. Another child was picking on my child with the parent present but doing nothing - even making excuses! What do you do?? I wanted to tell the little girl to listen to her mom, to at least say she was sorry because her mom asked her to or because she's a nice girl and wants to do the nice thing. I wanted to tell her why NOT to yell at someone else like that. I wanted to point out how it was making Bella feel (which may have been the trigger for her to continue doing it, who knows). And finally, I wanted to tell her to freaking cut it out and stay away from Bella. Her mother was right there so I said nothing. Palmer in front of the mom was finally telling Bella, "Just ignore her, she's not being nice and you just ignore it and keep playing" which didn't do much to help her wounded feelings. I listened to the mom tell me about her Braxton Hicks contractions that really were labor pains and her recent camping trip and then finally heard Bella's little voice quietly say from a distance, "Mama! Eat, show, home!". Yes. Thank you Palmer for the wonderful suggestion - let's get the F out of here. 

In the car, Palmer and I were talking about the whole situation. I asked him when she had left her alone and Palmer said it was when she came over to yell no ANOTHER time that Palmer said, "Why don't you just go away?"...which she did. My first reaction was an "Oh Snap! You said that to someone's toddler!" and my second reaction was "THANK YOU!!" Thank you for standing up for Bella. For stepping in when the other mom wouldn't. That's so very important to me. Growing up I remember specific occasions where I or another child wasn't stood up for by an adult that should have and as an adult I see how it affected my feelings of self worth. It's important to me that Bella grow up being championed. That she know that her feelings are important, her worth is valuable and she learn to not be taken advantage of or belittled. 

I still am not sure how a situation like that can be handled. I'm paralyzed by confrontation so my initial reaction to anything is to do what I can to make it pass quickly. But this was very different. This involved my daughter. And I'm not sure a better way to say it, but at 2 and a half, her sense of "justice" (I use the word loosely) is understood. She knows when something isn't fair (although like any toddler, when things are leaning her way it doesn't matter if it's fair). She usually knows when she's being wronged and in that moment she knew she was. She knew she would have had to apologize or we would go home because she couldn't play nicely. She heard the mom tell the daughter to say sorry and saw the girl ignore her mom, which would have gotten Bella in big trouble for not listening. How do you explain the complications of " being fair" to her? 

Other than that hiccup in the day, we had a wonderfully fun time all day. And one good thing that's coming out of this is the potential for that hiccup to be a learning experience was proven to me in the car on the way home tonight. Bella recalled the little girl being mean to her and we talked about how it made her feel quite a bit. I hope I can learn how to stand up for her at the right times and handle situations like that in the future appropriately, whatever they be and whatever that looks like. 

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