Friday, August 08, 2008

The Playground Incident (x2)

Here it is Friday already and I've hardly updated the blog since Sunday. We've been busy. What else can I say? We had some old friends over on Monday--my roommate Holly and her husband--that I haven't seen for a number of years. Rachel didn't go to bed until around 9:00. On Tuesday we had our farewell party at Andrew's parents' house (pictures forthcoming). Rachel didn't get to bed until 10:30. On Wednesday we went to the temple and Rachel actually got to bed on time. Today we moved our furniture and Rachel, again, didn't get to bed until after 10:00.

We're just trying to adjust her to an Arab schedule. Stay up late, sleep in the afternoon.

In addition to turning her into a night owl (at least, more of one than she was before) the playground has decided to curse us with bad experiences so that Rachel won't want to return to a playground ever again. Parks are few and far between in Cairo, so this may end up being a blessing in disguise, although I would like to enjoy the park while we still can.

On Tuesday we went out to the park early in the morning, right after daddy left for work. Rachel was happily playing, going up and down the stairs, braving the slide, and doing a little swinging, when she saw some dogs.

As I mentioned, Rachel likes dogs...from a distance. So she got all excited and pointed at the dogs, and made what I think was a barking noise.

The owner, trying to be nice, thought that she'd let Rachel meet the dogs. I tried to explain that Rachel is actually rather frightened of dogs and that she just enjoys looking at them from a distance.

This dog owner, though, is one of those dog owners who thinks that her dogs are the nicest, sweetest things and that everyone should love them as much as she does. So she opened the gate to the park and let her dogs inside to run around.

Rachel stood there, almost hyperventilating, so I picked her up, all the while telling the lady that my baby really doesn't like dogs.

"Oh, but she looked so excited to see them," she said.

Does she look excited now, lady, now that she's clinging to me for dear life and hiding her face on my shoulder?

"They're really nice dogs," she continued, "Just let her down to pet them."

Right. By this point the dogs are running around in circles and Rachel is superglued to my hip--I was probably not helping her hysteria any since I was on the verge of a panic attack, myself.

I tried to politely decline when one of the dogs started barking, which started Rachel screaming. Tears were streaming down her face and she kept moving her hands to alternatively cover her mouth and her ears.

"I didn't mean to scare her," the lady apologized, "I just thought she'd like to meet my dogs..."

The lady took her dogs inside and I tried to get Rachel to continue playing. She wouldn't let me put her down, though. She kept screaming and wiping her nose on my shirt. She was a complete mess. Shaking and tear-stained she kept pointing towards home. I had no choice but to follow her little index finger and head for home.

She's never actually wanted to go home before and she didn't ask to go outside again that day. If I had any hope of raising her to not be afraid of dogs before, I certainly don't have any now!

But by the next day, she was ready to brave the world again. So I took her to the park. It was deserted off all animals--canine and human--so Rachel and I could do whatever we wanted.

She was just in the middle of climbing up the stairs for the umpteenth time when a little boy, about three, and his older sister, who was old enough to have lost a few baby teeth, joined us.

Rachel had just made it to the top of the platform and was clapping for herself when the little boy ran up the stairs and pinched her, hard, on the neck.

"Oh, let's be nice," I said in my nicest I'm-reprimanding-you voice.

The little boy pinched her again, quite maliciously. Rachel was unsure about what to do.

"Leave my baby alone," I said, firmly.

He grabbed her around the neck. My mother-bear instincts kicked in and I actually snarled at this child that I had never before seen in my life.

"HEY! You leave my baby alone!"

He backed away.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he said.

"That's okay," I said, switching back to good cop, "She's just a little baby, though. You have to play nice with her."

And he did. For about five minutes. They walked around on the platform together and he showed her how to go down the slide and walk across the bridge. And then, for absolutely no reason at all, he walked up to Rachel and shoved her.

Seriously, she was just standing there, minding her own business, holding onto the pole and walking around in circle. This boy walked up to her, put both of his arms out and shoved her in the chest.

She flew backwards and landed on her back and immediately started howling.

"That's it!" I said, once again in my mother-bear voice, "We're going home! You're not being nice!"

I ran up the stairs, scooped up my baby, and headed off for home. Rachel and I were both covered in her snot by the time we got in the door. She, once again, cried the whole way home.

I hope that that is an appropriate way to deal with a playground bully. It's the way I've been dealing with bullies my whole life.

Get an adequate distance away, tell them that their behavior is inappropriate, and then hightail it out of there.

I even used this tactic with my grade four teacher!

Still, I don't know if it's the best way to deal with a bully. How would you deal with a playground bully? Or better still, how would you teach your child to deal with a playground bully without becoming a bully themselves?


  1. You were up early posting! Sorry for the less-than-fun playground incidences!

  2. I can not belive a random 6 yr old would do that to such a small child... I would have left too.

  3. Was this boy's parents no where around? You seemed like you were very nice in the way you handled the situation. I think I would've been much more rude, especially if he was hurting my child. But that's a hard call.

  4. Oh by the way, that was Diana, not Richard. I'm sure he would be much nicer than me too.

  5. I'd ask him (or the other little girl) where their mother was... if close enough, I would walk them back home and tell her. If not, I would put my threatening voice on and glare while I insinuated that I should speak to their mother.

  6. WOW! I'm glad I wasn't there - I probably would've slapped that kid so hard! Whew! I don't know how to deal with bullies. I yell at the kids at the costa vida playroom place and my friends think I'm mean but I'm not going to let them walk/kick/step on my baby! That kid was pretty horrible too it sounds like! If you know his mom I'd probably find a way to mention it... although if she didn't care that'd probably anger me to no end!

  7. I usually treat bullies the same way I treat my own kids. I tell them to stop what they are doing, threaten them with something they hate and inflict it upon them if they decide to do it anyway. It's harder with other people's kids, though. It usually involves the mom and if she's not around I would have done exactly what you did. PS When do you guys take off for Egypt? According to my inner clock it should be really soon, right?

  8. Definitely tell his mom. Not only to get him in trouble, but because if that was my kid, I'd want to know.

  9. I'm glad it wasn't me. I have less and less patience as I grow up, and probably would have landed myself in the hoos-gow by punching a 6-year-old...