Saturday, April 19, 2008

Little bullies

This past glorious Thursday morning, I was walking the boys back from a post-nap, pre-lunch visit to the park. On the way to and from the park, we pass by my neighborhood's elementary school. Often when we are out we see kids out playing at recess. The boys absolutely love watching all the kids run and scream and play, and I like it too. It makes me think of what the boys will be like 5, 6, 7 years from now. Will they still be friends? Will they like playing tag, or prefer basketball or baseball? Will they be shy or outgoing? Will they be the kids doing a good job of getting filthy or the kids trying hard to stay clean (I think I already know the answer to this one)?

On this particular Thursday, I noticed three boys, about 7 or 8 years old standing off from the crowd, peering over their shoulders. It was clear to me they were up to no good, but what brand of no good I could not tell. I will call they boys by the color of their shirts, so as not to be confusing: white shirt, red shirt, navy shirt.

Navy shirt is sort of leading white shirt to the bottom of a small hill next to the fence, where the recess monitors cannot see what's going on. They are talking, navy shirt is looking over his shoulder up the hill. Red shirt come sauntering down, and starts talking to white shirt as well. Then he starts shoving white shirt in the chest.

At this point, everyone is smiling - looks like a bit of little boy roughhousing. But then, things take a turn. Red shirt grabs white shirt in a choke hold and begins punching him repeatedly in the ribs and head. Navy shirt is looking on, and being look out. It is clear to me that this is no bit of roughhousing, as white shirt is struggling to escape. This is a clear case of bullying, and two on one at that.

Just as I begin to yell over to the boys to break it up (I was across the street from the play yard) another child notices what is going on and alerts a recess monitor, who blows his/her whistle. Red shirt immediately stops his hitting white shirt and the three boys run up the hill.

I'm not sure how the boys were dealt with. But it made me think about the boys. Will they be the kid in the navy shirt, leading a victim into a trap? The kid in the red shirt, picking on and beating up other children in the play yard? Will they be the kid who gets bullied? Or will they be the one who comes to the rescue, alerting adults to the bullying situation?

I don't think the boys will be bullies - they are both much to sweet tempered for that. But it makes me scared for them, because if you're not a bully, chances are you're going to be bullied at some point in your life. I hope they are both armed with the tools to deal with these situations. I hope they know they have parents and other people in their lives that love them and that they can come to if they need support.

Right now, Oscar and Danny's lives are all about playing, loving, eating, learning new skills, and this hard work. But, I think being a kid gets harder and harder the older they get. And I think being a parent gets harder to. I hope I can meet the challenge.

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