Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Bullies on the Playground

Today we went looking for a fun park to play at after school. I had to go by the post office so we went just down the street from there to the playground near the fields where we played Blastball last year. There were some kids out on the playground so Nicholas was excited to stop there. I sat on a bench with Rachel while Nicholas climbed on the equipment. Soon I heard one of the boys calling Nicholas a baby. One of the other boys told Nicholas that he was in second grade and that he was a big boy. They both continued to call Nicholas a baby and ignored him. I wanted to rush in like a mama lion defending her cub and grab up my little guy but I held myself back to see how he would handle it. He was just fine. He responded to the boy, "Well, I'm in 4 1/2 grade!" He obviously doesn't understand that one's grade is not the same as one's age. Then he thought he would one up them even more and said, "No, I'm in twentieth grade!"

The boys just kind of ignored him and he eventually came over to me. He told me that those boys were being bullies. I told him he was right that they were bullies and that we should probably leave to go find another playground. Nicholas said that he wanted to stay there and maybe the boys would start playing with him. I tried to explain to him that those boys were just too much older to play with and that if he wanted to stay at this playground then he could just go play on another piece equipment by himself. He did but soon the boys went over to where Nicholas was and started climbing up on the equipment. I loaded up Rachel and walked over to them to tell Nicholas it was time to go.

As I walked up, one of the boys had the nerve to come up to me to tattle that Nicholas had called him a bully. I refrained from saying what I was feeling and politely told the boy that I agreed with Nicholas' assessment of the situation. I asked him to think about how he might feel if he wanted to play with some boys on the playground that were 4th graders and instead those boys just called him a baby. I suggested that if they didn't want to play with him then they should just leave him alone and not follow him around the playground. Nicholas came over to me and as we were starting to leave Nicholas again said that maybe we could come back later and the boys will want to be his friend. My sweet but naive little guy! We left but of course we didn't go back. Instead we had a great afternoon playing at Kids Kastle. Nicholas made several new friends and Mommy made a new friend too.

Most of us have had to deal with a bully at some time during our childhood. They can be very hurtful. It's so hard being a parent. It breaks your heart for anyone to tease your child. You want to swoop in and rescue him but at the same time you want him to learn how to handle these tough situations on his own because you know you won't always be there when he's confronted with a bully. All you can do is teach your child how to be kind to others, how to keep themselves safe, and pray for God's protection over them. “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6

There is a great book that I picked up at The Source bookstore a while back. It's called, "The Power of a Praying Parent" by Stormie Omartian. The book includes thirty chapters covering different stages and ages of childhood and includes specific prayers to address the issues of that stage. I've found it helpful on several occasions when I felt like I just couldn't put my thoughts together enough for a prayer for my children.

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