Wednesday, May 05, 2010

"Kids will be Kids!"

Why is it that the parents of bullies often have this attitude? I've heard it said more than once, coming from the mouth of the parents of bullies.

Lord of the Flies comes to mind. Perhaps kids WILL be kids, but its the parents job to civilize them, and teach them a better way.

Yesterday, I really blew it. Or maybe I did not blow it. Maybe I finally did what I should have been doing all along. Except I did it in the wrong way. Oh so wrong.

You see, my kids have been being bullied. Again. Still. They are bully magnets, which kids who are on the spectrum usually are. In this case, my younger two are the ones on the receiving end, although B has also been the recipient of some ugliness (she mostly manages to avoid it by staying away from kids in the neighborhood) and M is often confused by these same children being nice one minute and mean the next.

My kids are such easy targets. And they get upset easily.

Eric's been chased down my a kid on a bike on more than one occasion. Ariana has had her scooter forcibly ripped out of her hands and taken away from her on more than one occasion.

If my kids go outside with a ball or a toy, there's a good chance that that toy will be taken away from them and a game will be played of the "keep away" variety, in which my kids are subtly left out or left in the dust. All in the innocent name of fun and games, or course.

So yesterday it was sidewalk chalk. Ariana came inside crying. Such and so had stolen her sidewalk chalk. (later I found out that this girl was deliberately baiting A, and doing the little "shoulder push/gentle hitting" thing to egg her on, and taunting her once she started getting upset that she should just go on home. Control of the play ground.)

And after months of me trying to teach non-resistance, of turning the other cheek, of peacefulness, I lost it. Completely lost it.

I ran outside. I yelled at the kid in question. She started taking off in the opposite direction and I (I'm' such a grown up) chased after her. Yelling. And here comes her mother.

Two mama bears, facing off. With a smug and blinking nine year old in the middle. I yelled at the mom. I was so angry. I was yelling. She had to make me calm down. Eventually I did. So we had somewhat of a conversation about it. Of course, this was the first she'd ever heard of any sort of bullying.

But it won't be the last. From now on, I'm knocking on that woman's door every time her kids are nasty. She invited me to do just that. I doubt she really wants to know how often it's happening. Maybe it will put a stop to the bullying. Maybe it will be a "who is going to believe which kid" hopeless situation. She seemed to want to shove all the evil off onto her older daughter who was not there. Again, the nine year old was looking pretty smug. I always thought the younger one was at least as nasty as the older sister, if not slightly more so. Manipulative little liars.

I pointed out that my kids are on the autistic spectrum and were at a disadvantage in the "kids will be kids" arena.

And I feel really bad from more than one angle. 1. That I have not stuck my neck out to confront this situation a lot sooner. 2. That I do such a piss-poor job of it when I do finally confront the situation. 3. That I'm so afraid of people and of confrontations that I can't even effectively deal with a situation like this. and 4.) That I got so angry and yelled and really put myself at a disadvantage and made myself look like a loser and a fool (which titles I freely acknowledge that I fully deserve.)

How can I deal with this situation and help my kids to be safe? They want to move. I think I'm going to be reading a book on my back patio when the kids dare to venture forth outside a lot more often from now on. Oh God, help me!

10 comments:

Hezra said...

oh sweet friend! I am so so sorry. I had an episode like this a few days ago at a public park. MY kids weren't involved, thankfully, they were playing further away. But this one kid who was 13 maybe(and small for that--he kept saying he was 14) was so vulgar, rude,and abusive. It was just awful. I stood up to him against the smaller kids HE was bullying. I was shakey I was so angry! I thought where ARE this kids parents? Then I realized, oh, if you met them, it would be possibly just a bigger version of him. I am so sorry it happened. I will be praying for peace for you and for clarity on what to DO. ((hugs))

elizabeth said...

Lord have mercy. This is hard Alana. You have had so many things to try to keep track of that it is really hard to stay on top of things.

This is a really hard situation but I think with God's help, prayer, support of others (and in my mind reading material!) you can figure out how to deal with the situation.

Speaking of books... (I am a librarian by trade you know!)

I have been reading a book on Assertiveness ... really interesting and needed for me as I have to grow in this area. One of the differences, from what I am learning, is between assertiveness and aggression... perhaps you can read up on this? I have been reading a retro book on it called _Don't Say Yes When You Want to Say No_ by H. Fensterheim and Jean Baer.... has opened my eyes to this part of survival in our world as it is now...

Have been reading some others books (hope to eventually blog about them) but meanwhile I think they could really help give you some perspectives on other things that are going on for you. If you'd like, send me an email at roosjeblog@yahoo.ca and I will be happy to tell you more about them...

Meanwhile my love to you, a big but still gentle *hug* and my small prayers.

Theron said...

Kids learn to be bullies from their parents. My oldest son had a problem a few months ago being bullied by his friend's mother. Every time he got of the school bus, she was yelling at him. She even showed up in my driveway twice to yell at me about him. All because I would not allow him to invite her son over to play after school (wonder why??)! I had to finally take him off the bus and limit all activities with the little boy because it got so out of hand. The other parents at the bus stop also were making comments which made me feel horrible because I had tried to take the peaceful route for a couple of weeks. In the end, I make it clear to her (in probably not the best way) that I had better not be told that she was yelling at my children again. Children learn how to treat others by watching their parents. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, so to speak.

Victoria said...

Do you know, I bet Condoleeza Rice or Hillary Clinton couldn't deal with this kind of thing any better than you could. Compared to playground brats, Ahmedinajad is probably the soul of rationality and gentleness.

No wisdom here, I'm afraid...just empathy, from a former skinny bookish kid with glasses. I'm really sorry....

Rebecca said...

Hugs! Bearing in mind that I've not yet had to deal with this situation as a parent ... I'm thinking I'd be in with you on the reading the book outside when the kids are out, and maybe even slip in my little digital camera and get a video of the behavior if it happens to pop up -- so it's not which kid do we believe.

Alana said...

Unfortunately, Theron, I was the one yelling this time. :-(.

And yes, I do need to read up on assertiveness and learn how to be assertive. I'm horribly non-assertive with people who are not in my immediate family.

elizabeth said...

You and me both Alana!! If you find any good books on assertiveness, I will be all ears...of course I need to continue also with the one I found thus far...

Don't beat yourself up for yelling; at least you did something! I find sometimes I let myself berate myself so much that I paralyze myself from further action.

*hugs*... (and I was bullied too btw...)

Tabitha said...

Hugs to you and to the kids, Alana. Been there done that. I too am so non-assertive that I cannot seem to bring myself to face a situation until I blow my stack and then I have to face the fallout of having sinned as well. I lost a babysitting job this way once. Sad thing is the parents in question still hardly speak to me and (I assume) still view the thing as my fault for yelling at their daughter who had made an almost daily habit of bullying my daughter.

What's worse, I follow the same pattern with my husband and children. I swallow my feelings and bottle it up until I suddenly explode all over everyone. Half the time it really is my fault for trying to ignore a situation in the hope it would just go away.

For the past two months I have been paying for a stranger to send me pictures on my cellphone. All I had to do was call and explain the mistake and politely ask for it to stop. But no, I waited and stewed and finally received a call from her and kinda blew up in the poor stunned woman's ear! (I still want to know how someone sends texts for two months without realizing the recipient isn't getting them.)

I don't even make normal family business phone calls without huge amounts of procrastination because it involves calling strangers! Seriously I think I must have a problem. I even have trouble broaching subjects with my friends when it involves decision making or asking for favors!!

My head tells me turning the other cheek may be the right response the first time and a calm and frank face-to-face is the right thing the second and subsequent times. Preventative measures like sitting outside are also great for recurring situations. But even knowing that, I have a really hard time living up to it. I wish you all the best. I sincerely hope you find a way to work this out for everyone's sakes. May your God give you all the calm assertion you need!

Dollymama said...

I'm so sorry this happened! You did the best you could. As imperfect as it may have been, now you have communication open with the mother of these children, and that is a good thing. I am not comfortable with confrontation, but for me it has gotten much, much easier as I have gotten experience with it. It has been awkward and painful at times for me to go ahead and have hard conversations with others, but in the long run it has helped me learn that it is possible to develop this skill and do what needs to be done. Hang in there! You are a GREAT mother who advocates for her children. Be brave. {{{hugs}}}

Anonymous said...

Three cheers for you Alana! I think you did great, although I wish you could somehow have wiped the smug look off the kid's face! I think it would be a good idea to be around when they go outside, as well as teach your kids to "fight back"; bullies are essentially cowards, and just need to be faced down. That's my opinion anyway.