When you become a parent (especially for the first time) you are constantly thrown into situations where you just have no idea what to do and sometimes say.
You have a newborn that just won’t stop crying….it might take you a few hours or days to figure out that the little one has bad gas or just likes to be held in the football position. You have a toddler who is scared of the dark…you might find a book that helps or finally find the perfect nightlight in the shape of Elmo (after purchasing four that didn’t work).
In some situations you might find yourself searching for the right words for your parents, in-laws, friends and even strangers when they might be judging your parenting or even your kid.
This week I found myself in this kind of situation with a complete stranger at a MyGym class with Lily. My baby was literally attacked by another kid not once but THREE times by another child. In this situation I was shocked, hurt, freaked out and beyond pissed that I had no clue on how to appropriately handle the situation at that time.
The first attack happened in the first five minutes we got there. Lily and I walked over to a corner to say hello to my friend Elisa and her twin boys, good friends from our playgroup. In that corner there was a little girl playing on a small trampoline and I noticed that Lily started to walk over towards her. I kept a side-glance on Lily because she loves to jump and really doesn’t think twice about climbing on if another kid is trying to jump. My heart literally froze when I saw this little girl lean over and with both hands grab at Lily’s chest. She squeezed and twisted her hands into Lily’s shirt and skin while trying to push Lily down. What made my heart freeze was the look on this kid’s face. Elisa saw the whole thing and after it happened agreed that it was terrifying to see the amount of pure hate that radiated from this other little girl. It wasn’t your typically toddler “I’m pissed that you took my toy” look…no her eyes faded out, lips curled and teeth grit into a “I’m going to kill you” look.
Shocked I told Lily it would be okay but to remember that only one person jumps at a time. Elisa immediately pointed out the kid’s mom who was on the opposite side of the gym, just chilling on the floor completely oblivious and on her phone. Since it was a one-time situation and I had no clue who the kid was I didn’t say anything. Now I understand that Life happens and that sometimes we might get a call or text from a loved one that you pay attention to. So even though I was annoyed that the mom wasn’t there to talk to her crazy kid, I just let it go because who knows what kind of issues she might have dealing with. BUT regardless of whatever was so important on the phone, the mom should have at least been close by and keeping an eye on her kid.
Five minutes later Lily proceeded to walk up a carpeted plank and I noticed that the same little girl was at the top of the landing. Elisa and I gave each other a knowing glance and I walked over closer to Lily just in case. Well before Lily could even make it to the top, the little girl dug a hand into Lily’s hair…digging her nails into Lily’s scalp and proceeded to tug her head back and forth. Time seemed to stand still, when I lunged over to Lily. I looked at the little girl giving her a stern “No” and immediately the little girl’s face switched from that terrifying evil look into a “oh shit I’m caught” face. Besides Lily’s ponytail being a little messed up she was physically okay, but her face broke my heart. She looked confused and hurt. Her eyes looked up to me in a pleading “Mommma what happened?” glance and then my heartache turned to anger in a second.
This ramp was actually on the side of the gym where this mom had decided to park her butt on the floor so she finally heard the commotion and walked over asking “what happened, what’d she do? Did she push her?” In the most calm voice I could muster I said, “No she tried to rip her hair out.” I must admit that I said it calm but with a slightly pissed undertone. The lady quickly said Sorry but without real empathy and quickly followed with “Well she has an older sister and she was just standing her ground.” I was seeing red at this point that she was offering that as an excuse and not even scolding her child for this totally inappropriate behavior. It took every ounce not to go off on this woman, so I picked Lily up and walked back over to my girlfriend Elisa….who was also shocked and pissed as well.
Ten minutes later Lily was playing with a piece of gym equipment and having fun socializing with another little girl. The two were speaking gibberish to each other and I glanced over to her mom giving her an “OMG this is too cute” smile. That faded instantly when that little girl crawled away and the girl who had attacked Lily twice crawled in next to her. Lily’s whole demeanor changed and she now looked at the girl with a scared face. To see that face on my child broke my spirit but at the same made me furious. I looked for the kid’s mom and this time she was close by, but again she was knee deep into whatever was going on with her cell.
I made myself clear towards Lily but loud enough for the mom to hear when I said “Lily if that little girl isn’t going to play nice then lets walk away from her…” Before I could even finish the girl leaned over to Lily and pushed both hands into her stomach in attempts to knock Lily onto her back. I quickly leaned into the equipment to pull her out while repeating myself again. The mom was still focused on her phone…oblivious to her kid. I did notice that my girlfriend Elisa at this point was informing one of the gym teacher about this kid. A mom standing next to me wispered “That was my daughter last week.” So knowing that this child was a repeating offender made me even more pissed off.
Lily started to point to the door and repeated “Go…Go”. Lily no longer wanted to stay and play. She ran to the gate to leave and I followed her running into the gym teacher where I told her I was seeing red and having a hard time controlling my anger. I picked Lily up and tried to calmly coax her into staying. While rocking her on my hip I turned to see the little girl lean over some equipment to attack yet another kid. This time the gym teacher was there and immediately grabbed her and the mom came over. No clue what was said, but knowing the teacher she had to at least have said something that informed the mom and kid that it was wrong and not allowed.
It made me sick to my stomach that even after knowing her kid attacked Lily even that one time (since she was oblivious to the two additional times) and now being caught by the teacher attacking a different kid…the mom let her kid stay and continue to run around the gym. There is no question that if Lily was the aggressor I would have taken her immediately out of the equation. Lily never warmed back up to wanting to play so we ended up leaving. Even more upsetting is that when I got home I noticed that Lily had some claw marks on her back from when the girl had attacked her. My poor Lily.
Like most situations I’ve had time to think over what happened and have come up with so many things I wish I had said or done. I wish that after the second time the girl attacked Lily that I informed the mom that it wasn’t the first time, since she was in lala land. I wish I had told the mom that her ‘older sister excuse’ was not good enough and that it was inappropriate. That no two year old should approach another child with so much hate. I wish I had confronted the mom after the third time. Telling her she should take her daughter home.
Part of me hopes that this mom and kid are at the gym next week. So I can have some kind of redemption and be that strong protector for my daughter. BUT of course part of me hopes that we never run into them again. As much as I wish I could have said/done something else…I’m actually proud that I kept my cool. With Lily being so freaked out I thought it was more important to focus on turning her frown upside down.
As angry as I was at that child for hurting Lily…she is just a child. I actually feel horrible that in her mind that was her idea of normal. I wonder how her home life must be with an older sister who must bully her and with a mom that might look the other way.
I was totally unprepared for this situation. I didn’t think Lily would be running into a physical bully at the young age of two. I wish Lily could continue to live in a bubble of my protection with rose-colored glasses. This situation was a bit of a wake up. Unfortunately we all know that growing up is tough. Kids will run into plenty of similar situations from elementary school to college. Hell there really isn’t an age limit to bullies.
The one positive thing I walk away with from this experience is that while Lily was physically attacked, at no point did she get physical back. I’m glad that at two she still knows love more than hate. I just hope that she will always have more love in her life than hate.
(BTW all these photos are from last year’s Halloween costume party at her gym…where Lily had a blast with her buddies)