I was so excited when we moved into our new home. We live down the street from the park where Jon and I both have fond childhood memories. It had become routine for Lucas, Liam and I to pack up in the morning and hit the park. We would spend a good part of the morning there and often eat a picnic lunch. It was a fantastic routine.
Sadly we have stopped going to the park as much. We live in a great neighborhood, we absolutely love it, but it seems but no matter where you go, parents just aren’t parenting.
Bullies At The Park
In our case it seems that most of these children were up at the park with parents or nannies, who were chatting on their phones, not really supervising the kids at all. On several occasions older kids came up to Lucas and pushed, hit threw dirt or moss on him, smashed his truck and said mean things, “like go away, I don’t like you.”
Lucas was not the only younger child this is happening to. Several at Lucas’ friends parents said that they had the same experience. (For the most part the toddlers his age are supervised.)
Now is this the everyday occurrence? No, absolutely not. But the fact that an older child is in anyway being mean to a much younger child is unacceptable. And the fact that this stuff was happening with me have hovering right over him (call me helicopter parent I don’t care) I would hate to imagine the things that would happen if I wasn’t!
In most of these cases I was able to talk to the child, redirect him and things were fine. It was clear the kid just needed some attention and guidance. However in once instance there were much older boys, and Jon was the one at the park. He redirected Lucas and told the boys that they were not going to throw Lucas’ truck or talk to him like that. Their parents were no where to be found.
Another mother, one of the regulars too, had her son come over and pay with Lucas and told Jon that the same thing had just happened to her toddler aged son. Luckily, Lucas has yet to really get too upset or have his feelings hurt. I don’t think he understands fully yet. He was incredibly upset when someone got physical with him though. And that really set me off because he doesn’t know that kind of behavior otherwise.
I just don’t understand why parents aren’t at least watching their kids. Why where there is clearly an incident occurring and another parent is having to step in to redirect their kid, no one approaches me. They have not a clue as to what is going on! Sure, some may say “it is something he is going to have to deal with later in life.” Really? Why? Because parents are choosing not to parent? I sure as heck wouldn’t allow Lucas to treat another kid that way. Sure, he will have to deal with kids being harsh, even mean, and there will be times where he is those things as well. But I will be there to help guide him, build his confidence and teach him how to treat people. Especially those younger.
At two, no child deserves to be bullied in any way. As his parent, it is my job to protect him as much as possible. I just had no idea that it would be from bullies at such as young age. It makes me sad. And it makes me sick that these kids are starving for their parents attention and haven’t been taught how to treat people smaller than them.
Let me also be clear in saying that there are definite instances where another toddler or even older child doesn’t share, snatches a toy, is mean etc. and their parent steps in with me and tends to the situation. Those instances, while not okay, are normal and teachable moments. I am talking about people NOT parenting their kids, not teaching them right from wrong.
I have found that the older kids are there later in the day, so on days we go, we head up very early now and leave mid morning. Lucas still gets time to play with his friends, dig in the dirt and gets some sunshine and fresh air. And we don’t have to worry about older kids bullying younger ones, and the kids at that time have very attentive parents.
It is just sad that bullying is so extreme, but it is easy to see how it starts. People need to stop popping out babies because they can. Parenting is a joy but it is also serious business – act like it! You have an obligation to your children.
What is your experience with your kids at the park?
UPDATE: I wrote this post a year ago and never published it. I just wrote it to sort out my feelings. Now we have had several instances with park kids! Different parks too! One older kid dressed as bat man PUNCHED Lucas right in front of me, and Lucas was not provoking in any way. It was insane. Where were his parents? They eventually came over as I held my hysterical 4 year old and fumed with my friend. This kid terrorized so many other kids at the park that day, we met a few of them in the ice cream shop.
What I noticed is that parents aren’t watching their children. And it seems to be older kids picking on younger ones. Kids are all over while parents text, talk or sit in their cars. Sadly, at paid events, like Gymboree we have not had one negative experience. Now, i am not saying this happens all the time, not at all, but I simply find it unacceptable that parents are no where to be found when it does occur and that it’s a much older kid every time!