Bionic Mamas

you're not losing a vagina, you're gaining a son

In Which I Regret Not Being That Mom


Some mundane stuff, because I really have to go to bed:

We took the Bean to the playground this morning, early enough that it was fairly empty; it’s quite bustling on weekday afternoons, and it’s nice to have a bit more of the run of the place. It’s a good-sized one, with play structures for different age groups, swings, handball courts, and any number of donated tricycles, plastic trucks, walkers, play kitchens, and so on. These are the perks of living in a town where no one has the space to store large gifts from the relatives.

After some slide/stairs circuits and a bit of truck work, the Bean settled near a Dora dollhouse and busied himself manipulating some flap or other. Nearby, a slightly (?) older toddler found a sort of plastic ATV to ride, the sort you sit on and push along with your feet.

It transpired that his heart’s desire was to push himself directly at, up to, and nearly over the Bean. As we watched from our trying-not-to-hover distance, he zoomed (relatively speaking) up to the Bean several times in rapid succession. The Bean, startled, would move farther away, and he would herd him some more. This went on for several minutes. When the Bean moved to avoid him, he would swing back again, such that eventually, the Bean was pinned into the corner created by the two sides of the dollhouse and could not leave. The other child backed up a little, adjusted his angle, and once again zoomed up to the Bean, who had started to look pretty panicked.

At this point, Sugar and I swooped in to reassure him, perhaps slightly prematurely. Our arrival did, however, have the useful effect of shaming the child’s father into adjusting his course out of the dollhouse and away from the Bean.

I don’t know, y’all. I think it’s good to let kids have space on the playground to figure things out for themselves, but I’m pretty pissed at the father in this case. He was standing right beside all this, and what with the emptiness of the playground, it’s not as if he was unable to see. I don’t think his kid was necessarily being intentionally aggressive or hostile or anything like that, but the fact is that he was scaring a younger child, and I do think it would have been nice for the father to care about that, though it’s too rare on that playground to find a father who seems to think any kind of intervention is his job, frankly.

In retrospect, I feel a little bad that I didn’t rescue the Bean sooner. He was not happy and clearly lacked the physical and verbal wherewithal to fix the situation. More than unhappy, he looked scared, and I don’t like seeing him scared and trapped. I guess when it comes right down to it, I’m more willing to see him fall down than feel menaced, even if swooping in makes me That Mom.

The Bean tends not to engage in a pushy way with other kids, and of course, kids his age are mostly pushy, so this means a certain amount of hanging back and a certain amount of being run roughshod over. I am not too terribly worried about this, except that I wonder sometimes if I am forcing him into shyness by not putting him in daycare or another setting where he’d be forced to deal with more kids more regularly. On the other hand, if this shyness is just his nature at this age (whether or not that changes), then perhaps I should stand more ready to defend him. He is, at least in my biased view, such a sweet creature, and I hate the thought of his going without protection that his particular self might need more than some others do.

Mostly, though, I feel peeved that the father left me in that position. How hard would it really have been to give a damn?

9 thoughts on “In Which I Regret Not Being That Mom

  1. He is indeed such a dear and tender bean. That dad was an a-hole and I’m afraid his kid is learning to take after him.

  2. Bug was SUPER shy at that age. He was terrorized by this pint-size little sweet-blonde-curls girl in his playgroup for almost a year despite outweighing her by ten pounds (of her 20!). Now he never stops talking and loves her and thinks everyone’s his friend. I had the exact same worries and though I offer no assurance that Bean will turn out the same or anything, it *can* happen.

    I dislike aggressive children like that, possibly because my child ISN’T, and I dislike their parents even more. In fact, I dislike almost everyone. Poor Bean! Poor other child, growing up without MANNERS!

  3. Ugh. Poor Bean!

    I worry that I’m going to end up on the other side of this. My Monkey is currently (at 15 months) showing great delight in biting us – generally when he’s tired. He thinks its hilarious and nothing we’ve tried so far has helped.

    Hubs and I tend to be able to dodge, and so far he hasn’t bitten another child, but I’m starting to dread becoming THAT mother! Not that I would stand idly by like the dad at the playground, but what if I wasn’t fast enough to prevent it?

  4. We’re on the other side of this, so I hover like a maniac. Tatoe lacks good impulse control like most/all kids his age, but he’s also stronger than he realizes. I once had to pull him off a 2 year old at the park because Tatoe decided suddenly that it’d be a great idea to tackle the other kid and steal his shoes. I was red-faced and apologetic to the other parents and we left the park immediately. That father should have been proactive or at the very least, reactive. Instead he’s just an a-hole.

  5. This issue has come up big-time for us lately as Izzy has become more and more physical with us as well as kids at the playground. She is at an immersion spanish school and her best friend is a little girl who’s english is as limited as Izzy’s spanish. We had notice a sizable up-tick Izzy’s use of her body (light shoves, physically turning my head or pulling my hand) when she used to always use her words, albeit commands. The likely cause is that she is finding that using her body is a more successful approach to communicate with her friend and is trying it out on others. Her actions aren’t quite aggressive, but they are “demanding”. Since she is pretty tall, verbal and very outgoing, she can be pretty intimidating/intense and I have a hard time knowing when to step in or let the (generally older) kid engage her back in an equally physical way, roll their eyes or ignore her (the latter two happen quite often). At this point, we are just letting it play-out on its own unless the other kid looks overwhelmed, but its a hard line to draw.

  6. It is so hard to know when to intervene. In our house, we have one twin who tends to be a lot more dominant than the other. The less dominant twin (our Lion) just lets his brother grab and yank toys from his hand at will. And while we don’t want to fight for him if he isn’t upset, it can be hard to allow his brother to walk all over him and not want to swoop in and insist on more parity. I can see this issue only gaining complexity as the boys get older, go to daycare, preschool, kindergarten, etc.

  7. You don’t like to see your child scared and trapped, huh? Interesting.

    Oh boy, this is one of those things I’ve been wondering about. I tend to swoop, which I guess makes me That Mom, if I understand who that mom is. But it seems like if you’re not going to swoop, you at least need to check in with the other parent. Like, Hey, is this okay? Want me to pull my child off your child? I don’t know. But I do know that dad was a jerk.

  8. I meant to respond to this earlier as a simple rant about parents who don’t discipline their kids, but then yesterday I was that mom.

    Bunny was bullied at the park yesterday. In typical Bunny fashion, he followed an older kid (preschooler) climbing on the playground. This kid didn’t like that or didn’t like Bunny or something. At the top of the slide, he grabbed Danny’s wrist and wouldn’t let go. I had to climb up there and get the kid to let go. I thought it was over. This child followed Bunny and when Bunny fell (as he often does when running enthusiastically), the kid walked over and stepped on Bunny’s hand.

    I did stop him and chastise him. I did find the father who was watching his two older children. Dad seemed embarrassed. My question is, how does a baby become a bully like that. Older siblings? Abusive parents?

    This wasn’t normal grab-your-toy stuff. This was intentionally malicious.

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