We had a situation at our house on Saturday night. A bully situation. You can’t turn on the news or go online anymore without hearing about young people who are bullied to the point of desperation, and yet, the message seems to not be getting through that this kind of behavior is not okay. Ever. Kids are still being hurt, every day, and as a parent my instinct is to keep my own children close to me. My kids are young and they aren’t yet allowed to venture out on their own. Not even with groups of other kids. Not even to the park around the corner. Not even if everybody else is doing it. Mateo will be 9 in a few weeks though, and he’s a responsible kid. I know that I can trust him if he’s with a group of other age-appropriate, responsible kids. We knew that the time was coming, and on Saturday night it did. We had friends over for a fire and the other family has two children, one of whom is a boy Mateo’s age and the other is his 12 year old sister. She had a friend along that night. They wanted to go to the park, which is less than 5 minutes up the street, so we let Mateo go. How much trouble could 2 nine year olds and 2 twelve year olds get into?
As it turns out they didn’t get into any trouble, because they are good kids. It was trouble found them. Mateo will explain.
Phew. The mom version goes like this:
While the kids were at the park, the oldest texted saying they wanted to come home because someone was bothering them. Glenn and the other Dad took off for the park to get the kids home, but in the meantime, the kids had arrived home without the Dads knowing. As they came into the backyard where we were sitting around the fire, it was obvious they were upset. They sort of explained what had happened and that the kid was out front in the street with the rest of the neighbourhood kids.
I should clarify when I call the boy who bullied them a “kid” that I am talking about a 14 year old boy who we learned plays hockey and isn’t on the small side. We are not talking about an actual kid.
Anyway. What do two mama bears do when their kids come home crying from the park, and the bully is outside the front door? The moms stampede out the door to confront the bully, that’s what. It was an exceptionally frustrating exchange indeed. Because you see, the poor bully was the victim of our kids. He didn’t really hit the girls in the head that hard – he was just poking them. He wasn’t being that mean. He was trying to be friendly. He didn’t know why oh why our kids got scared and upset and mad at him. REALLY. That is really what he had to say for himself. I can only imagine the murder he gets away with at home, using excuses like that.
It did not go over well.
Bullies don’t care what adults have to say anymore. There is no longer anything resembling respect for authority. Gone are the days when any old adult could tell you to smarten up and you’d listen. In fact, the boy did at one point tell me that I can’t tell him what to do. To which I replied without hesitation that I sure can and I will tell him exactly what to do, when it comes to my kid or anybody else’s that he better not be harassing or laying his hands on. Still that did not get through to him. I asked him how he’d feel if I followed him home that night and talked to his mother about what he’d been up to. He really actually thought that we couldn’t do that or that we wouldn’t. Oh man. I can and I will. It’s almost like the belligerent, arrogant, bullies believe that they are above consequences anymore.
It wasn’t just us moms out there. Another adult friend, Dave, had followed us out from the fire to keep an eye on the situation. He stepped in when the exchange between myself and the bully got out of hand. The Dads showed up and Glenn joined Dave in letting the bully know that it really was time to go home. The neighbours were starting to come out and see what was going on, because this kid just would not stop or leave the situation. And we certainly weren’t going to allow him to stay, because you know, we have to live here with our kids and be telling them the truth when we say it’s safe to play outside. This kid had to leave. But he wouldn’t. Glenn and Dave were making some progress when the other Dad had gone into the house to talk to the kids, when truly out of nowhere he came running out of the house hollering, “DID YOU HIT MY DAUGHTER?”
Everybody stopped. We all backed off while the Dad and the bully had their conversation. Wouldn’t you know it but that the kid was wearing team gear for the hockey team he plays for. I also happened to snap a picture of the kid, as I told him when he asked why I was doing that, “just in case.” We can track this kid down, and I will if I ever see him at this again. The other Dad threatened to call his coach and tell him what he’d been doing that night and the kid seriously told him that the coach wouldn’t believe it and would take the kid’s side. Maybe he was speaking from the truth of past experience on that (hope not) or maybe he really was that delusional. I’m not sure what was said or how the conversation ended, but the kid took off and the street cleared of all the neighbour kids as well.
A funny little thing happened when the kid was stuck in a conversation about why he hit someone’s daughter. The kid’s friend, who had been sitting off to the side looking terrified the entire time, came up to me and told me what had happened.
“I don’t know why he went up to those kids. I don’t know why he was bothering him and knocking the girls on the head. I just wish he’d shut up right now. He’s going to get himself beat up.” Ah wisdom. There are kids who have it. But what I wish I’d have asked this kid was why on earth he didn’t say or do anything to stop it. Maybe he’s on the receiving end of it too. Maybe he doesn’t want to look weak. I’m sure it’s confusing to be a 14 year old boy. Maybe he doesn’t know what it means to be strong. One day he’s going to have to choose better company if he doesn’t want people to assume he’s a part of things like this by the absence of action against it. I wanted to say all of those things but I didn’t because I was upset and my kids were upset and it was just time to go in the house. So we went in, we talked the kids down and people went home shortly after that.
And Mateo was afraid to go to bed that night because he thought the bully would come back.
I can see how it would be scary when you’re 9 and it takes 5 very upset, emotionally charged adults to handle 1 very belligerent, abusive teenager. All I wanted was for my kid to get his first taste of freedom by going to the park with his friends by himself. He’s such a good kid, truly, that he’s earned it. He will go again. He and the other kids did everything right. They knew when it was time to leave, they walked away, and they called for help. I know that if they get into a tough situation again, they will make the right choice again. And Mateo knows that if he ever needs someone to stand up for him, that he’s got two parents and a bunch of other adults who care about him who’ll all stand the bullies down, no matter how many of us it takes.
My son will go back to the park. I told him tonight that next time he goes, he’s taking my “little” cousin David with him. David is an almost 14 year old boy who won’t let anybody pick on his little cousin. He’s the kind of kid that other 14 year old boys should be like in that he’ll stand up for the little guys. Mateo will find his brave again. The bullies of this world are so not going to take that from him. Or I *will* follow them home and tell their mothers on them.
copyright (c) 2014 Jenna Pelias // all rights reserved