PK has really taken to going to the park recently. The park probably comes as a close second to Indigo as far as PK's favorite places in the whole world. (Ah, the life of a toddler!) There are a few parks near our house to choose from, but she really likes this particular park for its slides and funky teeter-totter. Last week, a little kiddie playhouse was even added to the park. As an aside, I wonder who adds these things in. This playhouse is basically the type that you can buy at Toys R Us, so it's definitely not "park-grade" (if such a term exists).
I took PK to the park recently, and the first thing she went for was the playhouse. There was this little blond boy there with his nanny. The boy was maybe a year to a year-and-a-half older than PK. He was playing nearby at the sandboxes. As soon as he spotted PK running towards the playhouse, he rushed inside and closed the door, effectively blocking PK from going inside. Since he wouldn't budge, I got creative and got PK into the house by lifting her through one of the windows, which was nice and large.
The blond kid didn't like that. He had quite the scowl on his face. His nanny sensed that he was going to do something mean, so she started calling to him. He didn't budge. And then the abuse began. He started flinging sand at PK. He started trying to block her from doing things. He started pushing her. I didn't care that the nanny was around, and told him to stop being mean. I said it several times. The nanny also tried to keep him away from PK, telling him that she was just a little baby and that he should be gentle. He would have none of it. This kid was MEAN! Unfortunately, the nanny wasn't making enough of an effort with him, probably out of fear that she would lose her job if the little brat boy perceived her to be too rough with him. I guess she was between a rock and a hard place. I'd finally had it with him, so I pulled PK out of the house and took her to the slides. Anything to get away from that little prick. Fortunately PK didn't mind too much. Once the little brat had gone away, we went back to the toyhouse, and PK had a blast. Fortunately, even when this stupid kid was being mean to her, PK was completely oblivious to whole situation and never got upset about it, because I never let it get to the point where the other kid would hurt her.
Talking to my mom on the phone later that day, I told her about the little bratty blond kid. It turns out that this wasn't PK's first run-in with. She'd apparently had a similar experience with this boy a few weeks earlier when she was out at the park with my mom.
I decided to write about this experience today because on my way to work today, I heard a story about an 8-year-old girl whose mother had to pull her out of school because of a bully. Apparently she'd complained about the bully to school staff multiple times, but nothing was done about it. I thought that I wouldn't need to worry about PK being bullied until she was of school-age, but obviously I'm wrong. Kids start to bully at a really young age, and that is really worrisome.
First, for the kids being bullied, because it wrecks their self-esteem, and they feel trapped - some to the point of wanting to kill themselves. All because of some little brat who obviously has emotional problems and decides to take it out on an innocent little person. Secondly, the kid doing the bullying obviously needs help. Maybe the kid is mentally-unstable. Maybe he has problems at home and uses the bullying as an outlet. Or maybe his parents need to spend a little more time parenting.
I guess this little experience has been a wake-up call. I don't think that the bullying issue will go away overnight, and if anything, this is only the tip of the iceberg. As a parent, I need to be aware of PK's surroundings and make sure that while I should do as much as I can to protect her, I need to teach her to defend herself, and most importantly, to not be ashamed to get help if she feels threatened. So watch out, little blond kid, because it is ON!