Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Dealing with Bullies

One of these days I'm really going to take my camera to the pool so you can all see my brilliant children swim. Judah in particular is a treat to watch. He wears one of those doughnut shaped "floaties" (as Sofi calls them) around his tubby little middle and charges (no other word for it) all around the wading pool (which comes up to his armpits at the deepest place). He chases his ball around and visits the other moms sitting on the side of the pool watching their children.

Sofi likes to chase after the diving rings we bought at the Dollar Store last year. She has a hard time getting all the way to the bottom, so sometimes she kicks it up a little with her foot before she dives under to get it.

Today at the pool we had a run-in with a bully.

As a preface to this tale, let me say that the H city pool is not really what I would call "high end" (which is the only reason we can afford it!) and has, on occasion, had to call in the cops to break up a fight or two. It's a mixed bag, for sure, but we like it-- it's decently clean and lots of other families we know (and some we're getting to know) go there too, so there's lots of company.

However, knowing the mix of people there, I should have known that this would happen eventually. Today as we were innocently playing with our squishy balls and diving rings in the wading pool, a little boy about a foot shorter than Sofi (but about twice as big around) starting getting a little pushy. He grabbed Judah's ball once. Sofi asked for it back and gave it back to Judah. Then he tried to grab it back. This time Judah hung onto it with both hands! So the little boy grabbed Judah and started swishing him around through the water by his suit-- his face ducking every couple seconds. I intervened and kindly explained to the boy not to grab Judah because he was too little and might fall over. Over the course of the next ten minutes, he repeatedly grabbed toys and on two occasions waded into Sofi with both fists when she tried to keep the toy away from him.

The reason I'm posting about this is not to scare everyone about public pools, but to point out how totally unprepared I was for this episode. We'd never talked with Sofi about bullies or how to deal with them. I'd never been faced with a situation in which I needed to stand up for my child in the face of a bully. I didn't have a clue. The best assistance I could offer her in that situation was "Well, go ahead and give it to him and we'll go over to the big pool if he doesn't leave you alone." When we got home, we had a talk with Daddy about how to deal with bullies and I think that she's now more prepared to deal with a situation like that in the future.

I'm sharing this as a reality check. Today we are worried about nap schedules and delayed crawling, but before you know it, we'll have to start teaching them how to stand up for themselves in the face of a bully. It happens fast, people.

Lightening fast.


Laurie B. said...


Polly said...

Well, so what was the paternal advice?