Over at Seed Dispersal Mechanisms (no, it's not an agricultural blog, it's an agricultural metaphor), Furrow asks whether it's better to be the parent of the playground aggressor or the playground victim?
I don't know. Buddy has a nice line in car jacking during his weekly playgroup. He was in the habit of crawling up to the toddle cars and hanging onto the door of an occupied vehicle. He only wanted to play, but it was often distressing to the kiddie driver, sometimes to the point of tears (wusses) .
He's either grown out of it, or I've largely managed to break him of his early criminal bent. At any rate, the unwritten code of conduct at playgroup is pretty fierce. You better make your kid share, or else.
But that's fairly mild compared to what I saw recently at the playground.
A boy, maybe four, pushed a small girl (I'd guess 2 and a half) down the stair side of the slide. The attending dad couldn't see what happened, but he asked and I answered, truthfully, that the boy had pushed her down. (Is that tattling?) Mum-of-boy was mortified. She made him apologise and he was dragged off. I thought for good. But apparently it was just a chat and maybe some time out because he re-emerged and made a bee-line for Buddy.
I was pretty wary and stuck close. Extra close. His mother stuck close, too. She seemed pleased by his interest in Buddy and explained to me that he had a 4 month old brother at home. He tried to stop Buddy from playing with the heavy playground gate. And while that could have been interpreted as concern - Buddy does like to bang the gate open and shut in a potentially finger-smashing way - I didn't think it was. When his mother told him to stop, he drew his foot back and kicked Buddy in the leg. Hard.
Now Buddy's a tough old nut, and he didn't cry. But he was certainly perplexed. I knew his leg hurt, but I could tell his feelings were hurt, too. He couldn't understand why that boy had done that. Truth be told, neither could I.
Before I could remonstrate, the mother ran off. I mean she ran. She told her little delinquent that they were going home right then - but she actually left him behind. He followed, though, screaming and tantrum-ing.
I wanted to yell after her "Hey, where's the apology to my kid?" or "Hey, you better keep a close eye on that boy with your four-month-old, your kid has problems." But I didn't. She was too far away.
So, maybe - unless you're in deep denial - it's better to be the mom of the playground victim.
Is that bad kid still here?