this age

Yesterday we went to the bigger park that’s right next to the swimming pool that Deeder and I frequented last summer. The play equipment there is for kids ages 5 to 12 but I thought we’d be fine since Deeder’s such a good climber and really he is fairly careful. It’s off the road and down a walkway, no danger at all of him running into the street which is a big plus since he has no fear of moving cars. As you’ve seen in my pictures and videos, our house is right on the busy street–redirecting Deeder away from the road is tiring and frustrating, I have no idea what his fascination is with it! Anyways…
We left right after nap and the walk took about twenty minutes, while I pushed the stroller Deeder ate his granola bar and drank his sippy. He was really excited to see the park and could hardly sit still long enough for me to find a place to park the stroller and undo his seat strap.

Seems all the other parents had the same idea that I had–take advantage of the sunshine by taking the kids to the park. It was PACKED OUT. I did bring my camera but didn’t have the chance to use it.
Deeder headed right for the biggest climbing structure and mounted the rock climbing wall. He quickly clambered to the top, walked the bridge to the slide then turned himself around to go feet first down the slide on his belly. Since the slide here is far steeper than the one at our neighborhood park he went down in double time, in surprise and delight he uttered a loud squeal of delight. Upon reaching the bottom and regaining his balance he smiled proudly and said, “Yeeeah!”.
Next he went around to the climbing ledges at the other side of the equipment. They look like a large four step spiral staircase, intended for children much bigger than my Deeder. Since his legs weren’t long enough to go from one step up to the next he had to rely on getting a good grip with his hands through the grid on the next stair and lift his body weight with his arms. I knew he could do it so I didn’t assist beyond standing near with a hand out to steady him if he should loose his grip. Despite the great efforts he had putting into this feat he wore a big grin on his face, all the while giggling to himself as if this was so hard that it tickled.
A bigger girl was coming down just as he had both feet on the second stair and was grabbing hold of the next. The steps were wide and she had enough room to walk around him. Most kids are super considerate of Deeder and I’ve never had to worry. Know what she did??
She kicked him in the mouth. Just like that. Foot back, swing forward and smack.
Right in the teeth.

I was shocked. Poor Deeder was too.
He let out gaspy sound, a little cough then turned red in the face as if he were about ready to cry. I could see the tears coming and how bravely he was trying to hold them back. He pulled his lips tight closed like he does when I’m trying to brush his teeth and he doesn’t want to let the toothbrush in.
I reached my arms out to him then and he came to me. I set him on the ground and bent down to examine the damage. He wouldn’t look at me; instead he hugged my legs tight and whimpered softly into the fabric of my jeans.
The girl’s mom came around to where we were and to her daughter said, “Why do you have to be so rude? You go tell that little boy you’re sorry. Right now. Then we’re leaving.”
I thought that was pretty good, but the tone she said it in wasn’t right. Too casual, as if this happened every day and deep down Mom was OK with it. The girl gave Deeder a little hug (surprising gentle considering the way she had just deliberately hurt him) and said her apology with a sweet smile. “Sorry, little boy.” She patted his head then turned and told her mom that she wasn’t leaving then headed off for the nearby swingset. The mom yelled after her that they were so leaving, right NOW.

To me, the mom said how crazy kids are at this age, they do the wildest things. She laughed as if it were a joke between us–an understanding–something that all moms have and can’t do anything about other than add a spoonful of humor for self-sanity and throw an empty dose of threat their child’s way for the appearance of control. I think I was supposed to laugh too showing that my heart had that secret too. Like Deeder, I was a little stunned to do anything meaningful. There’s a child in me, one that if it hadn’t been so shy would have come out and kicked the girl back, when the mom wasn’t looking of course! Maybe not in the mouth, but something enough to hurt. It would have been evil, and no doubt accomplished nothing at all but it would have felt good.

Deeder sniffled for a minute or two, well more like a second or two, and then let me look at his mouth. His lips were puffy and red but his gums weren’t bleeding as my mommy imagination had pictured them to be. I could tell that he wanted to resume his climbing of the metal grate ledges. For the sake of fairness I set him back up on the stair that he’d been on before, the second to the top, and then let him go for it. He put one hand up and raised his leg to start the climb then looking over his shoulder saw the girl coming from the swing set. She had a sly look in her eye and what a read to be a devious smile coming across her face. I stepped a little closer to Deeder, on guard to stop her if she should try to pull another blow. I didn’t have a plan on what I’d do to her, she was much to big for me to remove physically (about 4 years old and overweight) but I knew I’d think of something if she tried anything evil.
Little Deeder got up those stairs so fast! I’m pretty sure flying is his superpower, brought to life with just a tiny bit of adrenaline. As soon as he was to the top he made a dash for the slide and slid down then ran across the field where kids play Frisbee all the way to the sandpit on the other side of the park. There he climbed into the big metal car in the middle of the sand area and hid in the back. Wow!
My attempts to coax him back to the play equipment were completely useless, even long after the girl and her mom had gone home. There he sat, alone in the car. Maybe I’m just suffering from pregnant lady hormone issues, but this all seemed so unfair.

How could one kid misbehaving have to ruin our fun outing to the park? I thought about how her mom said its crazy how kids are at this age then didn’t dish out the consequences that she’d said the girl would get for hurting Deeder. Should speeding tickets not be given out to teen drivers because statistically they speed more than people do who are in their 40’s? It is just a stage, right? Why punish a kid if he’s just doing something that every other kid his age does–why fight nature? Why stop with excusing bad behavior as “stage” in the preschool years when we could carry it on forever?

Since I had nothing else to do way out there by the big metal car I thought about what I would do if Deeder were the bully who kicked someone in the mouth. Would I pick him up and leave the park, even if he had followed through with the hug and apologized whomever he had just harmed as the girl did? Yes. I’d like to think that I would, if that’s what I’d told him that I would do.
Otherwise I’d be on my way to teaching him that what I say doesn’t really matter and that he is the one who is really in control, not me. As we left the park that day I had a renewed belief that it doesn’t matter how old the child is. There have to be acted upon consequences, for both good and bad behavior.

It’s part of love, part of treasuring your child and teaching him or her that their actions and choices in life matter. In this age, and every age.

7 Responses to “this age”

  1. Kathie says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about Deeder’s troubles at the playground. In the last few posts, you’ve drawn an important distinction between two different “bad” behaviours. Deeder’s tantrums ARE a part of “growing up”- and don’t hurt anyone else (other than you having to listen to him). Kicking another kid is COMPLETELY different. I really hope you don’t see this little girl again at the playground, or anywhere else!

  2. Marylin says:

    oh I don’t think I could have kept my mouth shut if someone did that to Zack… poor little Deeder, I hope he’s ok now!

    Marylin’s last blog post..Borked

  3. Lauren says:

    my goodness! I hope lil deeder is doing better now! I’d be scared of the little girl, too!

  4. Sarah says:

    Bad, bad, little brat! I so would not have reacted like you did.
    Poor Diederick!

    Sarah’s last blog post..Spring Time!

  5. Poor Deeder! I truly think the hardest part of being a parent is dealing with other parents that have different values than I do. If that had been my little girl, there would have been hell to pay for deliberately being mean. Then again, that’s part of the difference. My kid would think real hard before she pulled something like that since she knows it’s not right.

    Burgh Baby’s Mom’s last blog post..Slapping Some Cuteness on These Walls

  6. Gramma Momma says:

    It’s the hardest thing, when someone deliberately hurts your child. That mom is to blame. As you mentioned, she acted as if it happens frequently. It is so too bad that she is basically bringing up a bully.

    I’m thankful that Diederick doesn’t seem to have suffered too much physical damage, although it would be a good idea to have the dentist x-ray his mouth. It’s possible that there is damage to his jaw or teeth. :(

    Gramma Momma’s last blog post..Ten Favorite Comedies

  7. Wendy says:

    Poor Deeder! Nothing makes me more angry and frustrated then when another child deliberately hurts Lani or Wesley. I know that bumps and falls can happen at a park full of kids, but things like that irk me:( Atleast the mother noticed! I have gone to many parks or Chuck E Cheese type places where I am constantly discipling other peoples kids because the parents are NO WHERE TO BE FOUND! I hope that he is doing much better tonight with no permanent boo boos! *HUGS*

    Wendy’s last blog post..Please Pray…UPDATED!!

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge