Wednesday, March 31, 2010

daddy the great protector

Charlie took the children to the park today.


Apparently, one of the local play groups was there and children were swarming everywhere. While my husband pushed Henry on one of the swings, the older children took off to play on a nearby structure with some of the other kids that had gathered. At one point, Charlie looked over and noticed that William was playing with what appeared to be two older boys. From my husband's description, he was immediately struck with an odd feeling, so he removed Henry from the swing and walked over to see what was happening.

As he approached, he spotted William raising both of his arms to hit one of the boys, who dodged his blows. Charlie called out, "Whoa! William what are you doing?!" and our son looked over at his father and said in a very flustered voice, "These boys aren't being nice to me! That boy right there hit me in the NECK!"

Charlie summoned William to come talk with him and inspected a scratch and several red marks on our son's neck. But after a few minutes, whatever issue had precipitated, dissipated and the kids were all running around together and playing as if nothing had ever happened. Still, Charlie hung nearby keeping his eye on the scene because he suspected the older boys were targeting our little one who talks ad nauseum about dinosaurs and his imaginary friend, Tresiam and how one day they are going to live in Antarctica and feed the penguins.

(Side note: If it had been ME, I would have packed everyone up and moved to a different area in the park. But my husband believes children should learn to play together and work through issues. He's a crazy man.)

After a short while, my husband over heard one of the boys talking cruelly to William. When Charlie looked over he caught sight of the boy rolling his eyes and telling our son to bug off. When Charlie called out that it was time to go, William, oblivious that this boy was seriously trying to get rid of him called back, "Daddy! I need five more minutes to play with my best friends!"

William is such a kind little boy. He has such a sweet innocence about him and he has not yet been tainted by the notion that people don't want to play with him or would ever act mean intentionally.

Charlie walked up to our son and as he did, he heard the boy say, "We're not your BEST friends. We're not even your friends. How about you get zero more minutes, you little zero?"

I'm not really sure how I would have handled that situation. When I first heard the story, I imagined myself flying across the playground and lifting the little turd up over my head and spinning him around a few times before hurling him in to the road and yelling, "HOW DARE YOU TALK TO MY BABY THAT WAY!"


(So it's probably a good thing I wasn't there.)

According to my husband, he stepped in and very firmly said, "William, it is time to go NOW. Then looking over at the older boy he added, "I don't want you to play with this boy because he is acting RUDE and IMPOLITE. We only play with people who know how to act NICELY and like GENTLEMEN."

William was stunned to hear his father reprimand a strange child. He looked to his dad and said, "Well, if this boy is acting naughty then we need to teach him how to act nicely!" And as my husband stared down the older boy he said, "No, it's not our job to teach him how to behave nicely. It's his parents job and hopefully they'll do it before he ends up in JAIL."

Charlie then recounted to me how he watched the boy sheepishly run over to his mother and bury his head in her skirt. When my family exited the park a short time later, my husband said that he tripped the boy and laughed out loud when he fell down and scraped his chin.

When he saw my shocked expression, he added, "Oh, I'm just kidding! I'm not that much of a monster. I don't think...."


  1. I laughed at Charlie's little flourish at the end of the story, so if finding that amusing makes Charlie a monster... I am a monster too :D :D
    (William's blitheness could actually be a blessing if it lasts. I didn't realise until I was out of primary school that I'd been bullied, because I was so unaware of it)

  2. Charlie, your wonderful!! The Coleman in me would want to take that 5 year old down!

    William is such a sweet heart.

    Psst. Jen. You want me to send in reinforcements?? James is 21 now... he'll take of that little &*^%!

    Marg. :-)

  3. Children can be sooo mean - and you know they either get it from their parents behavior or their lack of discipline. I'm sorry William had to go through that.

  4. Go Charlie! I have to say, I love William's innocence.

    The other day some tween girls were extremely rude in front of my children, so I walked down to the house where they'd parked their bikes after flipping me off and asked their father to discuss manners with his daughters. It wouldn't have been my business, except that my daughters were RIGHT THERE. If I teach them that they have to be good role models to younger children now that they're three, how can I turn a blind eye to kids' poor behaviour when they're 10 years their senior?

  5. Okay, I can understand that Charlie was feeling very protective. But, he did not model "nice" and "gentlemanly" himself. Telling a little boy that he might end up in jail? Seriously? Charlie should have removed William from the scene (immediately!) and then had a private conversation with him about the situation.

  6. Sarah, I think Charlie handled it well. He did remove William from the situation, he did talk to him, but he made it clear in front of the 7-yo bully that his behavior was NOT acceptable.

    To me, that's a good thing. Far too often, people tuck tail and run away when they are confronted with a problem when they should instead stand up and say THIS IS NOT OK.

    Now would my husband have brought up a possible incarceration had the boy's mother been standing there?

    Who knows. Maybe.

    If you grow in to an adult that believes it's acceptable to choke people smaller than you, something tells me you might spend some time behind bars.

  7. Oh I know what you mean-- My Henry is such a little tender heart. Sometimes the children play the 'Your not my best friend' at school and it hurts his feelings... inside I am being torn up-- but I have to keep calm -- ARG! it is so hard being a parent! Our hearts are running around on the outside of our bodies!

  8. Yeah, the whole physical neck grabbing thing is a bit much -nice older kids usually learn to ignore smaller kids who pester them for attention. William was probably being a tiny bit annoying but well taught kids learn to ignore the little guys. I couldn't help but think "get used to it with school starting for the kids soon!" If William does enjoy fantasy talk (as most kids do -including mine) he'll need to have some good skills in place when playing with other kids not so tolerant. We refer to mean kids as "FHA's" -Future Hoods of America.

  9. Cindy, I'm sure that William was annoying the boys and I'm particularly cognizant of that. Or rather, I'm extremely sensitive to that. As in, I wouldn't want to put him in a situation where he might get hurt physically or emotionally.

    Whenever we see older kids at a park, I'm very wary to let our children go play just because I KNOW how things can be. If the kids insist on playing, I'll watch them like a HAWK and just make sure that nothing bad goes down. When the older kids see me right there, they always act a bit more mellow than they would if I was sitting on a bench.

    What with going to school (ugh) I know our children are very soon going to learn that the world isn't all rainbows and unicorns, and it breaks my heart just thinking of it.

  10. I have to agree with your initial poster that William's innocence and being unaware could be a good thing. I was VERY aware that I was being bullied in school and it did a lot of damage to my self-confidence and took years of recovery, into adulthood, before I gained some of it back. Sometimes I wish that ignorance had been my bliss.

  11. Well done to Charlie for teaching William to speak up for himself. It is going to be hard at school to deal with these situations and to be able to say something without it turning into a yelling match where it is hard for the teacher to see where it started and both parties get punished. So good for Charlie for showing William that stating your position firmly but calmly and politely is a good way of dealing with a situation.

  12. Well done Charlie! I believe some kids need to be called out on their rudeness, especially when your children are at stake. If you don't stand up for them... how will they ever learn to stand up for themselves?!! I think Charlie handled it very well, I would have had a difficult time being as nice as he was. We once had a younger child bullying our 3 year old at a park. the younger child would get loud and scream in a mean way whenever our son would try to pass him or walk through the park equipment. It terrified Hayden. So I went up to the kid and told him to move along. He was trying to block all of the park equipment and bullying everyone that came near him. His mother finally took a clue and removed him from the situation. Some parents need to realize that their children's behaviors are not acceptable with those of us who are compassionate, understanding, and what our children to be the BEST that they can be!

  13. That's a very good point. We as a society should not turn a blind eye to such nasty behavior. However, I think that means Charlie should calmly/maturely tell the kids that their behavior was extremely inappropriate and that he feared for his son's safety and feelings. I still do not think that he should talk about them going to jail. After all, aren't we saying that it is not just the parents' job to enforce nice behavior, it is society as a whole?

  14. Good job Charlie! Way to reprimand another child without engaging the other child. That can piss other parents off. The way he did it, he was reprimanding the kid but in a subtle way. Very smart. Not sure how smart I will be when the same thing comes up!

  15. Charlie handled it well. Better than most, I would say.

    How sad is it that I'm glad we spend minimal time at the park now that my crew is a bit older. If I go it's for one-on-one time with Ian, so he more into me pushing him on the swing and digging in the sand with him than playing with the other kids.

    We'll go a couple of times in the summer, but it's mostly time out front (cul-de-sac) or at the beach.

  16. Sarah, I think that some of the most profound lessons our children will learn, will come from people OUTSIDE the home. While I know we are teaching our children, they are extremely impressionable and pick up a great deal from those around us.

    I'd almost wager that at 5-yo our children are already more concerned with what other people think and say then what we, their parents, think and say. Seriously, sometimes I wonder if they are listening to me AT ALL.

    So to the 7-yo bully that Charlie confronted, did he handle it perfectly well? Maybe not. Maybe if he had more time to process the BEST response, he would have come up with something slightly different. But I do think that in the split second my husband had to respond, telling this child that his behavior was completely inappropriate and if he doesn't get his act straight could get him in BIG trouble down the road, made quite an impact.

    Thanks for your comment. I think you bring up some good points.

  17. I think your husband handled it brilliantly, my nephew has been bullied at the swings and it does put you off going, if more people were like him the swings would be a nicer place for everyone

  18. WAY TO GO Charlie! Not only did you teach William a wonderful lesson hopefully the little monster and his mother got a message as well

  19. I did the Mama Bear thing once. I'm still a little ashamed of what I said to the kid who almost took my toddler down!

  20. William will toughen up with more socialization. I wouldn't worry about it. It's a dog eat dog world, Jen, and kids learn a lot from being around older kids, and not just bad behavior.

    That being said, Greg once told some kids at a park, who were making fun of Sarah because she still wore a diaper, "I bet you still pee your bed at night you little baby." and they ran away crying.

    My kids are going to school in a very racially/socio economically diverse school, so Greg has taught them how to stick up for themselves. Good job, Charlie. I see absolutely NOTHING wrong with what Charlie said. It's all part of the game called Life.

  21. I noticed the Blogher ad. Jen, Blogher is going to drive in a bunch of newbies and they will harrass you over practically anything you write. Just keep that in the back of your mind. Now that I read your comments, I already see it. Did you see how bad the comments got over on Itstwinsanity after she went to Discus and Blogher? It was terrible. Anyway, it's a dog eat dog world out there. I've got your back. Let me know if I need to make anyone cry.

  22. Oh man! This made me stressed just reading it! I'm so on ALERT when we go out with our child. I'm worried about the whole school thing. Children are a reflection of their parents & environment.

    Our William goes to the Waldorf School. If you have time check it out ~ I think you might really like the
    philosophy. It's very down to earth, healthy nutrition(rice day, oatmeal day & soup day at school), hand work, etc. We love it & I'm sure you have available programs in CA.

    We're on the fence for kindergarten with public school & private Waldorf. My dh is worried about the money for tuition but after everything we've been through to have our child what's a little more money?? He is our most valuable love ...just like your beautiful children (fabulous photos lately).

    Life goes bye so quickly. What is important? It's the little things like talking about soup day & listening to my William whistle & hearing a little story about a friend who gave a little poke during harp time. These are the blessings in everyday life that I haven't experienced in public education (I worked in public education for 12 years & have my misgivings).

    I want my child to be a whole & kind man who respects adults, other children & loves life. Your son is a "sweetheart" as a pp said...oh so sweet!

    Thank you for always sharing your family with us! T

  23. Hey Jen ~
    I just showed my son "William" your William's picture on your post & he said...he looks like he should be my twin. :) Isn't that cute? I did lose his twin at about 20 weeks so that was touching to me.

    You're a lucky woman to have all your beautiful children. Have a Happy Easter. I know the Easter Bunny will treat your family well. T

  24. Boys need big strong Daddies - go Charlie.

    William has such asweet spirit - love the innocence - why can't they stay that way.

  25. Once as a child the older kid down the street threatened us with a knife. (A hunting knife) and when my mom spoke with the mother she responded all boys need a knife. The next time my dad stepped up and the little boy gave him the bird and said you can't touch me. My father's response was: true but I'm sure your father will once I'm done with him.
    Sometimes it's good to put world into a real perspective. With that in mind didn't Charlie do a great job ;)

  26. Of course all of this took place out of our earshot but was related years later.

  27. Bwahaha!!

    Michele, thanks for having my back. I totally want to see you make somebody cry. Are you going to tell them they'll go to JAIL if they're mean to me?!? :)

  28. I went into shock when I read what Charlie did to that mean little fella, DUH... I should have known better. Sorry, forever doubting Charlie, he deserves the Best Dad Ever award!
    William is such a sweetie, so innocent, thoughtful, and kind! That bully and his caretaker were lucky that I wasn’t there!
    I didn't tell you what he said to me the day the kids and I walked down to my house, he was so darling. He looked at me with those beautiful expressive eyes and said "you have such beautiful long white hair" and he said it with such sincerity and passion! Can you imagine a little tyke like that, giving this old woman a compliment like that?
    You guys are doing a terrific job!
    BTW, if you ever need a date night, give us a call, we’ll be more than glad to sit…Free! Well, maybe a bottle of two buck chuck to get through the night ;o)
    ps...Blogging School?