“Here Em, come here, you can climb down the rocket. Stay there, I’ll go around and show you how,” Emma is about to turn three, and I’ve started to realize that there are a lot of things that she is capable of doing that I haven’t encouraged her to do. I flipped her on her belly and positioned each foot and hand in the slots of a tube attached to a play structure, that Emma has named ‘the rocket.’ After she climbed down she ran over to another element on the play structure, a rope attached to some steep stairs. I was just thinking about how to help her up it when a boy about six rounded the corner, he looked at Emma,
“BOO!” he yelled and then climbed up the rope cutting her off. Emma cowered a bit and then put her hand on the rope, wanting to climb up after him. I took her hand and moved her away, I was suspicious that this child was capable of violence. I took her over to ‘the rocket,’
“Here Emma want to climb up the rocket?”
“No,” she cowered, put her hands to her mouth, and began to bend her knees together, the beginnings of a melt down. The boy ran up next to us,
“That’s not a rocket,” he says.
“Yes, it is,” I said defending my daughter’s imagination. Emma was now almost to the ground with her hands in her mouth. The little bully, I mean boy, whipped in front of us and started climbing ‘the rocket.’
I grabbed Emma and put her on my hip and took her another structure. The boy’s mom was several feet away talking to someone else. I know it was her because we were the only moms on the playground. The boy was right behind us and whipped up the stairs as I was trying to convince Emma to climb them. The meltdown was in full tilt. I didn’t want to leave yet, because we had a few more minutes until dinner time and I wanted her to play.
And I didn’t want to be driven off the playground by a six year old. I kept thinking,
“Should I call out to the other mom and ask for help, what do I say, ‘Your rude son is chasing us around.’ Or, ‘Can I get a little help, please?’”
Emma didn’t want to climb those stairs, how about the slide? We are wailing now. I threw her back on my hip and marched to our stroller and plunked her down. Handed her juice, took a breath, and looked up at the other mom. She was looking at me like I had done gone and lost my mind. I grabbed the handle bars of the stroller, wheeled it around and left.
I could hear the boy stomping on the structure behind me shouting,
“This is my playground!” He had followed us again.
I could feel the hot bubbles pop in my blood.
I may have hissed something under my breath as I left. Might have.
My heels pounded the ground as I marched home. Emma was calm now, pacified by juice. Was I just chased off the playground by a kindergarten bully? Should I have corrected him? Should I have said something to that mom?
When we rounded the corner, I saw Scott’s bright green shirt coming toward us. As I let the presence of my husband relax I could feel the shaking rise, the little gurgle of tears in the back of my throat, was I that angry? I was.
Scott told me that I did the best thing, that I took the path of peace.
What do you think? What should I have done? Did I do the right thing? What are the playground rules about these situations?