An incident which happened at a children’s playground of a department store last weekend had me mulling on the topic of disciplining other people’s kids.
Now, I don’t know what it is about some parents’ or guardians’ stance of (not) disciplining their kids these days, but in my world, there is no place for bullying. And, every toddler who has the tendency to do so ought to be disciplined.
Let me be clear that while I have no intentionto try to discipline other people’s kids, I have no qualms doing it and putting the kid in his/her place if and when the need arises.
For a toddler too young to defend herself, I don’ t think it is ever intruding to intervene, especially so when the behaviour is dangerous or harmful to another child. It is something which you just cannot ignore.
In my mind, any child who misbehaves (that includes mine!) needs to be removed from the situation completely. That is, behave and you can stay, or misbehave and you are no longer allowed to play. Kick and scream for all I care – you don’t get to play if you are not being nice!
What happened that weekend after our frantic search for a playground was this:
Whilst letting Spud loose at the said playground, I observed a behaviour which I deemed completely unacceptable displayed by a toddler of about 3.5-4 years of age.
The venue, for the record, is a small little playground tucked away in a children’s section and, going by one of the ground rules, the playground is only for kids whose height is NOT MORE than 100 cm. (Spud’s about 95 cm tall with a tiny head, and that kid was clearly at least 1.5 head taller than her!).
According to height limitation, that was Rule #1 broken. He was also easily the oldest kid around. I honestly did not care much about his presence initially. Spud has been playing quite happily by herself and at the same time, also making friends with other kids as they chased each other around.
But as time went by, I noticed that the 3.5 year old boy was actually quite boisterous and was purposely getting in the way of other kids.
He basically disregarded other kids – shoving them aside as he went down the slide. Without any inhibitions (I guess that’s what toddlers do, which is acceptable provided they are supervised), pushed kids from the back of their heads and then just SLAMMED himself as hard as he could to the other tots who were sliding down to the bottom of the slide (which is completely unacceptable under ANY circumstances)!
The first time I saw him doing that to other kids, I let it go thinking that it could just be something unintentional on his part or that I was just being sensitive. Nevertheless, after getting some affirmation from Silver Bullet who also saw the incident, I continued observing him from the sidelines and wondering who his parents or guardian was. He was the kind of kid who sorts of expect to get his way all the time, and if he doesn’t, he jolly well makes sure he gets it by being a bully to systematically take all others out of the equation.
Moments later, I saw him doing the same to Spud. He shoved her aside even after the poor girl had actually let him go first, and then pushed her head when she went down as he slid down and then crashed into her. The moment I saw that from where I was, I let out a rather loud “Oiiiii!” and a shriek.
Too late to intervene as Spud tumbled down the slide, face first. I kept my cool, waiting for Spud’s reaction as the boy’s Nanny called out his name and basically did not even move her ass to him and continued “watching” him from the sideline.
Spud, not sure what had happened, saw me smiling at her (I had to put up a brave front!) and took it in her stride when she went a-tumbling down. She quickly recovered, giggled heartily with a huge grin on her face and ran off again. Seeing her reaction, I let it go; but not quite leaving my eyes off that boisterous boy.
Then I saw him doing it to Spud at least twice more. All of this time, the Nanny did nothing to stop his terrible behaviour. As we were about to leave anyway, I walked nearer to the top of the slide to gather up Spud as she was about to come down. I then saw him coming from behind Spud. This time, he actually pushed Spud to the most left side of the slide (she actually scooted over to give way to him) as she was about to sit down on the slide to get herself going. She lost her balance slightly (horror on my face as it was quite a height), and as she was just about to recover her balance, he pushed the back of her head with his bare hands to get Spud out of his way. She tumbled again slightly and, had he pushed her any further or harder, Spud could have easily lose her footing and fall off the higher end of the slide and potentially break her neck!
By now, I was seething with anger. I had to intervene. I basically held Spud, stopped the boy in his tracks by getting to his eye level, held out a finger to his face , and in a very stern, loud and authoritative tone of voice said, “BEHAVE! Stop it. That was not nice! YOU BEHAVE”.
The brat had the cheek to look at me and grinned back, as if mocking me. Gosh! I wanted to slap his face purple. At this point, his Nanny came forward and just called out his name. Again. That was all she did. Called out his name and nothing else! I was so mad at how she handled it and I told her off quite loudly that she needs to teach him some bloody manners and how to behave properly. She did not even apologise, and let him loose once again.
I then passed Spud off to Silver Bullet – all the while very conscious that at least 10 pairs of adults’ eyes were on me.
In particular, there was this one older man (likely to be in his 50s) who was giving me a deathly stare while he was talking to the boy’s Nanny as we were getting out of that place. I wanted to ignore it, but I was still extremely pissed off, and so I then looked back at that old man (he was still staring intently at me) and in a confrontational way I went, “What?! Was that your kid?!” (Ok…one could argue that I should just let it be and ignored his stares, but on this one, I was not willing to let go)
That man immediately went berserk on me. He started yelling in Thai, obviously unhappy that I challenged him; perhaps because he felt that I had made him “lose face”. Maybe because I was younger than him, and as a general rule, the older Thais do not appreciate being challenged. I then raised my voice at him, telling him the same thing I told the Nanny – teach that boy some manners! He wanted to fight me and when Silver Bullet intervened, he started hurling abuses in Thai as if challenging us to fight him.
He was relentless and as he got all riled up, his wife (I assumed) and a few other people were all trying to stop him from launching himself at us. It is usually not like Silver Bullet to be as confrontational as I am, and when he did (while he was wearing Spud!), I had to pull Silver Bullet away as it got all intense. That stupid guy was just hideous!
I assumed he must have been related to the boy, possibly his grandson or something (or why else would he be so defensive?). At the back of my mind, I was actually more petrified that it would get out of hand, and if he is an influential guy, there may be a chance that he may get people to come after us! In fact, the chances of the rest of the Thais ganging up on us to side with him were very real as we are the foreigners, regardless if it was his fault in the first place.
Still seething, we walked away…his yelling and abuses could still be heard from a distance.
It was not pleasant. In fact, that was one of the most uncivilized ways for any mature adult to deal with such a situation. Had he been nicer about the fact that he is unhappy that I was disciplining his grandchild, the least he could do was come to me and ask for an explanation. Instead, abuses were hurled in a language I don’t quite understand, and trying to lure us to get into a physical scuffle if it was up to him; an assumption I made, judging from his aggressive body language.
Honestly, I have nothing against the kid, but I blame his behaviour solely on his parents/guardian who fails to see the effect he would have on other people as they think it is OKAY to turn their heads with an excuse, “oh! He is just a little child!”Sure, he is just a little child on his way to ascend the throne to bullyism and being a menace to society, that’s what!
Granted, if Spud happens to be the bully, I would also like it very much for the adults who saw Spud bullying other kids put Spud in her place. I would certainly appreciate the gesture of any parent coming forward to me and inform me of Spud’s misdeeds so that Spud knows she won’t get away with any of it. There are of course, always 2 sides of a coin – but I’d like to think that I can be fair as a parent and as an adult.
Of course there would come a time when Spud needs to stand up for herself, for I can’t always be defending her all the time. However, until that time comes, she is still a defenseless child who could barely string 5 words together to form a sentence, let alone understand the whole concept of bullying. My primary instinct is to protect her from getting physically hurt just because of another child’s misdeeds from poor disciplinary measures exercised by the parents/guardian.
I don’t have the patience for rudeness and bullying. And for fucks’ sake – you are the parent, these kids are your responsibility and yes, boundaries need to be established. As parents, if you don’t start setting the boundaries now, then when?Please PARENT, if you have kids. If you are not there to do the job, delegate that task to the nanny/guardian who is minding your kids and give them the authority to do the disciplining.
And, as for that stupid fuck -faced Thai guy who hurled abuses at us, I hope you fall flat on your face one of these days, break your teeth and choke on them as your beloved grandchild stomp all over you on your big, fat, arrogant and senseless head!