December 5, 2011

The making of a bully

Category: Being Parents

While at the Funarium – a 2000-sq.m. facility of playground for toddlers and kids (a review for another post) tucked away in Soi 26 – the other day, I witnessed a not-so-nice incident as I was minding Spud.

What I observed was this:

Two boys of about the same age (my guess is about 4-5 years old) were both fighting over some sort of a boxing-like cushion. One of the boys, let’s call him A, had roughly snatched the object in question away from another child (let’s call him child B, and perhaps just slightly younger than Child A), causing Child B to go into a screaming fit.

Child A, meanwhile, after winning the battle by yanking the boxing-cushion away with brute force of an 8-year old, then looked on at Child B with a sneer. In the meantime, the father of Child A, who obviously did nothing to break-up the earlier fight, was slouching away in a corner less than a meter away from his own child, watching the entire fiasco unfold before his very own eyes. With the boxing-cushion in Child A’s hands and a triumphant glow on his face , he then glanced-up to his father, my guess is to get some form of acknowledgment from a person he looks up to. I guess he got what he needed – for as soon as Child A looked up at his father, that man gave his son the Thumbs Up.

Yep. I definitely noticed a big fat thumbs-up alright; which I thought was an appalling sight! For, what I saw was an impressionable child effectively bullying another kid, younger than he was, and there was the father giving the Thumbs Up?! What the fuck is that supposed to mean?

I could feel myself seething with anger, and I really wanted to bitch-slap that man’s face. But I didn’t think that it was my place to say or do anything and I had no right. (Besides, I pretended not to notice). All I could do was looked up to Silver Bullet and rolled my eyes at what I saw. I shook my head in disgust as my first thought trailed to, “this is how a bully is created!”

I darted my eyes around the room, and saw Child B screaming his head off as his father moved towards him. I’m not sure if Child B’s father saw the incident, and if he did, then perhaps, he probably just did not want to make a big deal out of it. After all, I agree that to a certain extent, it probably be a good thing to let the kids sort out their differences themselves rather than parents get involved unless necessary.

I had a sneaking suspicion that perhaps, he had told his son to go play somewhere else after the incident as I never did see Child B anywhere near that horrid father-and-child A again. If I am the parent of Child B, I probably would have done the same. ( i.e by disassociating my child with the bully)

In my mind, that was a classic case of how little bullies grow into big bullies. Each time a bully gets away with his act, which as a child, probably was taught that it was the right thing to do, he is then encouraged to do it again – especially so when he gets a thumbs up, an approval for his bullying.

Moments later, Child A’s father continued interacting with his son, and most of the time, all we could hear was his barking orders to his kid. And I mean real barking, like yelling for his son to do this, do that.Take this to there, and take that to this, and don’t do this and do that instead. The kid was clearly not listening to his instructions and I saw that he was just doing the opposite of what was being told. As I looked on, I saw a few people making a bee-line out of their way. In a way, I kind of feel sorry for the kid.

This was not the first time I witnessed something like that, and I know it will not be my last either.

It makes me sad, this. There already are not very many pleasant people around in this lifetime, and yet there are very well-educated but irresponsible people out there breeding kids teaching their own flesh and brood that it is absolutely okay to be mean and be a bully just so that they feel better about themselves.

I am not about to preach what to do, and what not to do, but I hope, we as parents can make it a priority to not just teach our kids tolerance, but to also teach them the appreciation for other people.

There probably are many kids out there stomping on each other’s heart and while kids bully or kids get bullied can be considered a sad reality to some, it is not a concession of the ways of being in this world. It is too selfish. It just cannot be.

I don’t know what I’ll do if ever I see Spud in such a situation – perhaps I can only figure it out when the time comes. But I do know that I should be able to tell Spud that we don’t have to get along or even like each other, but there is no reason to be mean or feel superior to others. There is no room for bullies in our household.

The scene from Funarium reminded me of a post I blogged about on kids’ mimicry.

Times like this, the reality of us parents being a role model to our kids truly hit home.

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