4/27/2010

The Other Side

Often times I run against a wall in my career that I can't argue against because it's completely true; however, I know that I do take it into consideration when I do my work.  The wall?

You don't have children!

Can't argue with it.  I don't have children.  I don't know what it's like to be a parent.

I do know what it's like to put a child first and foremost.  I do know what it's like to want to (and do) lay your life down for a child.  I do know what it's like to get that protective instinct for a child, so much that you just want to pop the offender standing in front of you...but you don't because that wouldn't be right, right?

I have nieces, nephews, and goddaughters that I would go to the moon and back for.  How do I know what it's like to get the vicious protective instinct?  Because I have it for them.

Case in point (just one example because it happened last week):

I took my 4 year old nephew to a kid-zone place.  You know the kind that has those huge enclosed climbing structure mazes with ball pits, slides, tunnels, tubes, and a whole bunch of other things?  Yeah, one of those.

I climbed around in there for over an hour with him as he acclimated to the environment.  He is a bit slow to warm to active places, although he does love them.  After an hour he reached out to a couple of children (a 5-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl).  They began their play when the two other children tried to stop him (in a playful way) from crossing one the area with hanging punching bags.

He laughed, giggled, and played right along.

The two children went running off without him.  He went looking for them and, when he found them they were running back from the adult area.  They then went off into the structure and my nephew went following after them.

They played for a bit, I watched from a distance (I needed the rest, an hour in there is a HUGE work out if you've never been).  However, something inside me told me to keep a CLOSE EYE on the situation.

Then I started noticing that the other two children were starting to "team up" against him.  The aunt in me wanted to run over and save him from the "meanies"; but I didn't.  I restrained myself because he could handle it.  He has before.

He'd run after them, they'd run off.  Nothing was said, and occasionally they would let him play with them for a bit before running off.  A few times I saw the little girl run out to the adult area and then run back.

Then it happened.  The situation that got me running back in there, but I was too late.  There was a hammock type platform where children could crawl up on it and bounce around.  There's room up there for about 4 children.  The two children were up there and my nephew was trying to get up.  They kept pushing him back off.  He was determined to get up there and they were determined (and NOT in a playful way) to not let him up there.

Before I got there (it's a maze up there, I was on the outside, and I hate that I didn't get there in time), the girl kicked my nephew in the face...completely on purpose...gave him a split lip...I wanted to take her out!

He came to me with tears in his eyes and was a bit confused.  I sat and hugged him, we went and got ice from the counter...then it was ON!

The manager happened to be there when I got ice and immediately showed concern for him.  I thank her immensly!  She immediately wanted to know which child it was.  We began walking over to the structure and I spotted the little girl, the boy was nowhere around.  The girl's mom happened to be calling her out at that very moment to go home.

The manager stopped that lady and explained what happened.  The mom's response?  "Well, she came over to my 3 times and told me there was a little boy who kept saying he wanted to fight with her."

Oh, wrong answer.  Especially since I was standing there for the majority of there play.  Especially since I was there when they first met up and the other two children had been the one's to start the rough play.  Especially since I was watching closely the entire time and I know he hadn't said anything those other times they had run off.  Especially since he was the one sitting there with a bloody lip.  Especially since I wanted to throttle the woman.

First?  You're child came to you THREE TIMES and told you someone wanted to fight her?  Okay, the first time you might send her back and say, "Well, tell him that's not a nice thing to do and we don't play like that."  MAYBE the second time you might send her back and say, "Then just don't play with him."  But the THIRD TIME???  You haul your butt off that couch and go find out what is going on!

Second?  SO NOT WHAT WAS HAPPENING!  Yes, I'm the aunt and I might want to protect him, but seriously?  I can take a step back and look at the situation.  I have no problem telling my nephew, "Honey, you were playing rough, that's what happens."

Last?  There was no sense in standing around talking to that woman because she didn't even show any remorse for the injured child in front of her.  SERIOUSLY!  Not even an, "I'm sorry you got hurt" or "Wow, your lip is very bloody and even though I think you were fighting with my daughter I'm being told by SEVERAL adults now that it's not how it happened and I hope your lip feels better."

Nope!  Not a single thing.  I think the manager knew that we weren't getting anywhere either and let the lady leave.  She turned to me and said, "Well, they're leaving now, but if they weren't I would have told them to leave." 

She also gave us a free ticket for next time.

I don't blame the place at all.  It was children playing...one of them completely unsupervised and, obviously, the parent didn't want to supervise anyway.

Did that "mama bear" come out of me?  Oh heck yeah!

Do I know what it's like to be a parent?  Exactly?  No, but I do know what it's like to go into instinctive protective mode.  I do it all the time, every day, with ever child in my care...Okay, it comes out a bit more with my nephew, but you know what I mean, right?

1 comment:

Barbra Stephens said...

Owning a piano doesn't necessarily make you a pianist, right?
I have seen teachers behave in the way that particular parent did and parents behave the way you did in that exact situation.
I have the utmost respect for parents and know that I cannot fully do a good job if they see me as a enemy or refuse to be involved with their child's education.

I personally don't feel now that anyone has "got my number" because I have not birthed a child. Last time I checked that was not a job requirement. No one can tell me the passion, drive and protective nature I feel for these children is not real. Any one who uses an excuse 'parent' excuse like that on me (and they have) is simply looking for a way out of a situation and to discredit my me.
It's okay if good advice is welcome from me. I have went to my director for help and made sure some kind of connection was made for the parent and child's sake.

I suppose what has really had me to see the situation differently was working with at risk children and in parent reunification programs.