My 4 year old is being bullied. I feel like crying. He has a "friend" (when you're 4 the mailman is your friend, you pretty much don't discriminate) who throws his weight around. I don't let Alex play with this friend unless I can supervise him. I encourage them to play in our yard. Alex hasn't played with this friend in a few months and the other day he heard him out in the yard and begged to be able to go play. I gave in. I want to get along with the people we live next door to, and I get tired of saying "no" all the time, so I said he could go out and play as long as I could see him. I threw my son to the wolves.
Deep down, I knew something would happen. It always does. How many second chances does one kid need? I left the door open and I checked on Alex every 5 minutes. I could hear them out in the yard playing together. Then, suddenly, Alex was at the front door, in tears, covered in mud from head to toes. It took two baths to get all the dirt out of his hair. He'd been pushed in the mud and despite his saying no, had dirt and worms put in his hair by his "friend" while his other "friend" - the little sister who I do approve of Alex playing with, kicked him in the ribs.
It's a very powerless feeling to know that you set someone up for abuse. I remember feeling the same way when someone jumped my brother years ago, while I was left in charge when my parents were out of town. The same emotions, the heartbreak, the guilt and the second guessing. If only I'd been there, I could have prevented this.
If I had been outside with Alex, instead of inside with the other two, perhaps he would have been safe. Perhaps not. Right under my nose this "friend" destroys our property, throws rocks at my kids, scares the crap out of Connor, and hurts Alex. He's very good at what he does and is very quick. I've seen him abusing his little sister and his dog. Never when his parents are watching, of course.
I'm an idiot. I want my children to be able to play kick the can in the backyard with all the neighbourhood kids, the way we used to do. I want them to be able to go next door, knock, and say "Can my friend come out and play?" I'd like to turn off the tv all summer while my children get dirty and suntanned the way children are supposed to. Idealic? Maybe. Maybe there is nothing to do except sever all ties complete and become the unfriendly neighbours. I'm at a loss.
I told the parents today what happened and why my children are not allowed to play with their's. Nothing will come of it, but at least I went to bat for my son. Apparently Alex is the only victim of this particular bully. I find that hard to swallow. Does my son have a "kick me" sign on his back? Does Alex invite this kind of behaviour? I don't think so! We all want to think the best of our children and, to that extent, are probably in denial about one or more of their personality quirks. But I'm not worried about the kind of man Alex is growing in to... I am worried about the other boy.
Sometimes parenting sucks!