Today at the library I took my fifteen month old to the Toddler class. I always dread it a little bit because he’s at that age where sharing becomes an issue and there’s bound to be conflict.
Sure enough, he was playing with a truck when a little boy of about three came up to him and tried to pull the truck out of his hands. With my older two children, I always made them give it up. I’m non confrontational and never wanted to upset the other child or his mother. I’ve had enough mama drama to last a lifetime. I taught my kids what I thought was the kind thing to do. At least that was my intention…
This was one of those moments where I had a thousand thoughts in a single instant.
I had a choice to make. Make Jax give it up and deal with his tears or not let the other little boy take the toy from him and deal with his potential tears and mama drama. Of course mama bear was nowhere in sight and as the boys each pulled to get the truck, I felt a familiar inner struggle.
I flashed back to last night with my seven year old Reed. I told him to get ready for bed and he burst into tears. I sensed that this was about more than just having to go bed so I asked why he was crying. He told me about a little boy at school that took something from him and wouldn’t give it back. This isn’t the first time this boy has taken something from Reed. Last week he took a spy pen that Reed had purchased from the student store with his own money and took it home.
Every time he tells me something like this I ask if he asked that it be returned and talk to the teacher or adult on yard duty at school if the child didn’t comply. Every time, he just lets it go without a fight. This is MY failure. I have made my issues theirs. This is what I have taught my children.
In trying to teach them to keep the peace, be kind and avoid conflict, I have made them weak.
I haven’t taught them to defend themselves and stick up for what is right when it is appropriate. I haven’t taught them that it’s not ok for someone to take something from you. I have taught them the opposite! I have taught them how to be victims of bullies.
There’s a fine line between being kind and being bullied so I”m teaching Jax where to draw the line.
Instead of making Jax give it up, I asked the little boy to let go because Jax had it first. He said no and continued to fight. This time I TOLD him instead of asking, a little more firmly and he continued to pull the truck, say no, all the while Jax is screaming and mama bear has yet to make an appearance.
I told the little boy Jax had it first and that the could play with it when Jax was done and took it out of his hands. He ran off crying to mama which was the first indication that I had she was even in the room.
I felt a little bad for him when I saw his tears but I felt a little proud too. He is not my child or my problem. It is his mom’s job to teach him to not take toys from other kids and to share. While it isn’t my responsibility, I’m not doing that kid any favors either by letting him get away with it either. This world is filled with entitled children and people who people like me let get away with it.
It IS my job to protect Jax from being bullied, even if he is just a baby. How else is he going to learn? Who is going to teach him if not me?
I’m sad to say I know the answer to that. Other kids. The other kids that bully my seven year old and take advantage of his kind nature and inability to speak up for himself. That is who will teach Jax if I don’t teach him otherwise.
I watched the other mother’s response, ready to explain and defend myself but she just redirected him to another truck so she must have been used to the problem.
All this time and all these years I’ve let my children down just to avoid the mama drama and there was none.
Maybe next time there will be but I’ll be ready for it. I’m done caring what other people think about me. I don’t answer to them and I’m not responsible for them or their children. I’m responsible for the three little souls God has placed in my care and I WILL teach them to fight.
I will teach them to defend themselves when they are wronged.
I will teach them the difference between sharing and being taken advantage of. If they choose to be kind and give something up that belongs to them, I will know it’s coming from a good place in their heart and not because they feel that they have no other choice.
This mama bear has awoken from hibernation and is ready to fight for her cubs!
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