I had one of "those" parenting moments yesterday. It was one of those moments when you're just not sure what to do. Jonas was playing in the park with the neighborhood kids and they were picking on him. It started with them mimicking the way he speaks. He came in crying, regrouped and went out to try again. It kept getting worse, until he finally got so mad that he decided to take a shovel to the park "to show them how it feels." OIY!
I kept the back door and my ears open. stopped the shovel strategy, and gave him a huge hug when he came in. I told him that I used to get picked on too. I even had my own bully. Her name was Laurie and I never did figure out why she chose me as her target. I told him that my parents used to tell me to try and ignore them - sticks and stones and all that. I also told him that that advice never made me feel any better. I comiserated with him over the fact that other people can be really mean sometimes. I asked him what he thought would happened if he hit someone with that shovel and whether he thought that would make him feel better or worse, etc.... (Doing the right thing was a bit of a theme for me this weekend, but that's another blog.) I was at a loss about what else to say to him.
For the most part, I try to stay out of the neighbourhood kid's social-political scene. I grew up believing that we can't change other people, we can only change ourselves, so my focus has been on helping Jonas learn how to deal with his feelings. When one of the other kids came over to say that he "know(s) why Jonas (is) upset..." I told him that I knew why as well, that I heard the whole thing and would probably feel the same way Jonas did if that happened to me.
I didn't know what else to say to them either. I REALLY wanted to help them understand what they were doing but they aren't my kids, they aren't my nephews, they aren't my Scouts and they're not even his schoolmates. They're effectively strangers, other people's kids, who my kid can choose to play with or not. He so desperately wants to be friends with them but he ends up in tears every single time he plays with them.
Learning tolerance is tough. "Normal" kids have a hard time learning tolerance for people who are different, and our kids need to learn to tolerate that learning curve. The whole thing is painful for everyone, mom included.