How do you handle the bullies in your life? Do you let them get away with their behavior and “just ignore it,” or do you fight back and stand up for yourself? In some situations, it’s hard to tell someone that they are acting out-of-line if they have a higher position than you at work or are prone to physical violence. But what about when our kids are being bullied? We want nothing more than to step in and discipline the unruly child, but too many times there are things that might stand in the way of ever making a distance…and that is usually the bully’s life at home.
There is a bully at my son’s day care. His mere presence makes my son aggressive and many of the other children do not like him. At this age kids can still be friends but it won’t be much longer before this little boy is a permanent outcast.
Today I told the day care director that I didn’t want my son in class with the bully any more. I didn’t like hearing that the bully had once again hit him with something, or that my son got in trouble for retaliating. I don’t like my son coming home upset or aggressive because of this bully. I’m not the only one either – other parents recently have come forward to ask for relief from this boy.
We know this boy outside of day care as well. There is a little lakeside park for our neighborhood and we see him down there often. His muscle-bound dad takes the boy down there, then lets him run around unsupervised while he plays sand volleyball for hours.
The bully runs around shoving other kids, attempting to drown other children, and generally just running amok. I have stepped in to discipline him on numerous occasions, so much so that some people think he is my son.
Sometimes the volleyball meathead brings his new future wife and a couple of other boys that are his brothers or half-brothers, not sure which. The stepmom often has to rush in to grab the little bully after he’s terrorized yet another child. The other parents at the lake give her the evil eye as though it’s her fault. Meanwhile, Mr. Competitive continues his volleyball games unfazed.
The little bully also tries to play with his older brothers, but that doesn’t usually last long. They push him around, yell at him, and generally just be assholes to the little guy every chance they get. Before I knew they were related, I actually yelled at those boys to leave the kid alone one time. Turns out I was standing right next to the dad and stepmom. Neither one said a thing before or after I intervened.
The good thing is the older brothers left him alone and walked away. I looked over at the little boy and my heart sank. He was standing there with a sad, empty look on his face. All at once, I could tell he didn’t know why these things were happening to him. He didn’t understand why his father didn’t help him. He didn’t know why his brothers were so mean. He looked over at me and for just a moment, his eyes lit up as if to thank me. Then he ran off to play somewhere else in the park.
After that day when I drop off/pick up my son from day care, the little bully tells me about his day, shares stories, shows me his arts and crafts, and every once in a while gives me a hug. The little guy really likes me and it breaks my heart.
This little 4-year-old boy is being raised to fail in life and there’s nothing I can do about it. He’s being neglected by his parents, abused by his brothers, and is about to be taken away from all the kids he considers friends. The worst part is I don’t think he will understand what is going on. The rejection from his father, the abuse from the brothers, and the exasperated indifference of his stepmother is going to shape his life in a very negative way.
I wish there was something more I could do. It makes me so sad to see such a handsome, articulate, outgoing, and capable little boy being taken down this path of darkness. I can’t adopt him. I will have just keep doing what I’m doing. Smiling and listening to his stories. Accepting his hugs. Running interference at the lake. Taking the stares of angry parents who think he’s my boy. Maybe he’ll remember the one man who gave him the attention and discipline little boys crave and that will keep him afloat.
Hopefully this dad’s approach will be able to benefit the kid in a way that will help him to remember what “right” and “wrong” behavior is…even if his parents don’t care about his well-being one small bit. And that breaks MY heart, too…
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