The other day, Jack came home from daycare w/ his shirt ripped.I started asking him about it and according to his 4-year-old version, a boy named David in his class (who is now on my radar screen as the class bully) pushed Jack's friend. Jack stood up for his friend and told David he was a bully and to stop it(which if this is true, made me proud that he was able to stand up to a bully without using violence). Apparently, David the bully didn't like this because he then proceeded to, in pre-school fashion, give Jack a bit of an "ass-whooping" and the kid pushed Jack and ripped his shirt.
Of course, once I found this out, the protective lioness in me came out and I wanted to discuss this with his teacher. I know children have their spats and arguments as they are learning to socialize with one another. But I'm sorry, when my son comes home with a huge rip in the collar of his shirt, I find that to be a bit aggressive and excessive. I'm not going to get into a lot of detail here but suffice it to say that David appears to be widely known in the pre-school scene as a bully and they are "working on it". That's cool- I'm totally down with "working on it" as long as my son doesn't become the punching bag.
Fast forward to this morning. I am dropping Jack off at school and we are taking our time putting our belongings into his cubby when another boy and his mother come in. The boy immediately makes a beeline for Jack and goes nose to nose with him and doesn't say anything. Quiet intimidation. I feel the hair raising on the back of my neck as a watch Jack take a step backward and I hear the other boy's mom say, "David, I don't think that boy likes that." Grrrr...I feel my protective lioness state coming over me. So, this is David. I immediately turn away from the cubby and bend down to eye level with the two boys. I shoot David one of my best evil eyes and turn to Jack and say very loudly for David's mom to hear, "Jack, look at David and tell him to stop and back up- that you don't like it when he does that."
David's mom then says to David from across the room, "Yes, David. You need to remember body language. You need to watch people's body language." Ah ha. The pieces of the puzzle are coming together for me. She's one of those moms. The super-granola, lacking any trace of effective discipline, "use your words, honey" kind of moms. First of all, I would never profess to be the best parent on the planet, not by a long shot. But there are some things I know for sure.
1) You cannot reason with a 4-year-old. They just don't have the skills for it.
2) 4-year-olds don't know how to "read body language". I mean seriously? You are talking about kids that run instead of walk from place to place, pick their noses and put their hands down their pants. These are NOT the kids you want interpreting body language. That is just a ridiculous, unreasonable request.
3) Randomly requesting nicely from across a room to discipline your child very rarely works.
I then see David step away and go over to the other side of the room. I continue taking off Jack's boots very slowly because now I'm intrigued at what is going to happen next. I can see David is edgy. He's just waiting to be able to do something he shouldn't. I can feel it. I think David's mom can feel it too. He's pacing back and forth and touching things on a table he probably shouldn't. David's mom says, "Okay David, let's go to the other room now.". This apparently is David's queue to completely disobey his mother and begin running around the room like a complete lunatic. Instead of saying things like, "get over here right now" or "I will take the toy out of your hand if you do not stop running away from me" or better yet, how about walk over and drag your son out from under the table, David's mom says very pleasantly "David, honey, I'm going to count to five and then I'm going to carry you over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes." David's mom still hasn't moved an inch.
Again, I would never profess to be an awesome parent, but I will say, I have mastered the stomping fast walk toward my child paired with the crazy evil eye and the clenched teeth talk. When that happens, my kids know I mean business.
At this point, I've taken as much time as I can putting Jack's stuff away so it is very apparent that if I stay one moment longer, it's only to watch what will happen next with her freak show of a son. (can you tell I'm a bit bitter about Jack's ripped shirt???). But luckily for me, on our way out the door, David's mom left me with this one final nugget of parenting genius...
"David, honey, if you feel like you need to push something, push the wall. Just push the wall David. It won't move but you can push it."