The other day I was told that my daughter and her best friend Dan were at the park and were “being mean” to Frances, a three-year-old. They were all at the park together, Nat, Dan Maxine (Dan’s little sister) and Frances, and the older ones started playing a game which involved being “mean” to Frances. I don’t know the exact mechanics of what happened as this was relayed to us Moms later by the babysitters, but what was most upsetting was that the older ones apparently threw rocks at poor little Frances.
It’s a horrible thought, that your child is capable of maliciousness. We all believe in our heads that our kids are nothing short of angelic (beneath the naughtiness). I didn’t find out until more than a week after the incident (Dan’s busy Mom forgot to tell me – he got grounded) , so by then it was too late to punish Nat. But we did have a little talk. I needed an explanation. I knew Nat wasn’t an angel, she certainly had more than her fair share of naughtiness, but she wasn’t a mean kid either. Ok, so she did tease her little brother a lot, but she was always sweet to the baby and I just didn’t see any maliciousness in her behaviour for the 7 years that I’ve known her.
So was this park incident just mischief or maliciousness? Was my daughter actually bullying?
According to Wikipedia:
Bullying is the act of intentionally causing harm to others, through verbal harassment, physical assault, or other more subtle methods of coercion such as manipulation.
Well, like I said, I wasn’t there. Nat and Dan have been known to cook up mischief when they were together, but never to this degree (weelll…they were caught pelting toys at the babysitter when they were 3). But more importantly, they are actually very sweet kids. Compassionate, kind and basically good 7-year-old’s – definitely not the bullying types.
So Nat, to the best of her ability, told me what happened two weeks ago. She said they were simply playing a “monster” game and Frances was the “monster”- which the unsuspecting Frances she didn’t know she was. She said they weren’t really being mean to the little girl, and that she couldn’t remember if she was throwing rocks or not. Okay…. At least she was very sorry when I explained how this sort of thing was just unacceptable and that if it happened again there would be serious consequences. I think she knew it was wrong in the back of her mind, but the mischief and fun in playing this game took over. The incident is over now, and the kids are all friends…so lets pray it doesn’t happen again.
Photo via bullyinguk