Monday, December 7, 2009

Special kind of kindness

So I've been focusing on kindness in recent months - not just the idea of kindness, but really the practice of kindness.  In fact, I went as far as to make it my specific goal for this Christmas season - to find ways to extend kindness at a time when people are so, well, unkind.  (Imagine the parking lot at the mall, and you get the picture.)

This was my Facebook update yesterday afternoon: "who can explain to me why kindness is such a hard concept for people to embrace?"

Not three minutes after I posted this query, my four year old came banging in the front door.  His cheeks were bright pink, and he blurted out Mommy, the reason I had to come inside is that there are bullies - two big boys - outside throwing snowballs, an' one hit me in my face! 

A half-second later I was out on my front porch scanning the street for suspects.  I saw two pre-teen boys ambling up the path next to our house, and I demanded if those were the boys.  When Lars confirmed that yes, 'dose are the guys',  I tore down my front steps and out to the street without taking the time to change out of slippers.

HEY!  I shouted.  Are you the guys throwing snowballs at four year olds? [cue vague grunts & mumbling denials.]  I SAID, are you the guys who were down the hill there throwing snowballs at little kids?  Because I want to know IN WHAT WORLD is it ok for kids as old as you to throw snowballs in kindergarteners faces?  How OLD are you anyway? [uh, 13.]  AND HOW ABOUT YOU? [uh, I'm 11.]  SO REALLY?  YOU THOUGHT IT WOULD BE COOL TO THROW ICY SNOWBALLS IN MY  KIDS FACE?!?!?!  

At this point they tried to argue it wasn't them throwing the snowballs.  They tried - weakly - to suggest that my kid had thrown snowballs at them.  Both tacks, whilst perhaps inspired defenses in the 'tween mind, served only to fuel my indignation and wrath.

So I dropped my voice down low (an old cheerleading trick, much handier in parenting than it ever was on the sidelines.)  And here is what I said:

Listen - and listen good:  If I EVER see you NEAR my child, or my home, or if I EVER even HEAR about either one of you coming near my child, I will PERSONALLY make sure that you are VERY VERY SORRY.   Do you get that?  Get away from my house, and get away from the kids in this neighborhood. NOW.

Now, not only have I been 'choosing' kindness this year, not only have I been pursuing ways to be gentler with those around me, I also fancy myself as a bit of a cool customer when it comes to parenting.  I do my best not to freak out when there are injuries (real or imagined), I work hard at accepting all the outrageous things kids do without judging them, and I certainly never planned on screaming at preteen boys in my fake fur slippers.

If you'd asked me, maybe presented the above scene as a 'theoretical' to me, in the days before I became a parent, I would say maybe that the kids needed to figure it out.  I would say that maybe the four year old instigated it.  I would say that overreacting would only make the incident worse. 

Oh, but the white-hot fury.  The absolute primal reaction of a parent protecting a child - of wanting anyone, be they thirteen or ninety,  to know just how wrong hurting little people is?  Well I took myself by surprise. 

Seems I'm not quite as evolved as I'd imagined.  But with 24 hours to look back at the scenario, I still have the same reaction.  I will be as kind as I am able - just don't touch my cubs.


Cheryl said...

good job, momma bear! Bet those kids had to run home and wash their drawers! lol I am the same way (re: all my posts on peanut allergy) and to those who think it's up to kids to work it out, I might remind them that not everyone has a Lord of the Flies mentality to parenting. I say bravo to you!! Oh - and the pic of the bear? Hysterical!

Lori-Anne said...

I haven't had any situations like this arise yet, and I honestly don't know how I would react - but I really, really hope it would be something like this!

Anonymous said...

And furthermore, I honestly believe that this was a case of kindness - you were very kind to let them know that their behaviour warranted WORSE than the mama bear! My buddy from the W. Indies says that the one thing she disagrees with in the culture is that anyone, and that is ANYONE, can spank your child if they see them misbehaving. Not sure I'de go that far, but I cheer your defense. Yeah, and yes I do!!!!! Grampa Jack saw this potential in you and was proud of you!

Annie said...

Honestly, I would have done the same. Kindness is also protecting the innocent from harm. Kindness is correcting bad behavior toward small children, period. It surely is asking the culprits to consider their behavior against civilized standards. Even if those boys don't understand that, they will probably think twice before invoking the Furies again.

Juggler said...

I love you so much for this. Mama Bear indeed. And it was actually an act of kindness. Those boys now know that actions have consequences. They are lucky it was you to set them straight on this now. Lars knows that you will always stand up for him, and stand up for what is right. Ever read any of the studies about criminals that show that they all start with petty stuff. Catch the petty and the major is avoided. You did those kids a favor.

Gasmeter said...

I work with, among other, kinder creatures, a whole bunch of 11-13-year-old boys. Believe me, BELIEVE ME, you took the right approach. Too many of them, especially the ones ill-mannered (read: ill-parented) enough to even consider walloping a little dude with a snow sandwich, need nothing so much as SOMEONE to scare the dumbass out of them. Three cheers you for supporting the cause!

I would have eaten the little thugs for breakfast if I'd known for sure they'd done that to Scarlett. Screw kindness. Harm my kid and you're mincemeat.

Amanda said...

Hi, it appears that "Gasmeter" was logged onto my computer when I made that last comment but I didn't notice. So just for the record, that was me. Only a few of his customers are still (mentally, at any rate) pre-pubescent.

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