After how much John enjoyed the Epiphany party yesterday, I am feeling inspired to try more often to get him to the two Catholic homeschooler groups' Monday morning play date at a park and Friday afternoon co-op/play time at our parish. So, today I took the children to the park at the appointed time for the play date, but it happened to be a week when none of the homeschooling mothers showed up, which happens sometimes. The children had so much fun and John is clearly blossoming with extending friendliness to other kids. He palled around with one boy ("who also had a red jacket, just like me!") and I heard him invite the boy to sit with us at lunch and later say farewell, "I had fun playing with you!" The kids also did beautifully with listening to my expectations before we got out of the car, then following them (coming when called, sharing with other children, pausing to eat when I told them it was time for lunch, and not whining when it was time to leave the park--and we would be losing park privileges if these expectations were broken).
Sadly, it seems that every time we go to some public place like this, my kids meet bullies/untrained kids. I just hate it! At one point Mary was walking along a path between play structures and a child bigger than her (but probably a bit younger) was walking towards us, going the opposite direction. Even as he approached, the mother (walking too far behind) called out, "You'd better be nice to that girl!" Clearly, the mother must have known the toddler's habits because the boy walked straight up to Mary and pushed her hard with nary a word.
Then later a boy who I judged to be about six months younger than John was mean to him, even though his mother was standing right there the whole time. I had to be following Mary around to make sure she didn't get hurt, so I couldn't be guarding John as closely. John was playing on a two-seater dinosaur riding toy which he had heretofore happily shared with many kids. I was able to hear that the boy "made" John get off the dinosaur (by commanding him to get off and John doesn't know better but to listen), then kept telling John that he was not allowed to feed the dinosaur wood chips and that the dinosaur was his. I don't know mother politics, so I remain unsure about what I'm supposed to do about verbal meanness that isn't outright name-calling and isn't physical harm. The mother was standing five feet away watching and doing nothing: is that normal? Then after five minutes of this junk, John called to me and asked, please, was he allowed to get on the dinosaur (which nobody was now sitting on)? I said, of course he was, nobody is on it. He said almost in tears, "That boy said it was his and I wasn't allowed to use it any more." And the mother is still standing there, doing nothing. Then the boy said a few more things and it was time for us to leave anyway. I don't know what to do! I don't want to treat my children with kid gloves and make them look like babies out in public, which at some age will embarrass them. But I don't want to leave them defenseless either. All I know is that if my child were being a brat to another child, my response would be swift and serious. So why do these other moms seem to think it's okay?
Maybe I'm being oversensitive. I've been a mama only four years so far and I still feel very distressed when anybody is unkind to my babies. Mama Bear growls loudly.