When does it become bullying?

Monday, 14 May 2012

Hunter & Scarlett
18 April 2012

I am one of those sad people who really want to be liked. Or at least not loathed. I'm not proud of it, not by any means, but I go out of my way to please people and avoid conflict. It runs in the family—my grandmother finally decided she didn't give a damn after her 69th birthday.

I am also a mother. A fierce, protective (probably over-protective) mom who wants to give her children every advantage and joy in life. I made a vow when I carried them that they would never know pain or sorrow if I could help it. And that’s why I’m conflicted right now.

I spent most of Sunday trying to keep my DH from assaulting the fathers of a couple of kids in our cul-de-sac. He had enough of Hunter being picked on and decided he wanted to take it up with the boys’ dads. Luckily, I was able to keep him in the house for the most part.

The trouble started when my son decided he wanted to play outside with the kids in our cul-de-sac. My son is four, they are six and eight. When it is just my son and the six year old, they get along great. It’s when the older boys (there is another eight year old who wasn’t at home) get involved that things get hairy. Both older boys play a bit rough and my son often comes in complaining of being ‘beaten up’.

Now, I am under no delusions that my child is an angel. Most of his versions of the events are a bit too much to believe. He tells fibs and picks fights with the best of them, but lately some of the things I’ve seen the older boys do to him have pushed me too far.

Not long ago, I was forced into a confrontation and because of it; I am no longer ‘well-liked’ by the mother of one of the older boys.  She took it upon herself to have ‘a talk’ with me about the boys and told me that it was best not to get involved in their squabbles. According to her, getting involved meant the moms would ‘fall out’ and the boys would be friends again by dinner time. It was never made official, but that talk is what caused us to fall out and we haven’t spoken since.

The talk, by the way, came after I told her son to leave mine alone. Hunter spent 10 minutes trying to leave our front yard to play with the youngest boy at his house, but he was prevented from leaving by her son who threatened to run him over with a go cart if he put one foot on the pavement. I watched it all from our front window and held out as long as I could, trying to give Hunter the chance to stand up for himself. Finally, I felt the need to intervene.

That was only one incident. There have been plenty. Her kid has even smart mouthed me! Disrespecting you elders is a cardinal sin in our house—it’s part of the whole American family values thing that I adhere to even though we live in the UK. If I found out Hunter spoke that way to an adult, I assure you he’d never do it again.

The mother maintains these are just harmless little tiffs between the kids.  Really? Is it just me, or should an eight year old be mature enough to understand that he is twice as old as a four year old? I know kids can be cruel, and at young ages, like four or five, they don’t always understand that they are being hateful. Psychology tells us that the age of reason is seven, so up until then the line between right and wrong can be blurred.  But seriously, an eight year old picking on a four year old should know better.

I think it’s bullying. Plain and simple. Now if I could only make my four year old understand that friends don’t treat you that way, because God bless him, he still wants to play with that kid. Even though he comes home every 20 minutes in tears.

Hunter is a sensitive child as it is. Not a wimp (he has no trouble clobbering one of the older boys if provoked), but unfortunately he inherited my need to be liked. The same need that saw me used and abused all the way through school. Hell, I even fall victim to it from time to time now. Of course, I’m not sure it would’ve been better that he inherit his dad’s quick temper and total disregard for how others see him. I need to teach Hunter that he needs to respect himself and put his own feelings above his desire to be liked. I need to teach him to stand up for himself... and I need to be a good role model for him. 

I just need to figure out where to start.


  1. That's a horrible situation to find yourself in. I, too, would think an eight year old would know better than to treat a four year old like that. I hope everything works out for the best.

    On a completely different note, I wanted you to know I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger award. You can get the details on my blog. :)

  2. Thanks for the award. I just did my bit (sad as it may have been).

    And thanks for your support. My son played outside with the boys yesterday and everything was ok. I just can't tell him he can't play out when everyone else is, as much as I'd like to keep him in.I figure next time we have trouble I am going to be the one giving the talk to that mother.


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