The delicate politics of when your child gets walloped

I’ll never forget the first time my son was walloped. We were at a ‘mum meet up’ at the local church hall. He was not yet two and running around happily, not a care in the world, safe in the knowledge that he had a blissful, blessed life. Another, larger boy looked him up and down, thought for a moment, before opening his palm wide and pushing it with full force, very slowly, into my son’s face – forcing my son’s head back a good ten inches.

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I saw the expression on my only child’s sweet, innocent face- utter devastation; shock, confusion. In his eyes was a flash of a new realisation – that life is actually pretty shite – and it’s full of bastards!

I watched the child with my seething eyes and scanned the room for the ‘bad mother’… where was the bitch? (slowly takes off earrings and tucks shoes under the chair) IT’S ON SKANK!

I couldn’t identify her … and my son was now howling and screaming so much that all eyes were on me (tag! You’re now the bad mother). So we scurried off.

I told Grandma. She wasn’t best pleased. I tried to explain to her that the police had more pressing matters on their hands and probably wouldn’t be too interested in filling out a report about the incident.

Soon after, at another kids’ group my son was bitten by another child. I saw the whole incident. Thankfully the fact I had put my son in such a chunky heavy-duty knit that morning had saved his left arm. This time I saw the mum. It’s on!

Ah! But what do I do now? What do I say? How does one start a sentence with a complete stranger that segues to “your child tried to draw blood from my child.” Do you start by complimenting her on her shoes… or remarking on the humidity… and then slamming into “I have reason to believe your spawn is feral.”

I ended up shuffling up and apologising, stuttering and falling over my words like Hugh Grant trying to declare his love. I tried to tell her what had happened in the most polite / British way possible as a look of mortification crawled over her exhausted face. She apologised profusely as I backed away saying it was no problem – of course, no problem, and I felt worse for bringing it up.

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If you look up the word “Awkward” in the dictionary I think you’ll find a small picture of one parent trying to tell another parent that their child walloped theirs.

The thing is, my son grew up over the next few months and started getting a bit more boisterous, a bit more ‘playful’, a bit more heavy handed. He clomps about the play groups like a pissed up platypus knocking into the smaller children like they’re wobbly pins at a bowling alley. And slowly you realise, with horror, that one day your child will be the one who wallops another child. And it serves you right for being so judgemental.

My time at kids’ groups is sectioned into: 80% terrified my son will clobber another kid, 10% terrified my son will be pummelled by another kid and 10% being thankful another child is doing the clouting for today. I am also waiting for a not so understanding parent to launch themselves through the air at me like someone out of The Matrix.

I am much less judge-y than I used to be – I know it is only a matter of time before it’s my child doing the biting / head butting / kicking / walloping. I also know it’s not bad parenting. While my mum still scowls “but where has that girl learnt to wallop? mmm…” I know it’s not as simple as that – I know it’s the child experimenting, testing, playing, expressing.

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I know this because since turning two – my own, gorgeous, innocent, wide eyed angel has head butted and bitten me. Me! As though my three day labour means NOTHING to him! He has bitten the hand that literally feeds him. And he certainly hasn’t learnt that from home – unless he can read mummy’s mind when Daddy doesn’t fill the dishwasher (not a euphemism).

And then there is the delicate politics of when you see someone else’s child get walloped. Do you intervene? Is it your place? Where is the rule book?

This morning at a huge soft play centre I witnessed a very small child head butt a larger girl around seven times. We will call the head butter child B for Butt-er. The taller child was sobbing and trying to get away. We will call her child C for Cry. So B is head butting and C is crying. I assume they must be siblings (ah…sibling love – what joys I have to come). I look around the room to see if I can identify the mum of the pair just to let her know child C is very upset.

I see a room of mums enjoying their coffees, reading the papers, chatting to friends. I have no clue which mother owns these two gladiators. I look back at the children. Child C is now lying on the floor screaming as child B punches her. Oh dear. It’s escalated. Time to do something. Yes – it will be awkward but politics means sometimes doing the hard things, putting your head above the parapet, intervening in wars.

So I approach a large table of mums and ask if they have little girls – say what I have seen and they set about going into the soft play to retreive children. Job done. You can feel very pleased with yourself now Steph.

To my horror I realise soon after that the girls were not sisters. They were strangers. And the table I have been at is child B’s mother. The head butter. I see child C in hysterics with her mother at the other end of the room trying to explain to her mum what had happened. The mum then walks up and down the room, clearly upset, looking for the offender and mum.

Lord! What do I do now?! Bloody Hell.

After much deliberation I slither up to the mum of the very upset pummelled girl. My exact words:

“Er….excuse me…I don’t really know how to do this. I haven’t done this before (I meant parenting really). But if it was my son, I would want to know.” I then kindly explain that another child had been head butting her child (and thumping) and that I would have intervened – but they were on the second level and I can’t clamber up the slide at seven months pregnant…(or usually).

The mother was very thankful that I told her what had happened – before asking “WHO IS THE MOTHER?”

Oh….Shit. Gulp. “I think, I mean, I think, I mean it could have been…but I’m not sure – it might have been her?” I subtly nod my head towards the mother in the opposite corner of the ring, I mean ‘room’.

“Thanks” she says, as she strides her way towards her, walloped child in her arms. Me left there looking shifty – like a proper grass! Like the kid in class who just told teacher! Like a drunk, meddling instigator of a fight in a dodgy pub. I have thrown the grenade and can now only sit there like a lemon. ll0ym

I see the women exchange words and the child is made to apologise. I squirm in the corner trying to look at the menu of “chip butties” intently as the room stare at me – Little Miss Tattletale.

Moments later the younger child, head butter – well she decides she wants another go and does the exact same to child C.

The mum sees it now.

She exclaims something pretty rude into the air.

It’s earrings off.

Shoes off.

Ding Ding Ding.

Round two!

Grandma and I make a swift exit as we see the mother storming up to the parent – it’s on!!

Abort…abort… I think it might be nap time.

 

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12 thoughts on “The delicate politics of when your child gets walloped

  1. What a great post – it struck lots of chords with me! I used to be super judgemental – I probably still am a bit – I enjoy a good judge but I realise that all children have the potential to be feral creatures at one time or another. I’m much more concerned that my 3.5 year old will beat up another child than be hit herself. I don’t know where it has come from but she is a feisty little creature, neither myself nor my husband and certainly not her big sister have ever laid a finger on her but she still thinks she can push her way out of any situation! I do try to keep and eye on her and make her apologise if I catch her in the act. I think it is rarely bad parenting that leads children to hit. On the other hand I get cross when I see big kids monopolising the dedicated younger kids areas of soft play – this isn’t fair and can lead to little ones being inadvertently mown down. I would be mortified if another parent had to come and tell me my child had been hitting another but I would definitely take steps to reprimand my child and make them understand that what they had done was wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes I definitely spend much more time terrified he will hurt another child and being labeled the bad mother. I am so scared of another mum not being so understanding. I used to be really judgemental …. Now… Not so much. It’s dangerous – because one day it’s bound to be us in the firing line. I’d be horrified if someone was thinking it was because I was a bad mum. It’s horrible.

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  2. Love the humour in this!Complete and utter parenting cop out for me I’m afraid,I stopped going to these places as I just can’t stand the confrontation!My little boy is so timid he was always the one to get walloped and I’d find myself lying in bed at night thinking “should have said this” or “should have done that”!Doesn’t appear to have suffered for it although maybe he’ll tell me when he’s a teen how awful a Mum I am 😉 x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! It’s so difficult as there’s no guide book for it (maybe there is! But I’ve not seen one) my son used to be the most timid little creature you’d ever meet…. I used to worry about him so much in the “real world” but he seems much more boisterous now and I’m much more worried HE will do the whacking. I don’t know which is worse. I think if the parents is understanding it’s not a problem – but I live in fear of being confronted by a furious parent…. It’s a minefield.

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  3. You’ve just had me in hysterics reading this! I used to dread mine dragging me to soft play places, the children there always seem to go completely feral at the first sight of a ball pool ball!
    Stevie x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is hilarious! I never know the right time to intervene… Ever been in that situation where your child is under attack and mother of the attacker is all ‘aw, he’s a bit
    rough, doesn’t realise his strength when he’s playing’? I tend to snatch Little P away and apologise for her being a ‘wimp’ xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is brilliant and has really made me giggle (especially the drunken platypus line).
    We were once at soft play and one mum was completely on the war path after a hitting incident. I was egging her on (silently, of course, from behind my overpriced latte!) xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was egging the woman on too (inside) I don’t think I’d ever have the guts to have a go. I’d end up feeling worse – but as soon as I started telling her I could tell she was feisty! She was blummin furious. Glad I wasn’t on the receiving end…. One day it’ll be me! I just know it.

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  6. I used to think keep calm, before you know it it will be my child assulting other children. He’s six now, he seems to be casually bullied by most of the boys in his school. He’s popular, funny, he’s not timid, got a third eye and the ginger bullying hasn’t started yet. I know other children suffer worse than him. But because he just ignores the first child pushing him, the next child pushes him harder. All he wants to do is play, he knows hitting back or telling to the teachers just uses up presious play time.
    I don’t judge the parents of children who assaults my child or steals his things or threatens him, I judge the parents who watch their child doing these things and do nothing or next to nothing.

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  7. When my first child was about 11 months he started raising his hand and hitting children in the head. Not great but at 11 months what can you do? Be told that your child isn’t very nice by another mother at soft play. My comeback of he’s only 11 months and doesn’t mean any harm was ignored and I was given the “you’re scum” look so I left soft play. He did it again a few weeks later at library Singalong to a bigger boy who told his mum. The mother said, just keep away from him, he’s not nice. I had told him to stop myself anyway but at this point picked him up and left the library crying and asking him (now 12 months old) why he was acting like this (!) About a year later went back to the library for some books and saw same boy (now maybe 2 or 3 years old) slap his mother right across the face. Hard. She ignored him. I walked smugly by. When a small child hit my second son (9 months old) at softplay I told the mother don’t worry about it, they all do it. Easy as that. Mothers are other mothers worse enemies!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly!! It’s easy to judge when your own child is little / angelic like – but they soon change! And then you realise I SHOULDNT have ever judged! It’s probably a lesson we will all learn in our parenting journeys.

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