When I think of raising world citizens, I think of raising children that are open to all that they see and respect anyone they meet. I think of children as being an extension of their parents and caregivers. Parents that do not appreciate the beauty of the world, the amazing traditions and cultures of others and the wonderful people all around may not teach their children about them either. If they are not exposed to the world (be it at home or in a classroom), how can they learn to live in harmony with it?
With that in mind I truly believe that some of the bullies of the world have just never had the opportunity to learn from the differences around them. Children who are not exposed to other cultures and traditions may see others as different from them. They may not understand the world that anyone else lives in.
So far, in my kids’ young lives, they had yet to encounter the infamous bully. The other day at the park, however, we came across our first bully in the making. We went to play as we usually do when the weather is nice. The park we like has a playground for big kids and another for toddlers. We always go to the toddler side so they don’t have to worry about the big kids. Also, that park is usually empty which is even better for me.
My boys were minding their own business, singing and dancing and just being silly. There is a large raised walkway at the park that kids sometimes use to draw with chalk or parents sit on. This is both boys’ favorite spot because it looks like a raised stage. They love to march back and forth on it and sing songs from “The Music Man”. This time only T was marching when a boy that was definitely older than both of them decided to stand in his way, legs and arms stretched out to make sure T couldn’t get through. Here is how I saw it happen…
“Maybe he just wants to play,” I thought granting him the benefit of the doubt as he stood there with a very determined look.
“Excuse me,” said T (proud mama that he was so polite)
“No!” replied the kid.
M sees what is going on, runs over to them and says, “Please move, we are trying to perform.” (Yep, that’s how we roll.)
He still wouldn’t move. M tried everything from asking nicely to asking him if he wanted to play a game. He told the kid that he could be the gate and they would push a button on the boys belly to see if that would open the door. I found this hysterical myself since we play that at home sometimes. I guess I have to think about how our silly games translate into the real world.
The boy still didn’t move so M sighed and said, “Come on T, let’s just go this way.” They happily went around the boy, but the boy followed!
The boy went back up to Mario and said, “Wanna fight?” At this point I gasped and was ready to pounce. I told myself to wait to see what happened and stay calm (easier said than done).
Mario’s response was classic, “Fight? No way! Only mean people fight and mean people are yucky!” Proud mama moment again, even if calling people yucky is not so good either. I knew he was just stating the obvious, though. Loved it!
The kid then tried to take M’s toy horse away and that is when the (who I assume to be the baby sitter due to her age and lack of attentiveness throughout all of this) finally ran over and took the boy away. She’s lucky she did, or else that kid may have gotten an earful from this mama.
Point of the story is that if that boy had been exposed to more people and more situations, he may have had a little more respect for my boys and maybe even played with them instead of trying to cause a fight with someone so much smaller. He saw easy targets (smaller children) that were different from him (not just physically but because they were singing show tunes) and decided he would teach them a lesson. Something I’m sure he didn’t learn on his own. This is a child imitating something that he has seen before. I only hope that his parents or caregivers become more open and respectful so that this child and any other kid can do the same.
I am proud that my kids weren’t intimidated and stood their ground. I’m also proud that their first response wasn’t that the kid was threatening but maybe wanted to play. I am proud that they acted with respect, didn’t let them affect them and went on playing as if nothing had happened when it was over. Yes, I am a proud mama. I hope I can teach them to keep the respect and the patience they showed that day for always.