I’m So Sick of Lazy, Spineless Parents and Their Bratty Kids. There. I Said It.

Posted by on May 21, 2013

Do kids have the right to not be touched by other kids if they don’t want to be?

When I frame it like that, I’m pretty sure most people would give a resounding yes. In fact, I think anyone who isn’t some kind of freak would say “Absolutely!”

And yet, when I asked someone to keep the kids in her charge from pushing my kid around, I got the old “Boys will be boys” line.

Really? So, based on that logic, it would be okay if it was a boy or a man touching a girl or woman against her will? How about pinching her? How about kneeing her from behind? How about a good old fashioned shove?

That’s all okay because they’re male and that’s just how boys and men are?

Pfffft…RIGHT.

As those folksy politicians love to say… That dog don’t hunt.

Here’s the backstory…

My son plays in a recreational basketball league. He’s about average size and weight for his age (7). The other boys are similar with minor variations but there are a couple of twins that are notably taller and bigger and I suspect they are either on the late end of six or possibly seven as they are a grade lower than my son. Another huge kid is eight already. How they are all on the same  team, I have no idea.

My son is very mild mannered, easygoing, friendly and kind. He gets along with everyone and makes friends wherever he goes. He is NOT  aggressive, obnoxious or the kind of kid that goes around pushing, pinching or shoving other kids. That’s not to say he won’t engage in some wrestling and sparring with his friends but those are activities where there are  two willing participants.

Every week at basketball practice, I see both of those twins constantly putting their hands on other kids. I don’t get the sense that it’s totally malicious but when you go and pinch someone when they’re running alongside you minding their own business, it’s probably not going to be well-received.

When you take your place in line and intentionally shove the kid in front of you and make them run into the person in front of them, it’s f#$%ing obnoxious and uncalled for.

When you run up behind someone and knee them in the back, you’re crossing the line as far as this mom is concerned.

Never mind that they will block and take balls from kids on their own team during a game. Never mind that if they want a ball at practice they will just take one from someone else.

Those things suck and reek of poor sportsmanship but they’re not  really hurting anyone.

But the other stuff? I watch it happen every week. Once when my son tried to tell the coach one of the twins was pinching him repeatedly during drills, the coach blew it off. I told my son the next time someone puts their hands on him, he should get right in their face and yell at them to knock it off but he’s not a yeller and even when he does speak up, nobody hears him in a loud gym full of bouncing balls.

So…I watched it happen again today and I’d had enough. My son doesn’t cry or complain about it but the fact that everyone blows it off is sending a message that I don’t want him to internalize:

It’s okay for people to cross your personal boundaries, put their hands on you and hurt you and no one is going to do anything about it. You have no choice but to take it.

The coach was late so the twins’ dad was filling in and the coach’s wife was helping keep the kids in their respective lines during drills, something that is totally necessary when you’re dealing with ten 6-7 year olds (and a pair of totally unruly twins).

When I saw Twin A go and shove my kid from behind for no apparent reason and Twin B shove him a moment later, I didn’t even think. I just got up and approached the coach’s wife and said “Can you please tell Twin A and Twin B to stop shoving my son?” Her response was something along the lines of “They all do it. Boys will be boys. What can you do?” and kind of threw her hands up in the air.

And I said something like “I understand boys like to horseplay but my son is constantly being pinched, pushed, kneed and grabbed by both of them and he’s just minding his own business. It’s not horseplay when only one is doing it and I don’t bring him here every week so he can get his ass kicked. I signed him up to play basketball”

And she responded with something like “We can’t control everything that happens, there’s only one coach and ten boys”

And I said “I get that but he tells you what’s going on and nobody ever tells them to stop—so you’ve been made aware of it and still choose to ignore it. As I said, I don’t bring him here for that. You’re in charge so please do something about it” and I walked back to my seat.

And across the gym she says you’re welcome to come over here and help. And I looked her straight in the eye and said “Oh, really?” And she said “Really” and I suspect she thought I would just quietly shut up and go back to reading on my phone but I didn’t.

I got up and joined her and proceeded to herd children and make very pointed eye contact with the twins.

And when nobody else was listening, I whispered to both of them “You touch my kid again and I promise he’ll give you a black eye”. I know it was wrong but I was just so tired of the bullshit and since nobody else seemed to care, it was up to me to give them fair warning.

But guess what? They didn’t touch him again.

The really sad part is that their parents are actually nice but in my judgy observation of the mom’s parenting of their three year old, they have no idea how to set boundaries with their kids; lots of empty threats are made and then mom turns right back to her phone while her little one runs through the middle of the game AGAIN and then throws Matchbox cars at random people. That shit hurts!

She laughs it off, makes another empty threat and back to the phone she goes.

I fear for the future of this country and that’s NOT hyperbole.

 


18 Comments

  • Loyla Ann says:

    Way to go! It’s so annoying when parents don’t control their kids. Last week at a flag football game a kid barked at my son, “Why didn’t you catch ball, (and he all but implied the word Dumbass)? After the game our family discussed how to handle that situation. My son said the comment made him feel like a loser.

    My husband’s advice: Say “I’m new at this game. If you help me then I can get better, but yelling at me isn’t going to work.

    My advice: Don’t take Dad’s advice. That’s lame. It screams, “pick on me”. I thought a better response would be “Why don’t fuck off?” The husband corrected me and took away my parenting card.

    My daughter’s advice: Give the kid a twisted look and and earnestly ask, “I don’t know, why were you born?”

    The husband lecture us on being assertive, not passive or aggressive. “You can’t throw punches in the work world.” I agree. Yet none of our answers were right. What’s the right answer?

    • IzzyMom says:

      I think I like your approach better! Lol at getting your parenting card taken away. Your’e the kind of mom I’d totally have a beer with. Thanks for not wagging your finger me like *some* people :)

  • Apryl says:

    Kudos! You didn’t do anything wrong. Telling those kids your kid could effectively defend himself (and it’s possible) wasn’t a lie or a threat. You warned them and good for you. That mother wasn’t going to do it and she was banking on your being just like her, going back to the phone and letting the freaks run the asylum.

  • becca says:

    First, I wanna preface this with the fact all parents have been frustrated with how other people’s kids interact with our kids. And that when our kids aren’t being treated right, there’s always the chance we’ll react intensely. That’s the result of caring about our kids, and I respect how much you obviously care for your kid.

    Second, you didn’t do anything wrong to ask the Coach’s wife to step in. At the same time, depending on how you said it, “Why don’t you stop those twins from pinching?” is kind of the parenting/coaching equivalent of “Why didn’t you catch the ball?”. It doesn’t help someone address the error after it’s made.

    Also, I think getting in there and providing additional supervision (even if you don’t actually *do* much, except maintain enough eye contact that the kids feel supervised) is a REALLY great response. I just wish you’d done it earlier, before you were so frustrated you felt the need to indirectly threaten the kids with a black eye! While none of us wants our kid to be seen as an easy target, implying that you’d turn a blind eye to flat-out violence by your son is not really a ideally… mature response.

    It’s also important to recognize that twins are, in fact, separate individuals. For example, your response was to ask someone (not even the parent of the kids) to control *both* Twin A and Twin B AFTER an infraction by Twin A. How do you think that looked to Twin B? I have only a younger kidlet (3 years), so I may be overly pessimistic about kids ability to connect consequences to events (because 3 year olds really suck at that unless the consequence *immediately* follows the infraction), but I’m guessing that no matter what he’s done in the past, there’s little chance that Twin B understood that from your perspective they were both being unsportsmanlike bullies. From Twin B’s perspective, I suspect it would have felt like getting punished for Twin A’s behavior (which probably happens a lot with rowdy twins).

    In part because of the way you asked for something that might be seen as unfair, and in part because you asked for someone to punish a behavior they didn’t even observe, and in part because I’m sure the non-verbals of the situation were pretty high-emotion, I’m not surprised the Coach’s wife didn’t do as you asked.

    A better way of handling it might be to ask the parents if you engage their three year old, because it seems like their twins could use a little extra parental instruction on the matter of sportsmanlike behavior. If I was the parent playing with my phone (and I’ve definitely been *that* parent), that would probably do the trick of shaming me into giving my kids more feedback on their behavior.
    Of course, it’s tremendously unfair that any method of dealing effectively with this problem involves you putting in extra work. But then, I consider it unfair that some people have to deal with parenting two rowdy twins, too.

    • IzzyMom says:

      I get your point but I’m not looking for absolution or approval. I’m venting over a situation in which the adults in charge are well aware of the behavior and have made a conscious choice to allow it to continue over and over and it’s an innocent child who pays the price. I have been calm and reasonable even when I was seething inside and it made no difference whatsoever. As for what twin a or b did, they are both guilty and when I spoke to them, each had numerous infractions to answer for. Your child is only three and while I hope he is never in a similar situation where he is being hurt repeatedly by another for no reason, chances are he will be and you might then better understand what it’s like to be in my position.

      • hush says:

        One of the Very Uncomfortable Truths about bullying is that the parents of bullies usually refuse to do anything about their child’s behavior, ever, for whatever reason: some valid, some not – but we don’t know their circumstances. But do those circumstances really matter when you’re worried sick about your kid getting beat up? And when you’re fed up that the adults you’ve made aware of the bullying aren’t doing a damn thing?

        The other Very Uncomfortable Truth about bullying is that often the most effective way to stop it is for the kid to push back at her bully directly, and yes, sometimes violently though it pains me to type that. I stopped my childhood bully cold in her tracks after her third taunt by punching her in the face (I’m a black belt). Nobody ever messed with me at school again. My DH ended up getting into a fight with his longtime high school bully, and he fought back (and probably lost – his eyebrow needed stitches) – but after that the bully left him alone, and the bully was suspended from school but not my DH who started the fight – which tells us the school new and expected the kids to “work it out for themselves.” Hate that phrase.

        Anyway, @IzzyMom, I feel your pain – I get where you’re coming from… even though to be painfully honest the thought of you whispering threats of violence into those childrens’ ears makes me cringe and feel very, very uncomfortable about you. So much so that if you lived in my community, I would avoid you and yours like the plague while at the same time thinking to myself you probably did our community a very important service, but that clearly you have some personal boundary work to do yourself. If you whispered that into the ear of the wrong child in my community, odds are the child’s family would financially and reputationally ruin you. This is not a zero sum game.

        Next time, why don’t you try to teach your kid to stick up for himself instead of taking your own calculated risks to save him. A really helpful book on this very subject is “Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin Dads” by Rosalind Wiseman – full of effective ways to communicate with the other adults in your child’s life.

        • IzzyMom says:

          I agree and acknowledged that my behavior was wrong. I knew it the second the words came out of my mouth. However, I didn’t threaten violence. I merely informed them of what would happen if they touched my son again…what HE would do. If I said I was going to give them a black eye, that would be threatening violence. It was more of a warning than a threat…but wrong nonetheless and I wont quibble any further over semantics.

          But you are right…fighting back works. I know because when I finally found the nerve to face my bully at age 12 and was ready to beat the tar out of her after a whole school year of relentless torment (it got broken up before it started) she never bothered me again and neither did anyone else.

          That said, I don’t regret my actions because they were effective when nobody else would lift a finger (and they had plenty of chances to do so), including their mother, whom I DID speak to about it (I didn’t mention that in my post) and frankly, if the kind of people who choose NOT stop their children from hurting others or those who choose to turn a blind eye when they know about it also choose to avoid me, I’d consider it a blessing.

          As for teaching my kid to stick up for himself, how do you know that I haven’t? That black eye remark wasn’t just rhetoric, you know. While it pained me and his father to do so, we have resorted to encouraging fighting back, even though it’s not in his nature. So while you may avoid me like the plague because you think I’m some crazy woman with violent tendencies, the fact is, I’m just the opposite. I abhor violence and I really don’t want my son to be violent NOR do I want him to be the target of it.

          It’s been my observation that those who haven’t been in my shoes yet don’t quite understand and those who have totally get it. Not sure where you fall in that spectrum but I thank you for your comment and for trying to help.

          • Apryl says:

            I think silently judging and avoiding another parent without addressing an issue with them is probably a lot worse than letting someone’s kid know your kid isn’t going to put up with his bullying anymore.

  • paula says:

    Hoorah for you! Everything you have said is valid and true. My husband has said many times; that when he was a kid and there was a bully, if he was put in his place then his behavior changed. In todays world, we are not allowed to handle violence with violence. We tell our children to use their words and be respectful. In truth, a bully doesn’t really respond well to those actions. And the bullying continues….. I would think any well meaning person would of course hate to respond with any type of violence. Truth is sometimes, it’s the only thing that works. In a perfect world everyone would be respectful and keep their hands to themselves and not call someone a bad name. This is not a perfect world, and when you allow people to continue their behavior then that is what they do. I too, have thought to respond to others children as you did. I have a daughter with a birth anomaly and when another child was mean or cruel, believe you me I was ready to woop up on someone. No it doesn’t make me feel good to say it, but I love my daughter and if not me who else would stand up for her? That is my job. A mom is that and much much more. So good job and I hope your comment struck home. As for the twins’ mom, the world is full of parents like her. God help us!

    • IzzyMom says:

      This is not a perfect world, and when you allow people to continue their behavior then that is what they do.

      The above is so simple and yet so brilliant. You nailed it!

      Thank you so much for your support and not judging :)

  • Mia says:

    Good for you IzzyMom! I’m a teacher. It is VERY frustrating to see kids pushed around by bullies, and the parents of the bullies making endless excuses, and accusations, to cover for their own lack of parenting. I’m sick of it. These parents make dealing with the situations very difficult. They don’t fool anyone at all. You’re not fooled either. Nor are the kids. The problem is the parents ( these types of bullying kids could easily be brought ‘in line’ to have acceptable and respectful behavior, if there was decent support from their parents)Unfortunately, the knee jerk reaction from these parents are to ‘attack’ and derail any attempt to address the problem. Sadly, they are teaching their kids dysfunctional social behavior by their own example. BooHoo to the parents of bullies. Enough. Get on board. Do what’s right for all of the kids!.

  • Late reading this, but I can relate very much to this. For many, many years, my son was teased and then bullied at school by boys who used to be his friends when they were young. At the beginning of this school year, I finally had had it. My son’s ignoring of these boys was not having the desired effect, so I had a conference with the entire 8th grade teaching staff (four of them) and told them that the gloves were off. From that moment on, my son was no longer going to tolerate the abuse, and he was going to be allowed (by me) to retaliate. If the boys continued to shove and poke and tease and push my son, my black belt son was going to defend himself. If the teachers had to punish my son with a suspension, then so be it, but all the bullies were going to have to be punished as well.

    The teachers agreed to turn a blind eye, and from then on, my son quietly but effectively “retaliated.” The rest of the school year, my son no longer came up sad and moody. He was his usual upbeat, confident, and goofy self, and his friends also blossomed. There is something to be said about a child standing up for himself; I just wish I hadn’t “hog-tied” him from doing it for five years.

    I have no doubt that the coming high school years will be much smoother as far as that is concerned; my son is now a 2nd degree black belt in tae kwon do. :)

    • IzzyMom says:

      I loved your story. It gives me hope and I’m giving serious consideration to signing my son up for some kind of martial arts. He’s turning 8 today and has just started summer basketball with a new crop of great kids but having the ability to effectively defend himself will no doubt come in handy at some point so thanks for the idea :)

  • Oh, and as far as discipling one’s own children? My kids have a motto: “My mom never threatens; she promises.”

    :D

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