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Claiming Our Neighborhoods - Page 6

post #101 of 121
Thread Starter 
BunnySlippers,

I think she has a lot of good qualities, she just doesn't know where to draw the line. As in, children really can't control the behavior of their parents so she shouldn't have kept approaching certain kids and harping at them about the choices their parents were making.

And she created an incident that resulted in an incident, when she followed those children home, talking to them when they were clearly trying to ignore her, and, after they went in, stood out in their yard yelling at them about how they were gonna lose their dog in two days.

They still have their dog, by the way.

Of course, who am I to judge her for mishandling stuff when I'm clearly not the most savvy person in the world myself. I just don't go after people yelling at them, and I sure don't go after kids about their parents' problems.

I think she really made things rough for herself when she initiated a discussion, about this other family and their dog, with the kids in the bully-group. One of the kids in the group called her a n_____ (she is an elderly white woman, and the kids were black), and she went into this long diatribe in which she tried to educate these black children about the history of the word and how it really has nothing to do with race.

It ended up with one of the children accusing the woman of calling her a n_____, and it got pretty ugly (though not physically-violent) from there. We left while things were still "going down." And we don't see this lady there with her granddaughter anymore.
post #102 of 121
OP, I'm sorry things turned out like this. I know you had the best of intentions, and I wish you had succeeded. But still, I am glad you have decided to avoid that park for the moment. It must have been extremely stressful on your DD to face that kind of abuse, and I think it is better for her to avoid it.
post #103 of 121
Thread Starter 
Thanks choli! I still feel like we're succeeding because we're learning and we're growing together, building friendships and living life. It seems likely that before our neighborhood can really win, it will take enough neighbors really caring about making our streets and playgrounds a safe place for children.

So we'll keep making connections and working for change, but of course it's important to know when it's time to just walk away from a person or situation.
post #104 of 121
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jane91 View Post
I know a guy whose parents made a political/social point about living in a certain part of Detroit.

So as a child, he got to deal with numerous house break-ins and violence in his neighborhood, up to and including being caught in the cross-fire during a shooting incident while he walked to school.

Needless to say, he has some issues with his parents and their choices.
This is a very good point. At the moment, dd1 is having issues with me because she is very upset about my deciding that we need to take a long break from her favorite playground.

However, down the line, she would probably end up having more issues once she'd learned how different these dynamics are from the normal childhood dynamics she could have experienced at different playgrounds with different kinds of children.

Plus, whether she or her sister would have ended up having issues over this or not, it's clearly not right to expose them to this crap.
post #105 of 121
Thread Starter 
Oh, and I don't want to give the impression that my children haven't experienced better kid-dynamics! They have, both at this playground in previous times and in other places!

Dd1 is just pretty new to the whole tween or preteen experience. So this is kind of her first time dealing with adolescent group dynamics...and I sure don't want this to look like the normal expression of that!
post #106 of 121
Thread Starter 
Dd1 came in to talk to me as I was waking up this morning. She said she doesn't think it's fair that she can't go to her favorite playground any more, just because this other girl has mental problems (mind you, I honestly don't know if this other child has any sort of psychiatric diagnosis; I just know that someone who's so intent on trying to harm someone who's never done any harm to her is not right in the head...

And here I should add that I'm in no way assuming that people with psychiatric disorders are necessarily violent. My own dad was manic-depressive and was not a violent person).

Of course, it's not "just" that this other girl has problems; this is part of a whole situation that I'd honestly thought was getting better until the incident the other night. The other bullies seemed like the more "normal" bullies described in the article, who were just doing what they did because they got a reaction.

"Those" bullies seemed to have pretty much lost interest in us. They had spent a little time sitting really close to me, but when I didn't react to that it stopped. Whereas it's almost like the lack of a reaction on our part has triggered some sort of weird psychotic response in this girl. I think she's more into causing pain than she is into getting a reaction.

Of course, it's really not "fair" that we live in a community where this kind of person is able to hurt people -- but, then, I probably dropped the ball when I failed to go straight to the phone and call the police about this clearly threatening behavior.

On Friday afternoon, we'll be going to see one of dd's friends who (on the weekends) lives across the street from the playground to plan an overnight for this weekend (I had failed to get their phone #), so dd is wondering, if the bullies aren't at the playground when we go, if we can stay and play for a bit, and just leave if any of them arrive.

I've told her that it seems unlikely that the bullies wouldn't be there by the time we got there -- but, in the event that they aren't, we could stay and play for a bit but both girls would need to be ready to leave at a moment's notice. If we did have to suddenly leave I could take them to our other neighborhood playground.

We've been rather busy this week and haven't explored other playground options -- but I've mentioned to dd1 that our other neighborhood park, though it doesn't have any swings, does have a tennis court. So maybe we can get some rackets and balls and play some tennis together. It also has a nice path for her to ride her bike on.

I'm not really sure why so many parks of late, when they redo their playground equipment, are doing away with the swingsets? So far the nearest other place that I know of with a swingset is about 30 minutes away, so we can go there sometimes but not every day or anything. We do have tons of other playgrounds in this community, they just now seem to be swingset-free.

We probably just need to look harder. Or figure out a way to do the tire-swing thing with one of our trees.
post #107 of 121
Thread Starter 
Dd and I just finished up reading those ten articles today, and the article titled "Lose Your Fear" really got us thinking and talking.

When I read the author's assertion that if we're scared of how someone can hurt us physically, this will make the other person feel more powerful, my initial thought was that this is the sort of message we'll be sending if we decide to play at the playground when the bullies aren't there and then leave when we see them coming.

Here I hasten to add that this did not, for one second, make me consider endangering my girls just so that the bullies won't feel they've "won." Actually, if we let what they might think about us determine our actions, then we really would be giving them the power, which the author addresses later in this same article. Because our other basic fear is of what people might think of us, and worrying about that also gives the other person power.

But I really had a lightbulb moment when I realized that there have already been two occasions when I've decided to leave because of of something the bullies were doing. And on both these occasions, rather than feeling empowered by the realization that they'd "made" us leave, they were angry and upset.

The first time was when I got disgusted by the two girls' spitting, and my girls and I decided to go cool off in the fountains. Whereas I'd kind of expected them to gloatingly laugh at us as we headed to our van, they were angrily yelling and their faces were clearly upset. They did not seem to feel the least bit empowered by the fact that we'd left them behind for another fun place.

The second time was the other night when I got concerned by the one girl's determined intent to harm my child. Again, our leaving did not seem to make her feel like she'd got control. She followed me in a rage, stopping some feet away from our van as I buckled in my youngest, and she was yelling stuff like, "I know you want to call me a n_____!" (which of course I've never wanted to do and never done).

So, who knows, if we do sometimes play there and then leave the moment the bullies arrive, maybe they'll feel like they're in control -- but maybe not?

I'm not saying that what they might or might not think should determine our actions. My decisions need to be based on what's best for my own children. It is just very interesting to me to realize that these particular bullies may not necessarily respond by feeling empowered if their presence "makes" us leave the playground.

Dd and I discussed this as we were reading, and she agreed that our leaving those two times clearly did not make the bullies feel like they had power over us. I'm glad she sees this now, because at first she was bugged by the idea of us letting them "win."

Now we're thinking that any time we go there, we should agree together on a plan of where we'll go next should our playtime get cut short by the bullies' arrival.

Of course, as an experienced mom I also know it's a lot easier to transition if I'm saying something like, "Okay, girls, let's go play tennis now" or "Let's go to the bicycle park now" or "Let's go hike the nature trails now" ... and not just saying, "Come ON, we have to go NOW!"

And sometimes one or two of our dds' friends may want to come along, and if it's okay with their parents, we certainly have the room.

And, incidentally, my dd's may very well fall so much in love with some of these alternate places that they'll quit feeling such a yen for their current favorite, and get a new favorite. We'll see.
post #108 of 121
They did hurt your dd physically, and threatened further harm.

I don't understand this, and I think that you are way too invested in itellectualizing this experience. It doesn't matter what the articles say. Your dd was assaulted at the playground. These kids were intent on harming her. I don't blame your dd for persisting in wanting to to play at a spot she loves-when you've been well taken care of, and relatively sheltered it can be hard to really "get" that actual harm can come to you. My own kids were like this.

But, it's your job as a mom to take responsibility for making the tough decisions, such as, I will not alllow my children to be in a place where harm can come to them. Maybe your kids won't like it, and maybe it's not child-led, but at a certain point parents need to make some of the tough calls.

Kids need to know that their bodies and their well being are sacred. They can be immensely disturbed by the thought of harm coming to their parents. Safety is paramount in a young childs life. Your kids would seem to have an advantge in life that the playground bullies don't have, and you are not using it. The bullies don't seem to have a hands on, present, guiding force in their lives helping them make right, and safe decisions. Your kids do-it's you, and yet you continually guide them back to a place of danger for them, and you.

I think all this waffling is harmful-we will go back, we won't go back, we'll go back under these circumstances... You are engaging in behavior that keeps this drama alive. Can you not find some other positive activity to engage in with your kids? Just because they "want" something doesn't mean it's safe or right. Sorry for the book, but it's distressing to think that you would allow your kids to return. On some level this feels like a bad relationship that you are trying to fix, and I really wouldn't want to model that for young girls.
post #109 of 121
Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post
They did hurt your dd physically, and threatened further harm.

I don't understand this, and I think that you are way too invested in itellectualizing this experience. It doesn't matter what the articles say. Your dd was assaulted at the playground. These kids were intent on harming her. I don't blame your dd for persisting in wanting to to play at a spot she loves-when you've been well taken care of, and relatively sheltered it can be hard to really "get" that actual harm can come to you. My own kids were like this.

But, it's your job as a mom to take responsibility for making the tough decisions, such as, I will not alllow my children to be in a place where harm can come to them. Maybe your kids won't like it, and maybe it's not child-led, but at a certain point parents need to make some of the tough calls.

Kids need to know that their bodies and their well being are sacred. They can be immensely disturbed by the thought of harm coming to their parents. Safety is paramount in a young childs life. Your kids would seem to have an advantge in life that the playground bullies don't have, and you are not using it. The bullies don't seem to have a hands on, present, guiding force in their lives helping them make right, and safe decisions. Your kids do-it's you, and yet you continually guide them back to a place of danger for them, and you.

I think all this waffling is harmful-we will go back, we won't go back, we'll go back under these circumstances... You are engaging in behavior that keeps this drama alive. Can you not find some other positive activity to engage in with your kids? Just because they "want" something doesn't mean it's safe or right. Sorry for the book, but it's distressing to think that you would allow your kids to return. On some level this feels like a bad relationship that you are trying to fix, and I really wouldn't want to model that for young girls.


It just seems like you're way overthinking this and have been from the beginning. It's actually very simple. You need to make a firm decision not to go back to that playground, and then you need to stick to it without waffling or reconsidering. I think part of the problem in this situation is that you've been focused on thinking about it on a high level (what is the moral thing to do, what psychological forces are at work here, how your actions accord with your spiritual values) while the bullies are functioning on very direct physical and emotional levels ("this racist lady is being mean to us, how can we get back at her"--which of course is just how they see it, I don't think for a minute that their perception has much to do with reality).

I still think you really need to take a good long break from this playground. Even if you go there when the bullies are not there, there's a good chance that they'll show up and then you'll need to deal with that in some way. Just stay away! You're making it way more complicated than it is or needs to be.
post #110 of 121
I've been lurking on this thread for a long time. We live in an urban area, now a nicer neighborhood than when DS was born, but there are still occasional issues with unattended other children.

I just want to say I agree 100% with what karne said.

Personally, I will not allow my child to be abused--verbally and certainly not physically. I kind of operate in life from the assumption that I cannot change other people's behavior. So that does involve leaving situations where I do not like the behavior going on.

There are other playgrounds for you to go to.

During some periods, we would talk to our closest playground and keep walking if certain people were there.

My #1 job is to protect my child. Not to teach them to protect themselves--that might be #2 or farther down the list. My job is to protect them at all costs. I would not allow them to be in the kind of situations you have been describing and it actually pains me that you have allowed your children to be subjected to this abuse. What you're teaching them is not "peace" or "taking back your neighborhood"--you're teaching them that it okay for them to be abused and they need to put up with it.

Gosh, I hope that doesn't sound harsh because you really do sound like an awesome person. I know I'm not there and I'm sure you are doing your best. This is just what is looks like from my vantage point.
post #111 of 121
I am wondering if your DD has an interest or an investment in the drama? The way she is so focused on this particular location despite all the scariness of what's gone on the past has me surprised and wondering.

It reads a bit like a girl with a who likes dating "bad boys" -- all the excitement outweighs the risks.

I also found it interesting that your DD went back immediately to the slides after the other girl freaked out about her being on them. While the girl certainly had no right to keep your DD off the slides, your DD's action seemed to "ramp up" the agitation/threat level. It seemed an inherently bad choice -- so either she was being naive or perhaps there was some interest in upsetting the other girl further?
post #112 of 121
mammal_mama i admire you for the courage you show out here. for continuing to figure out a way out of this and try and hang there. i love how you are reading up as a family and trying to figure out how far you can go with this.

what a huge learning lesson for your children. esp. since you say most of your time at the park is NOT spent all the time dealing with the kids.

i have always found there is something deeply sad in the bully's life - whatever that may be. and so a part of me always has deep compassion for them. after watching bridge to terabithia my dd has that same attitude too. however you are aware that it doesnt mean they get carte blanche to do anything they like.

i think it makes a huge difference when we approach someone with love and true compassion in our hearts rather than arrogance or fear or anger. i feel we 'talk' more with our body language rather than our words. my dd has experienced this and while her goal is not to turn the bullies in her life into friends, but because she has sympathy for them and knows how to handle bullies (her school is v. v. proactive where this is concerned) dd has turned all her bullies into friends or at least acquaintances. however the bullies were not as bad as your situation.

i am sure this is a family decision you have made and i see your children are willing to deal with a maybe 10% 'unpleasantness' to have 90% fun that they DO have at the park.

i do believe your whole family is getting a HUGE life lesson. and i will give you the benefit of the doubt that if it ever crosses your personal boundary line of safety you will take action. you HAVE SAID 'that at any moment that I don't feel it's benefitting my children, we should bail.' i am sure if your kids were crying they didnt want to go to the park and you forced them to go it would be a different story, but that's not the story here. its the absolute opposite. your kids WANT to go. which shows that the park experience has not been spoiled by the bullies for your kids.

i know when you as a parent stand up it is a HUGE life lesson for our children. while i have never really had to deal with anything like what's happening to you - in my own way i deal with a 'bully' all the time. my exh and its huge to my dd when i dont react and let it go (she has brought it up that she was shocked that i didnt react and i explained why) and when i DO react to keep the boundaries. however i have deep compassion for him because i know where the 'bullying' comes from.

heck i just admire you for coming here and continue to post and open yourself to more variety of feed backs. its not happening here but on many threads many MDC mamas here have behaved just like those bully kids and ultimately the thread was pulled
post #113 of 121
Quote:
Originally Posted by meemee View Post
i do believe your whole family is getting a HUGE life lesson.
A difficult one, at that. It's sad that a few kids can make things so difficult for others.

I don't think I have any bullies on my street but we do have kids who just ignore my son. Sadly, the parents aren't any better.
post #114 of 121
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaughterOfKali View Post
A difficult one, at that. It's sad that a few kids can make things so difficult for others.

I don't think I have any bullies on my street but we do have kids who just ignore my son. Sadly, the parents aren't any better.
i agree. but i notice those are the ones learnt the best. how sad is that.

i am so sad that you have ignorers on your street mama. that must be soo hard. i know that would devastate my child more than bullies would.
post #115 of 121
What karne said.

I grew up in an urban environment, it was always just a given that there were certain places we couldn't go because rough characters hung out there or whatever. This gave me no lasting damage or hang-ups. In fact, knowing who and what to avoid is one of the essential skills of living in the city. Just going anywhere on the theory that you "should" be able to is just unwise.
post #116 of 121
I've been meaning to post here as well. Everytime I read the updates, all I think is that "the only thing you can count on is change"--perhaps this is not the time to reclaim this playground. But maybe in six months the dynamic will have changed, one of the more difficult kids will have moved away, the police will be monitoring...change will happen, but it doesn't have to be created by you and your kids right now.
post #117 of 121
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Qestia View Post
During some periods, we would talk to our closest playground and keep walking if certain people were there.
This is essentially what we are planning to do -- only in our case, much as I like to walk, for the meantime we'll be driving, not just because of the bullies but because of the high likelihood that at some point we'll need to move on to someplace else.

Quote:
What you're teaching them is not "peace" or "taking back your neighborhood"--you're teaching them that it okay for them to be abused and they need to put up with it.
Honestly, I don't see how agreeing beforehand on an alternate place that we'll go to, if and when the bullies show up, is teaching my girls that they need to "put up with" anything?

My one concern is that my girls generally like a little transition time, so we'll be talking ahead of time about how this is the one place where they will need to be prepared to leave suddenly if need be...and one big part of making the alternate plan ahead of time is that they'll know they have this other fun thing to look forward to if we have to leave suddenly.

I want to add here that I don't see the playground itself as a bad place or as the problem -- I see the bullying as the problem. The bullying only happens when the bullies are there. To me, enjoying the place but just moving on the moment they show up is actually empowering.

And, as I've already said, it's actually okay if our "bailing" makes them think they've got power over us -- I'll just admit that it's been rather intellectually interesting to me see that, thus far, our "bailing" seems to really upset them and not to make them feel empowered. I don't see how my interest is a bad thing, so long as I'm not endangering my children to do "studies" or anything.

Meemee, thank you for noticing what I've previously said -- that most of our time at this playground is fun, fun, fun. The bullies have actually played a very small part in our experience there -- they've just played a large part in this thread since seeking advice about the bullying is the subject of this thread, not "how to have fun" since my girls are pretty good at that already.

Karne, I realize you see it as "waffling" that I would even consider returning to this playground -- but, as I've already said, the playground is great, and my children's friends there are great -- it's just the bullying behavior that is not great. I am definitely not waffling in my decision to remove my family if and when the bullies arrive. I realize that's what I should have started doing a few weeks ago.

We have lived in this neighborhood for years, and were enjoying this playground long before this particular dynamic entered in. I imagine we'll still be enjoying it long after this dynamic has been totally busted, whether by families moving or people growing up or what-have-you.

Of course, it's possible that this dynamic previously existed and we weren't aware, since it wasn't directed at us when my girls were younger. Kind of like the parents who are now bringing their littles and seem pretty absorbed with them and unaware of whatever the "tweens" and teens are up to.
post #118 of 121
One thing you haven't really addressed in all these posts but seems to be an underlying current in what the bullies are saying is that is seems like there is a race/culture issue here. I have been following this thread and thinking a lot and it seems like the bullies are always bringing up race. It doesn't seem to be your issue but since the bullies bring it up time and time again maybe what is going on has less to do with your girls and more a racial perception and there might be little you can do about it.
post #119 of 121
Thread Starter 
DaughterOfKali, we've sometimes had the frustration of "ignorers," too. I think it's actually been harder for me than for dd1, because it's so painful for me to watch her trying and trying to get the attention of some friend who she had previously played with but who is now ignoring her.

I'm trying not to get overly-involved with how my dd deals with stuff like this, but it's hard because of my being right there and seeing so much of it.

I'll admit that I actually have been guilty of taking dd aside and telling her stuff like, "She is ignoring you and, the harder you try to get her attention, the more she's going to ignore you, because I think this child likes the feeling that, by ignoring, she can get other kids to pursue her. It would be better if you move on and find something else you enjoy. Then maybe she'll realize that it would be really fun to play with you."

But...I remember my own mom and grandma telling me stuff like this, so I realize it's hard when you're a kid and you're not into "understanding" all the power-dynamics that are going on -- you just want to have fun playing with your friend. And of course there's no real guarantee that ignoring the ignorer is going to make her decide she wants to play...

Jane91, my dd has made more friends at this location than any other. BUT I think you may have a point about the drama being really interesting to her. It has sometimes given me a double-take, to see the way my dd has just boldly gone wherever she's wanted to go on this playground, without regard for where these bullies are sometimes clustered.

Dd1 has actually been bold like this all her life. I still remember when she was about eighteen months old and we were at the laundromat. She was just walking around and around as she liked to do, when dh and I saw a bigger girl (about age three maybe) step right into dd's path and glare at her in a rather threatening way.

Dd just stepped forward and got right in this girl's face and stared back at her -- only I think dd was smiling, not glaring like the other girl. The big girl immediately stepped aside and let dd pass. So I guess that dd has early on got the idea that it's okay to just "go ahead" with whatever you want to do regardless of what bully might be trying to stop you.

I do think it's a good idea for her to learn more about keeping herself safe -- and, actually, when she goes out riding her bike around our block, she IS very aware of other people and often turns around and rides back home rather than going right past someone she perceives as "creepy." So she's certainly not just oblivious to all kinds of danger, it's just new to her to realize that some other kids near her own age might be dangerous.

When the 11 yo told us about how the teen boy had sexually harrassed her, it really had an impact on my dd, who had been aware that there were such things as molestation and even rape -- but simply hadn't thought of kids as ever being the perpetrators.
post #120 of 121
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by shnitzel View Post
One thing you haven't really addressed in all these posts but seems to be an underlying current in what the bullies are saying is that is seems like there is a race/culture issue here. I have been following this thread and thinking a lot and it seems like the bullies are always bringing up race. It doesn't seem to be your issue but since the bullies bring it up time and time again maybe what is going on has less to do with your girls and more a racial perception and there might be little you can do about it.
Yes, I realize that at least one of the bullies does seem to be very, very focused on race. When my dd told me about that girl's comment to her, at the fountains, that they had picked on her because her "mom was being a racist" -- I figured that this was one of many instances where it was definitely good to abide by the advice the article gave about dealing with rumors.

Basically, to not make any attempt to defend myself since that would really just suck me into an endless cycle of defense and denial. I was really glad that my dd just walked away from the girl when she said this, came and told me, and didn't try to discuss the issue or to defend me with this girl.

I mean, if this girl thinks I'd be "cool" with her behavior if she were white, then her mode of reasoning is awfully, awfully not smart, and I'm not sure if there's any cure for that degree of not-smartness.

Also, we are friendly with people of all ethnicities, so I think anyone with any sense who hears this rumor will see it for the nonsense it really is. The "others" will just see it how they see it, and I think you're right that there's nothing we can really do to help these people to see things clearly.
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