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Claiming Our Neighborhoods - Page 3

post #41 of 121
OP I haven't read all the responses, but I have a little bit of experience dealing with bullies. I was never bullied as a child, ever. I was a total dork mind you. A HUGE dork. But I always ignored teasing and bullies always knew that I couldn't give a rat's you know what about them. I would either completely ignore teasing, or I would give them a sympathetic look and say "I'm sorry you're having a bad day, I hope you feel better tomorrow."(BTW that line works wonders with difficult adults at the post office or airport) It worked everytime. I later found out that the popular girls in my HS were incredibly intimidated by me and my dorky friends because we seemed above them. I suggest you completely ignore these kids. Simply pretend they don't exist. If they try to engage you in anyway don't react, just go about your business. In a few days they will give up.
post #42 of 121
Looking bored works wonders. It's hard to explain the nuances of this to children, but it works most of the time.
post #43 of 121
Thread Starter 
You know, it's possible that I didn't make the 100% best decision in calling the police. But guess what? The bullies aren't making the 100% best decisions in their own lives either, and they're not fretting about it.

My girls and I are learning a new skill. If artists gave up the first time they dabbed the wrong color in the wrong place at the wrong stage of the painting, they'd never become full artists. I'm no longer content with just surviving -- I want to thrive at living.

I am now fully embracing this as a learning experience, and as long as we are all having fun and feeling like we are benefitting, we'll keep going. This playground/park is six blocks from our house, and there is one other park slightly farther away in the other direction, which doesn't have any swings or any other equipment that my 10yo likes to play on.

If we reach the point where it is no fun going to this playground, then, yeah, why go? Why not drive or take the bus a little farther out? It's certainly an option, and, while I'd love to make our neighborhood a more nourishing place for everyone, my primary responsibility in life is to have fun with my family.

I'm not so sure I agree with the poster who says we've now totally learned how to deal with bullying. I feel like we've just begun -- we haven't even finished the first five articles at the site yet! We're quite eager to put all we're learning into practice, and, as homeschoolers, who knows when we'll ever get another opportunity as rich as this one?

It's funny how I dreaded and hid out from these situations when I was a kid, while my 10yo is just exhilerated and can hardly wait to go back. It must be the difference between being alone as I was, and going through the experience as a family.

Plus, now I get to learn how to go back and deal with a situation that, according to some of you, I handled in a rather silly way. Bullies do dumb stuff all the time and they go back. Why should I hide out because (maybe) I made a mistake?

I agree that at any moment that I don't feel it's benefitting my children, we should bail.

As far as whether these bullies really fit the happy, self-assured profile in the article -- well, it's more fun for me to envision them this way than to see them as kids I should pity. Anyway, I agree with the poster who said I shouldn't try to delve any deeper or try to understand them -- that's their mama's job. My job is to have fun with my kids, and with any other people who want to have fun with us. Period.
post #44 of 121
Thread Starter 
This afternoon was interesting. We were the first ones at the playground; we arrived shortly before kids started coming home from school. Then a couple of the bully-girls arrived; dd1 was swinging and one girl ran over and started swinging on the other swing. The other one sat on the other side of the playground; I was sitting in my usual shady spot on the ground right by the swings.

When dd jumped off, the other girl hollered for her friend to grab the swing for her, but dd got back on it before the girl tuned into what her friend was saying. Then a moment later dd decided she was done swinging and she came to sit with me.

Then the other girl came over and started swinging; then one of the girls started spitting into the air. There was a breeze so I could feel some of the spray. After she did it a couple of times, I just calmly told her it was gross to spit in a public place where it could hit other people. She said, "I don't care!" and continued spitting and her friend started doing it too.

I just turned to dd1 and said, "You know, you were just telling me you were bored, and now these disgusting girls are spitting; I really don't like getting spit on, and it feels hot enough to go to the water park." Dd2 immediately got excited about that idea, and I did say it was possible that they'd shut the water off by now, but if they had we'd find something else fun to do.

Dd2 was all set to go -- but by this point the girls had gotten all up-in-arms about me calling them disgusting. They were cussing up a storm and obviously quite upset (I thought they didn't care?), which amused dd1, so she said she wasn't bored anymore. They were so upset they were forgetting to spit, and just yelling and yelling.

One girl got really angry at dd1 for "mimicking" her. She complained that dd had been silently mouthing back whatever cursewords she was saying. I just told dd that her sister and I really wanted to go check out the waterpark, and that if she wanted to stay a little longer we'd just wait in the van for her.

She decided the waterpark sounded like a good idea; as we walked together to the van, the girls' screaming and cursing escalated; they were still hollering about how I'd called them "disgusting" ... it really amused me that this would upset them so much.

As I reached the van I felt a rather silly, petty urge (they were still screaming at me), and I turned and said something rather corny like, "Bye, nasty, spitty girls! Have a spitty day!" I mean, how dumb could I be? I figured they'd burst out laughing at me for sure -- but it was like I'd triggered the remote control switch to their brains again and they screamed even more.

I looked at their faces and they weren't even smiling or laughing at my idiotic remark. They actually looked like they were about to cry. I'm not sure if they were upset about the things I'd said, or upset that we were leaving. I'd honestly thought that our leaving would make them feel like they were "in control."

My girls were cracking up laughing as we pulled off. Dd2 said, "We won, didn't we, Mommy, because we didn't get upset -- they got upset!" I hadn't realized that she'd been paying such close attention to the bullying articles! We've still only read the first two, so I'm sure after we finish the lot I'll have learned how badly I screwed up by answering back the way I did. Oh well, I'm still pretty early in my training.

Anyhow, the water was turned off at the waterpark, so we decided to have some fun exploring our neighborhood and discovering some alternatives for days when it doesn't seem like a brilliant idea to stay at our main park. We found a cool place I'd forgotten about called Inidan Mound. Dd2 had a blast running up and down the mound while dd1 and I relaxed under a tree reading one of her library books that we had in the car.

Then I decided to check out a place near us called The Concourse. The fountains were still running so the girls had a ball running through them and getting soaked.

Then, as we headed home, we swung back by our neighborhood park so dd1 could give our phone number to a friend who'd been asking for it (we'd left before she got home from school). Some of the other bullies were there (we didn't see the two girls from earlier), but they didn't say anything to dd as far as she could tell; she just ran up and gave her friend the number and ran back.

Another girl (age 11) who we've seen around but hadn't got to know too well came to the car to chat with us. She said the same bullies have picked on her, too, and her uncle has even had to talk to one of the teen boys in that group because one day when she was over there he came up and started pinching her breasts. She said she's really scared to go play there unless she sees us or some other adults.

I gave her our phone number and suggested that we try to make some plans to go at the same time. She seemed really happy about that.
post #45 of 121
So, you "won" by calling a couple of kids mean names so that they got upset and you felt good? You are teaching your girls to out-bully the bullies. I haven't read the articles you mentioned, but you are not going to create a more respectful attitude in your neighborhood by acting in such a disrespectful manner yourself. What's going to happen is that everyone in your neighborhood will know that you're the crazy lady who calls the cops on the kids and calls them names. You will lose any chance you have of gaining the cooperation of adults in creating a better atmosphere. And in the long term, you can't win a power struggle with a bunch of kids. They are going to be willing to escalate and do things that I'm sure you won't be willing to do in return (vandalizing your house or car is what comes to mind).

What I would do at this point is remove yourself from the situation and take your girls somewhere else to play. You've already shown them that they don't have to be intimidated, which is awesome. But continuing to engage with the bullies is not going to do any good. And honestly, I'm trying to be gentle, but I'd be pretty ashamed of myself if I found myself acting in the way you describe. You are not in possession of the high ground here, mama. You need to find a way of responding that preserves your dignity and teaches your girls that you don't respond to mean people by being mean yourself.

ETA: I really am trying to be helpful by being so blunt with you, I promise.
post #46 of 121
Quote:
Originally Posted by bodhitree View Post
So, you "won" by calling a couple of kids mean names so that they got upset and you felt good? You are teaching your girls to out-bully the bullies. I haven't read the articles you mentioned, but you are not going to create a more respectful attitude in your neighborhood by acting in such a disrespectful manner yourself. What's going to happen is that everyone in your neighborhood will know that you're the crazy lady who calls the cops on the kids and calls them names. You will lose any chance you have of gaining the cooperation of adults in creating a better atmosphere. And in the long term, you can't win a power struggle with a bunch of kids. They are going to be willing to escalate and do things that I'm sure you won't be willing to do in return (vandalizing your house or car is what comes to mind).

What I would do at this point is remove yourself from the situation and take your girls somewhere else to play. You've already shown them that they don't have to be intimidated, which is awesome. But continuing to engage with the bullies is not going to do any good. And honestly, I'm trying to be gentle, but I'd be pretty ashamed of myself if I found myself acting in the way you describe. You are not in possession of the high ground here, mama. You need to find a way of responding that preserves your dignity and teaches your girls that you don't respond to mean people by being mean yourself.

ETA: I really am trying to be helpful by being so blunt with you, I promise.
ditto.

If (God forbid) my kids were acting like bullies, I'd certainly want to know about it so I could work on their behaviour. But if an ADULT were stooping to name calling and taunts. Yeah, that wouldn't go over well at all.
post #47 of 121
Well I think it's kind of funny calling them "spitty girls" and telling them to have a "spitty day." Unless these girls were preschool age, then I don't consider what the OP said to be "bullying." Honestly they probably got so upset because she made it into a joke and they were frustrated that they were losing their power over the OP and her children. They wanted to get their power high from making them feel bad and they got upset because they couldn't. The OP's words sounded pretty light-hearted to me. She also still managed to disengage after that point. I think the goals of learning to deal with the bullies is to do so in a way that doesn't escalate the situation and that keeps the victims self-esteem intact, and by that measure I think the OP handled the situation very successfully. I'm really glad that things seem to be improving for you guys mammal_mama.
post #48 of 121
Yeah, I don't see the ops actions as bullying. Those kids have been making here life miserable, and it seems like she used humor to deflect the situation. She used their intentional, disgusting actions (spitting at her) against them. If my kid spit on an adult on purpose and the adult called her a "spitty girl" I would not be in the least bit offended.
post #49 of 121
Another one who thinks the OP did ok. These bulling kids have done enough and have been given chance after chance to cut it out. The OP has no access to their parents and it's about time she stands up to this nonsense.

Oh and the next time someone throws a ball and your DD's head? I'd take the ball. Then I'd tell the offender that I have no problem giving it back to his/her parent.
post #50 of 121
Quote:
Originally Posted by Latte Mama View Post
Another one who thinks the OP did ok. These bulling kids have done enough and have been given chance after chance to cut it out. The OP has no access to their parents and it's about time she stands up to this nonsense.

Oh and the next time someone throws a ball and your DD's head? I'd take the ball. Then I'd tell the offender that I have no problem giving it back to his/her parent.
The problem here is that the bullies are all from the same family. IME, that usually means that the parents behave the same way. I've seen families like this destroy the peace of whole neighborhoods and drive families out. So appealing to the parents is almost certainly not going to make any difference, apart from making the OP a target of the parents as well as the kids.
post #51 of 121
Quote:
Originally Posted by choli View Post
The problem here is that the bullies are all from the same family. IME, that usually means that the parents behave the same way. I've seen families like this destroy the peace of whole neighborhoods and drive families out. So appealing to the parents is almost certainly not going to make any difference, apart from making the OP a target of the parents as well as the kids.
I'm sure you're right about the parents. But I'm really nasty when it comes to anyone hurting my family and there would be a serious issue if someone threw a ball at my kids head on purpose or threw stuff at me, spit on me, etc.

I think a big part of this problem for the OP is that this issue should have been shut down from the very beginning. Because it wasn't, those kids now view her and her kids as prey. It's not hopeless but it will be hard to stop this now.
post #52 of 121
I think you engaged them to the nth. Not only did you start the fire when you asked them to stop spitting and called it disgusting, but you poured gasoline on it when you called them spitty girls. Of course they're going to freak. Preteens, hormones, drama! You're not dealing with adults, you're dealing with young bullies and they are going to try and get a reaction from you, and they did in spades. I'm sure they're running back to their parents telling them about the lady who's called the cops on them, called them disgusting, spitty, and God knows what else. And their parents don't give a fig, in fact, they might encourage them to stand up for themselves against you.

Yes in an ideal world, you should be able to say something cheeky and get a pass with bullies, but this isn't really about your feelings of justice is it? It's about getting them to stop and it seems like you're consistently feeding into it. Whether your DDs are having a great time at the park or not, I think the drama being stirred up is not good for them, nor is it a great example on how to deal with bullies.

Honestly, and gently, I think you need to disengage big time, you're way too involved in this. It's been going on for over a month and I don't think anyone is learning or winning from this scenario. In fact, with the amount of time and energy being poured into these bullies, you're losing, big time.
post #53 of 121
I think the first comment that you made to your DD was fine. It is disgusting to spit at someone, however the last remark was childish and mean. It's great to teach your daughters to stand up for themselves but really that remark just kind of taught them that it's OK to be mean and hurtful to someone else.

I also agree with Joyster that you need to step back. It's a little sad the amount of thought and energy that you give these kids. I think it's time to start visiting the other places you mentioned more.
post #54 of 121
Thread Starter 
I actually thought what I said was pretty dorky and silly, and it surprised me that they didn't fall out laughing at me right then and there. It amazed me to see their faces all contorted with rage -- this was really hilarious to me because I did NOT see my remarks as a clever comeback, but actually as rather idiotic.

Yes, my girls saw their mama behave in a way that was less than perfect. Do I think this will make them go around and start bullying everyone? No, because they are with me practically 24/7, and they know I am normally the sort of person who is seriously distressed if I find that I've hurt or upset a friend or loved one by something I've said or done.

I like letting people go ahead of me in the grocery line if I see they've just got a few items and I've got a whole cart full. It really makes me feel good to be kind and include people who might be feeling left out in some way. At the playground, I will sometimes call my 10yo over and gently point out that one of her friends has been trying to get her attention and seems a little hurt that dd is very absorbed with another friend and seems to be ignoring her.

My girls KNOW I don't find pleasure in seeing others hurt. The only reason this incident was so funny to me was that I honestly hadn't thought the girls would care about my opinions of their "disgustingness" or their "spittiness." I was expecting them to crack up and call us cowards for moving on to the water park -- but I had just decided that I wasn't going to let others control me to the point where I wasn't willing to leave out of fear of being seen as "backing down."

I agree that I really shouldn't get into the habit of engaging them. Ignoring them is usually the best approach. And stepping back and taking occasional breaks from our "Learning to Deal with Bullies 101" course is definitely a good idea. Today we're staying home to catch up on some needed housework.

Dd1 wants to go back tomorrow, and I definitely think it's a good idea to take the van and be prepared to just move on to a funner place if we're not having fun there. It's totally cool if the bullies think they "won" when they hear us saying we're heading to Penguin Park or some other cool spot, and if they call us "bawk bawk chiCHENS," dd1 will likely just laugh and bawk back cause she loves our 15 chickens and thinks chickens are pretty cool.

And here I'm also reminded of Marty McFly in Back to the Future, and how he needed to learn not to care if he was called chicken, or if the bully seemed to "win" in a particular situation.

But I don't plan to totally abandon this spot, especially after the 11yo girl shared about being molested there and being scared and just staying in her house all the time unless she sees us or other families with adults out there. I may not always be "on higher ground," but I am a caring adult, and apparently at least one other child, in addition to my own dd's, feels safer when I am there.
post #55 of 121
Thread Starter 
Also, about my not being "on higher ground" -- I think the desire to always be on higher ground can actually be kind of unhelpful. My mom was one of those who wanted me to "never stoop to their level" (the level of the bullies). I saw her "disappointment" if I ever did manage to give a mean and clever comeback.

Mom was the sort who, like me, enjoyed being polite and gracious. Even if some child was openly rude she preferred to take "the higher ground" and assume they had a bad home situation. She tried to get me to feel sorry for the kids who were mean to me. She really, really expected me to be "above it" all the time and if I "slipped" then it was like I'd "thrown my bonnet over the windmill" or something.

This is why it seems so silly to me now that I wasn't the one hurting people, yet I was supposed to be so darn careful that I was always nice to everyone. I now think it's okay for everyone to mess up sometimes. Sure, it's good to learn that there's a better way and a higher ground, and to know that we have the option of rising above crap when we want to.

But if we get some crap on us, we can just take a shower and move on and resolve to do better next time. I'd honestly rather that my girls learn that it's okay to handle things wrong sometimes, so long as they know they're always free to learn from their mistakes and change course, just as their old mom is constantly doing.
post #56 of 121
Thread Starter 
And of course the bullies are free to learn from their mistakes and move on, too. I sure won't try to stop 'em.
post #57 of 121
I just read all the pages mama and although I think their behaviour is hideous, I just want to remind you, gently, that YOU'RE the ADULT. Bullies as they are they're just kids. What seemed like an idiotic comment to you is of course NOT idiotic to them in the heat of the moment. of COURSe they were not going to tumble down laughing. I mean why are you even caring about what their reactions will be? When they spit on you, you should have just said to YOUR DD "oh, someone spitting on you is disgusting, isn't it DD? Yuck." and then without saying ANYTHING to them you should've just moved from that spot all the while having a very disgusted expression on your face. Everyone here is telling you to disengage but from what I've read it doesn't seem like you've got it yet.

Also, I disagree with the posters who say you should just stop going there. I think you should go but be totally ready to leave if any of the other tactics (bored expression, move from a spot if they're doing something indirectly, etc.) don't work that *particular* day. Find another playground, by all means, and go there more often but don't be scared of going to this one just because it has the bullies. You shouldn't have to change your life plans according to these bullies' schedules. And of course, calling the police for acorn throwing wasn't over the top, IMO.

Lastly, you're doing well but you can do better. Remember always that YOU'RE THE ADULT. you don't have to be gentle with them. If they are imminenetly physically endangering your child, tower up to your full height and dare them to lay a hand on you or your dds. Don't cower. But don't invite their bullying either. Best of luck!
post #58 of 121
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wookie View Post
When they spit on you, you should have just said to YOUR DD "oh, someone spitting on you is disgusting, isn't it DD? Yuck." and then without saying ANYTHING to them you should've just moved from that spot all the while having a very disgusted expression on your face. Everyone here is telling you to disengage but from what I've read it doesn't seem like you've got it yet.
I agree that not engaging at all is really the best tactic. I'll admit that I was so surprised at their reaction to my remark (you're right that I should be oblivious to their reaction or lack of reaction to anything I say or do; their reaction is so unimportant it shouldn't even register with me), that I felt an almost irresistable temptation to keep pushing that newly-discovered remote control button.

According to the bullying article, this is a normal primate reaction to realizing we have the remote control to someone else's brain -- but, still, I did have enough self-control not to go there and I went there anyway. The main difference between the bullies and me is that I normally feel no urge to hurt other people -- I normally feel just awful if someone is hurt by my behavior; this was only funny to me because they were being so totally rude and obnoxious to us.

Also, I feel no urge to seek out and destroy those who are different. So maybe I've inherited a tad bit of that bullying-ape gene, but not quite so much as some others.

Oh, and another big difference is that I'm 46 and they seem to all be under 13 -- but, hey, some of us are late bloomers. Better late than never.

Yes, I can do better. I will keep striving to learn from my mistakes and be a better person. I have a bit of the ape in me but I am also human. I just need to choose to be human 100% of the time.
post #59 of 121
Thread Starter 
And, yeah, I agree that I haven't totally "got it" yet. I haven't learned how to completely disengage. I think this is why as a kid I got picked on so much and I thought "ignoring didn't work," because it seemed like I was always ignoring the bullies and they still just couldn't leave me alone.

I'm realizing it is very hard for me to emotionally disconnect. Even if I tried to ignore the mean kids at school, I couldn't stop the tears from welling up in my eyes. One cool thing is that this park-stuff is not making me feel like crying at all, and my dd's seem to be made of tougher stuff than I ever was because they're not walking around all teary-eyed either.

But my emotions are still getting engaged at times. I admire scottishmommy for her ability to be totally self-assured and detached at all times. That's a great skill. I'm not there yet; maybe I can learn this skill at age 46 or maybe I'll need to just accept myself for who I am and learn to deal with stuff as me.

Now that I feel okay about sometimes taking a break (even if it makes others think they "won"), and okay about sometimes flubbing up and handling stuff wrong, I also feel very free to just see where this learning-path takes me and my girls.
post #60 of 121
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammal_mama View Post
Also, about my not being "on higher ground" -- I think the desire to always be on higher ground can actually be kind of unhelpful. My mom was one of those who wanted me to "never stoop to their level" (the level of the bullies). I saw her "disappointment" if I ever did manage to give a mean and clever comeback.

Mom was the sort who, like me, enjoyed being polite and gracious. Even if some child was openly rude she preferred to take "the higher ground" and assume they had a bad home situation. She tried to get me to feel sorry for the kids who were mean to me. She really, really expected me to be "above it" all the time and if I "slipped" then it was like I'd "thrown my bonnet over the windmill" or something.

This is why it seems so silly to me now that I wasn't the one hurting people, yet I was supposed to be so darn careful that I was always nice to everyone. I now think it's okay for everyone to mess up sometimes. Sure, it's good to learn that there's a better way and a higher ground, and to know that we have the option of rising above crap when we want to.

But if we get some crap on us, we can just take a shower and move on and resolve to do better next time. I'd honestly rather that my girls learn that it's okay to handle things wrong sometimes, so long as they know they're always free to learn from their mistakes and change course, just as their old mom is constantly doing.
For sure I don't think that you need to go out of your way to be polite or gracious or even especially kind to these kids. They are behaving in a really rotten way, and I don't think you need to talk yourself into feeling sorry for them because of potentially bad home situations or anything else. I also don't think you need to try to be perfect or refuse to admit when you're making a mistake. But I still think that it IS a mistake to engage with these kids in any way, especially if it involves calling names or trying to "win" over them. You can't win. You can only refuse to play the game. Right now you are engaging with them on their terms, and I just don't see that going anywhere good for you. It seems to be leading you to act just as childishly as they are, which I would think you'd want to avoid.
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