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Claiming Our Neighborhoods - Page 5

post #81 of 121
Quote:
Originally Posted by ImaSophie View Post
I am actually not understanding why you keep going to this park under these circumstances. ... I think the time has come to really open your eyes and see this is an unhealthy situation and to stop subjecting your children to it.
I agree with this. I don't think you are in physical danger, but I think this must be awfully hard (and embarrassing) for your children. You just seem so caught up in winning you don't care about anything else. I'm sure your kids have fun a lot of the time. And that's great, but why can't you just leave when the other kids arrive?
post #82 of 121
It seems like everybody is tiptoeing around this subject but I'm going to ask outright:

Are these kids a different race? I ask because they accused you of being racist. This leads me to believe THEY are being racist towards you and your children. Or at least the ones leading the bullying initiated it due to racism.
post #83 of 121
Quote:
Originally Posted by ImaSophie View Post
I am actually not understanding why you keep going to this park under these circumstances. I truly feel it is dangerous and that if the pressure keeps building someone will end up hurt. When these kids come near you do not engage just relocate to a different area. This whole situation is so twilight zone for me, these kids seem to think YOU are the target and your children are seeing this.

Your oldest has expressed she is distressed for you, and in fact in fear for you with this group of kids that seem intent to harm getting in your space. I think the time has come to really open your eyes and see this is an unhealthy situation and to stop subjecting your children to it.
I agree 100%. The situation seems to be escalating into something that has the potential to spiral beyond your control. These kids have nothing to lose by tormenting you and your family. If they provoke you into a reaction, they win. If they get tired of waiting for a reaction and do something more overt to harm you or your children, they win. I'm really afraid that your need to "win" or whatever is clouding your judgment, mama. You should have walked away from this mess a long time ago.
post #84 of 121
I would call your 10 year old being hit in the head with a basketball physically harming her. They have thrown acorns at you and your 10 year old, they are swinging bags of food near your head. all of these to me are signs that there is the potential for violence from these other kids.

I have followed your updates and IMO you are still engaging them when they crowd you relocate to a different area. By calling them disgusting and what not you are engaging if their spit is blowing on you just move or leave the park. You don't have to win here if it is emotionally harming your children to continue to see their mother, their protector bullied by teenagers.

What would you advise a loved one to do in this situation? Would you advise them to continue putting themselves in this same situation or would you advise them to take themselves out of the dynamic?
post #85 of 121
OP,
Ive been following this issue since before this thread. There was the intital incident that lead to this thread. I havent really had much to say about it, but now that it is turning into some kind of debate about wheather or not you should be doing this at all, I just want to say this in support of you:

You are a resident of that town. The playground is intended for children and families to play, exercise, and socialize. While it may be less than ideal, and your children may feel embarrassed, this is a learning experience. This is your community too. Do not let these 10 year olds run you off the playground.
post #86 of 121
I think that you have become their entertainment and they seem to be organizing their behavior around you. There really isn't any "ultimate win" in this situation. They've upped the ante and are targeting you, which is seriously, a whole different level. I wouldn't count on things not escalating-they have no regard for you as an adult authority figure, or as a person. The lesson for your dd was learned a while back. This behavior doesn't seem to be for her-it seems to be for you, and it's dangerous.
post #87 of 121
Thread Starter 
Quote:
You just seem so caught up in winning you don't care about anything else.
I certainly wouldn't see myself as "winning" if I thought my children were being harmed in the process, physically or emotionally. Also, I see winning as loving one another and enjoying life, so IMO it's great if everyone wins.

I do feel like we are winning in that my 10yo now has a couple of pretty close friendships with girls who play with her almost daily at this playground (well, one friend is just there at the weekend because she lives with her mom during the week).

One of these girlfriends spent the weekend with us and is coming over again this Saturday; the other is planning to spend the night the weekend after. This is just wonderful for my dd, who hasn't had close girlfriends like this since her best friend moved away a couple years back.

We do sometimes visit other parks -- but this one is pretty unique in its characteristic of being frequented by many of the same kids every day. At other parks, friendships are less likely to develop because of the awareness that whoever you are playing with this time, you will probably never see again.

Quote:
Are these kids a different race? I ask because they accused you of being racist. This leads me to believe THEY are being racist towards you and your children. Or at least the ones leading the bullying initiated it due to racism.
Yes, we are different races -- but there are kids of our race in their group of freinds, so I haven't rushed to assume that their targeting us has anything to do with our race.

Quote:
The situation seems to be escalating into something that has the potential to spiral beyond your control. These kids have nothing to lose by tormenting you and your family. If they provoke you into a reaction, they win. If they get tired of waiting for a reaction and do something more overt to harm you or your children, they win. I'm really afraid that your need to "win" or whatever is clouding your judgment, mama. You should have walked away from this mess a long time ago.
Have you read the bullying articles? These articles actually say it's supposed to get worse before it gets better. And it actually seems to be getting better, though of course it may not look this way since, as I've already said, I've devoted a lot more space to discussing the difficult stuff than recounting the hours and hours of sheer fun.

Quote:
What would you advise a loved one to do in this situation? Would you advise them to continue putting themselves in this same situation or would you advise them to take themselves out of the dynamic?
Honestly? I'd advise them to read the articles on bullying because it's been life-changing for us.

Quote:
You are a resident of that town. The playground is intended for children and families to play, exercise, and socialize. While it may be less than ideal, and your children may feel embarrassed, this is a learning experience. This is your community too. Do not let these 10 year olds run you off the playground.
Thanks for this vote of confidence!

Quote:
I think that you have become their entertainment and they seem to be organizing their behavior around you. There really isn't any "ultimate win" in this situation.
We are winning by having fun and making friends. They may decide at some point that they'd like to win, too. Or not. Once they realize they won't get a reaction, they're bound to direct their attention elsewhere. We just won't be that interesting once they realize that they're really never going to find that remote control button.
post #88 of 121
Thread Starter 
Well, within the last few days or so things had really seemed to mellow out. The bullies quit hanging around me, and seemed to be involved in their own discussions and not the least bit interested anymore in my dd or in our family.

The girls had been having fun playing, and dd1 has been having a great time with her friends, one of whom just came and spent another night over the weekend.

Then tonight some things happened that made me realize that one of these children is pretty mentally-imbalanced. It's actually the same girl who had been so friendly with dd1 at the fountains a short time ago. She had told dd that the reason they'd been picking on her was because her "mom was being a racist." (I don't know if I already mentioned this, but she was also one of the spitting girls.)

Neither dd nor I had reacted to this comment, other than the fact that dd had come straight to me and told me what the girl had said, so I'm sure the girl realized I was aware of it.

Anyhow, tonight all of a sudden this girl started trying to mess with dd1. Dd had been having some run running up the slide and this girl suddenly told her "NO!" and sat on the slide, positioning herself so that one leg was on each slide so dd coudn't run up either one (there are two slides side by side).

So dd just walked away. A moment later dd noticed an empty pop can sitting on the ground and picked it up to bring it to me for recycling, and this girl ran to dd and yelled at her that it was her can. So dd handed the can to her and the girl headed to the trash to throw it away, and dd took the opportunity to run up the slide.

When the girl saw dd heading up the slide, she yelled "Naaaaaoooooooo!" and ran to dd and grabbed a piece of rubber turf that had come loose from the ground and hit dd with it. Dd said it didn't hurt, but at this point she decided to tell me what was going on, since I had been sitting on the other side of the playground and hadn't noticed (the slide faces the other way).

So I put my book up and started watching more closely. Dd said she wanted to run up the slide some more, so I walked over to stand nearby since this girl and some of her friends were sitting on the bench right by this area.

Nobody messed with dd on the slide, but a moment later when dd went running into the grass, this same girl took off after her and made a beeline right for her, holding up the playground-turf like she was about to hit dd again. She caught up with dd pretty fast, and I just yelled, "You leave my child alone!"

The girl immediately stepped away from dd and looked at me, and I just told her that dd wasn't bothering her and she needed to leave her alone. The girl said, "Yes she IS bothering me!" and looked like she wanted to say more, but then the ice cream truck came so she ran to buy ice cream.

A moment later she walked past me and said something like, "Ooh, I can't eat right now because she's so disgusting," and she headed over to the swing area where dd was waiting for a turn. She started telling dd stuff like "You've got lice" and "Yo mama so poor she had to rape a man to get some babies" --

And dd just came to me and told me. I told dd that she just needed to stay away from this girl, so if all she wanted to do was swing then we just needed to go. Dd decided to ride her bike.

Dd started riding her bike, and every time she rode past where the group was this girl was screaming invectives but dd was just ignoring her. A moment later I heard her telling some teenaged boy in the group to "go" and he headed across the playground, near a spot on the track where dd wouldn't be visible to me from where I was sitting.

So I just got up and stood near where the boy was standing, and the boy noticed me watching him so whatever the plans had been, he didn't do anything to my dd. And dd came back, turned around, and headed back the other way.

Then this girl kind of screamed out like she was really angry, and just took off running across the field after my dd. I headed out there too and as she was about to reach dd, I yelled, "You need to step away from my child!" and she stepped away from dd and glared at me.

Dd rode back towards me, and a bunch of kids in this group headed over, looking like they were kind of upset about the whole situation. A lot of people were watching by this point.

And dd2 had noticed me yelling and ran to me, and I just told dd's 1 and 2 that we needed to leave now, and that coming to this park wasn't worth their safety. I didn't care who was listening (and, yeah, some of the kids in this group were definitely listening), but I just told dd1 that the girl wasn't right in the head, and maybe it wasn't her fault, but it wasn't worth it to me to risk dd getting hurt.

We headed back to the car, and this girl followed us but stayed several feet away, screaming invectives at me and saying, "I know you wanna call me a n_____!" (she actually said the word). I got dd2 buckled in and got in my seat, and then one of our friends who is 11 came to the window to talk with me.

This 11 yo has always been very friendly with us, but has also recently become very friendly with this group. She's the same girl who previously told us she felt unsafe when there were no adults at the playground (the girl who one of the boys in this group had molested one time). I figure that she's got to do what she's got to do to cope and live in the neighborhood, and I really respect the way that she's continued to be friendly with us.

She said she'd talk to the girl, and she wasn't sure what was wrong with her, but maybe she wasn't being treated right at home. She said that's usually what makes people want to hurt other people. And I just reassured her that we still want to keep in touch with her, and are still hoping she can come visit in two weeks.

I also said we'll still come to play some at the playground -- but we will leave if a situation like this happens again. My children's safety comes first.

I still haven't given up on our neighborhood or our playground -- but of course my children come ahead of neighborhood restoration. Maybe we will just need to leave the moment we see this girl coming, I don't know. This was the first time I saw her looking quite so deranged, so maybe there were even substances involved.

I hope she gets the help she needs, but of course getting her help is not my job or my business. Since some of the other kids in the group actually looked upset and concerned about the way things were developing, maybe the majority of the group has lost interest in bullying my family. Maybe the majority would really rather not gain a reputation for being wrong in the head.

So I guess we'll just take a breather and take things one step at a time.
post #89 of 121
I was just wondering, are you the only adult in this playground? What do the other adults think of their (bullies') behavior? Even if my child weren't the one being picked on if I heard language like that being used on the playground, I'd be bound to say something.
post #90 of 121
Thread Starter 
There were a few other parents there with small children who didn't appear to be aware of the teen/preteen drama. There were also some sports teams practicing in the field who didn't seem to notice anything.

Dd just mentioned a little while ago that after I'd yelled at the girl to step away from her and she'd turned around and headed back toward me, as she went past the girl the girl was saying, "And I was going to ask you to play tag!"

Dd hadn't been aware that the girl had been running up behind her, but she knew the girl hadn't been about to ask her to play. Heck, the girl had been saying all kinds of hateful stuff and had even hit her once.

But I guess the girl might be planning to tell some story about how she'd just wanted to play with my dd and I'd run up and ordered her away, but I feel certain that everyone who's been around her this evening is aware that this wasn't the case.
post #91 of 121
Wow. If that happened here, I'd call the police. I know there isn't any information to arrest anyone, but they could monitor the park if they know there are problems there. I'm particularly worried that it sounds like this girl could have told a teenage boy to hide and attack your dd.
post #92 of 121
I don't mean to sound unsupportive, because it truly sounds frightening. Your dd was assaulted and verbally abused, and an older boy was potentially moving into place to do her harm. There was a group mentality going here, in that none of the group of kids stepped forward to do the right thing. This is serious buisness, and I hope you are in a place to be able to take this in and make safe decisions.

I don't know how you didn't see this coming, frankly. The actions that the kids have been engaging in toward your family serve a purpose for them.. It's not just bullying, IMO. It feeds a need for distraction, excitement, releief of boredom, need to feel in control...many things. Simply by being there, you play your half of that relationship. You are fortunate that it didn't escalate further, but I believe it may in the future.

I get wanting to reclaim your neighborhood, but at some point common sense has to step in. If you had chosen to stop bringing your kids to the park when things were in a bit of a lull with the other kids at the playground, you could have ended on an "up" note-in a place of feeling victory over a very nasty experience. You could have talked about accomplishing your goals, and then talked about needing a change of scenery because you had changed what you could, but that it may be better to move on to a fresh environment.

If you think about this only from your expectations, ie "If I do this, and try to understand this, and respond this way, then it will follow that I can expect a particular outcome", then I think you are bound to miss the larger picture. Often times people's behavior arises out of a need they have, and I don't hear anything that tells me that anything is better, or different for the playground bullies, and so I think that to expect that their behavior, or ability to navigate the "rules of the group" any differently than they did before is faulty.

I hope that you can all stay safe. If you need to make a stand, perhaps know that you have done your piece as an individual, but that for safety reasons it is time to either work as part of a group, or within a different system.
post #93 of 121
Quote:
Dd started riding her bike, and every time she rode past where the group was this girl was screaming invectives but dd was just ignoring her. A moment later I heard her telling some teenaged boy in the group to "go" and he headed across the playground, near a spot on the track where dd wouldn't be visible to me from where I was sitting.

So I just got up and stood near where the boy was standing, and the boy noticed me watching him so whatever the plans had been, he didn't do anything to my dd. And dd came back, turned around, and headed back the other way.
Here is a huge waving red flag with bells and sirens and an automated voice screaming "DANGER DANGER DANGER DANGER". These "kids" are ramping up their violent behavior and your children may pay the price.

Please, mama, don't subject your little ones to this nastiness anymore. If you want to take a stand or whatever, that's one thing, but it seems really unfair and potentially very dangerous to keep dragging your kids into it with you. I don't understand why making a point is a higher priority than shielding them from harm (verbal, emotional, and physical) and giving them a safe, gentle, happy place to play.
post #94 of 121
Mama,

Gently, at this point I think it's time to let go of going to the park for a good long while. I think you also missed your opportunity with these kids to set the tone of future interactions. They clearly do not respect your presence at all. If you keep going, at some point, that girl may hurt your daughter with you standing right there.

Also, in the future, in a situation like this, I wouldn't read a book OR sit where I couldn't see my child at all times. Yes that sucks but a price one pays for the safety and peace of our kids.

I've kept up with this whole thread and I'll probably be flamed for this but there is no way in heck that anyone would be hitting my kids or throwing freakin' spitballs at me without me going off. Oh those kids think they are so tough but they would see a crazy mama bear come out and roar.
post #95 of 121
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.

While this situation does not sound like it would be impossible to turn around, I believe it would take some very, very deft handling by someone with a lot of skill at interpersonal relationships, a lot of time/energy and a lot of bridge-building with other adults in that area. Is that where you want to be putting your focus?

I can't believe this is the only place your DDs can make friends. There must be activities available at the Y, the local Rec & Ed, local youth organizations, etc., etc. that would give your DDs a place to meet other kids their age.
post #96 of 121
Is this the only playground available or something? There are several playgrounds within a short distance of our house and I've never thought of any of them as "mine" or "ours" that I needed to claim or reclaim. I wouldn't go to a playground I thought was unsafe, and this sounds unsafe. Not to mention, how are any of you having fun if you're always watching your backs?

At this point I'd also start worrying about what you're teaching your children about other children and normal social interactions, esp since you homeschool and may not have daily interaction w/ other kids. I think everyone would agree with me--your playground situation is NOT normal and not something that the majority of parents/kids would allow, let alone seek out. And I don't mean you're allowing your girls to be bullied, b/c clearly you're not--I mean allow as in intentionally take them someplace where you know there will be kids who will be aggressive and mean. Please consider finding a playground where your children can be safe, relax and play. Who cares where it's located?!?
post #97 of 121
This has gone (from what you felt) a positive learning experience to a dangerous situation. It is NOT ok for a 10yo to repeatedly hear about someone raping their mother (or whatever the joke was), being called ugly, dirty, b!tch or M Fer. It is NOT ok for a 10yo's safety to be at risk. It is NOT ok for a 10yo to see her mother get repeatedly bullied.
It doesn't matter the reasons behind the bullying and it doesn't matter that you are entitled to play at this park. It DOES matter that your children grow up safe and in a nurturing environment. It isn't about winning and losing a fight. It IS about loving your children and knowing what is best for THEM.
It would be nice if you could let your children play at your local park and gain friendships but not to the detriment of their well being.
post #98 of 121
Mama, please, please don't go back there again.
post #99 of 121
Thread Starter 
I agree that we should not go to this playground for a long, long time. Yes, there are other playgrounds in our neighborhood but, sadly, alot of them seem to have taken out their swingsets and not to have as much equipment that's interesting to my oldest. We'll keep looking.

I don't know where anyone got the idea that I was saying this was the "only" place where my children could make friends. I had said that it's the only place where we experience continuity, in that we see a lot of the same children every day. Which has been positive in a lot of ways but, of course, the positives do not outweigh the negatives of this becoming a dangerous situation.

Last night I really woke up to the fact that the advice in these bullying articles clearly cannot work in dealing with abnormal children. And even the author of the articles has said that with mentally-unbalanced people, you just need to keep your distance.

I agree with finding new places to play and taking a long break from this playground -- at least for the time being, since I've noticed over the years that people with difficult home situations in this neighborhood tend to move a lot, so it's possible that in a short time some of these kids and their families will get evicted, which could totally improve the atmosphere of our playground.

So...we may check back in there from time to time, but be prepared to make a quick exit if anything or anybody seems "off." If we do get another chance to enjoy our favorite playground, we'll be more knowledgeable about how to handle bullying from the get-go, which may prevent things escalating, and maybe by then I'll have enough knowledge to make the playground a bully-free zone while we're there, simply by my adult presence.

I agree that maybe this time I had a lot of stuff surface from my own bullied past, and I mishandled some things, so I'm not the one who's going to be able to turn "this" situation around. But maybe someone else will, since I'm not exactly sure that the problem is going to go away just because we're not there. So if it comes up with children who have more skilled parents, maybe they'll nip it in the bud and turn the playground into a better place.

We will be heading back to that block sometimes because dd1 has two good friends there (she has another from there who has just moved someplace nearby), so sometimes we'll be picking these girls up or dropping them off after overnights and get-togethers. So maybe if we're there and it looks like a good time to play, we'll stop a bit -- but, again, be prepared to cut it short if need be.
post #100 of 121
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammal_mama View Post

I also think it's great that the parents who were using the park to dispose of their trash got caught and are being prosecuted (this includes the lady sending her dog to poop at the park) -- but IMO it's kind of dumb for the older lady to make it so obvious that she was involved in this whole process.

.
Just finding this thread and have made it to here-
This lady sounds AWESOME and I wish I had her living near our closest park.

I agree with her morals in standing up for the law, what she believes in and being open and honest about it. Can you imagine what a cleaner more decent place this world would be if more people cared that much?

I tend to be very open too, if I see someone break the law I let them know I see it and report it if neccessary
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