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.