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Shocked and upset by this... and I don't think I handled it very well

(76 Posts)
emkana Mon 08-Aug-05 14:09:34

I took the dd's (4 and 2) to a nearby field today. There's a little hill there with a track going down. We were playing there with a ball when two boys on their bikes turned up - they were about 10. They said "Come on, we'll go down that track!" and seemed to want to go down there regardless of my dd's still playing there. So I said, quite unfriendly admittedly, "No, you can't yet, my dd's were here first!" to which they said "So? It's not your field" blahblah.
So I took the dd's to go and play somewhere else. Suddenly the one boy went down the hill on his bike even though my two year old was still standing there. I said "Watch out where you're going, she's only 2!" and he said "So?" really provocatively, which upset me so much that I said quite loudly "If you knock her over you won't have a life to live anymore!" which was not a great response I'm afraid . I walked away with the girls, but I could hear them shouting after us "you f*ing bitch" and things like that. We played at the other end then, and they were still cycling etc. They then came over to our side and I actually felt scared . I was wondering what I would do if they attacked one of my girls or if they tried to damage my pushchair or something. So I was just looking at them and the more aggressive one said "What are you looking at? I'll shove some grass up your arse in a minute!" I said, feebly, "I can look at whatever I like." but after that they left and we went home soon, too. Unfortunately it rather spoilt the morning. I can't believe that a/ boys this small can be this aggressive to a complete stranger b/I feel scared of two ten year olds c/I'm not capable of handling such a situation better. I used to be a teacher FFS!

What would you have done?

MissBegotten Mon 08-Aug-05 14:19:49

Told them off, same as you did! But I have to say I wouldn't have started off aggressive - I think you probably got their backs up. If you had started with please be careful of the little ones, you might have had a different response. If not, then I would have got tough!! I've had to tell older kids to be careful of mine and it helps to sound authoritative and confident. - you are telling, not asking or discussing.

Some kids can be intimidating, which is why you have to fake it and look all scary and tough! They can smell fear!

frogs Mon 08-Aug-05 14:19:52

Mmm, tricky one.

As the owner of a 10yo, who shares a class with some extremely stroppy and not v. bright boys, the one observation I have made is that they all, whether obviously 'nice' children or not, react better if they feel you're treating them like another adult rather than a little child. So when my little one is toddling around the school playground in serious danger of getting flattened, saying, "Sorry, boys, can you keep an eye out for the baby" usually results in them becoming quite protective (even though I still need to keep a very careful eye on her, as they tend to forget again quite quickly).

When confronted with large groups of scary teenagers I find using "gentlemen" or "ladies" is quite effective too, as in, "Excuse me, ladies, could we get through". I think a lot of these kids have such poor self-confidence that they overreact massively to anything that looks like a challenge. Whereas if you assume they're going to behave like reasonable adults they do sometimes rise to the challenge.

Mum2girls Mon 08-Aug-05 14:23:32

God how awful. My DDs are the same ages as yours....

It's so easy to feel real anger when you think your kids may be threatned isn't it? I'd have probably reacted in exactly the same way. But, as I wasn't in the situation and can read about it in the safety of my own home, I can only imagine that I would probably have moved on a the first sign. Then if he'd come down on his bike at my 2yo, I'd have gone ballistic at him and probably sworn my head off.

See, I'm no better even when I've thought it through...

Mum2girls Mon 08-Aug-05 14:24:33

Great advice frogs

Alannah Mon 08-Aug-05 14:34:26

Horrible little brats. I agree that you probably should have been a little more friendly initially however it really angers me when kids have so little respect for adults. Can you imagine being that rude when you were ten? I believe that they can smell fear and that if you continued to be agressive with them they would have cleared off. Sad really but if you display signs of intimidation they get a feeling of power, as I said horrible little brats!

marialuisa Mon 08-Aug-05 14:39:05

As someone who regularly looks after a 10 year old boy I have to agree that your comments would be guaranteed to get up the noses of him and his mates. I think their response to "my dds were here first" would be "so now we can have a turn" I know there is an overwhelming instinct to protect littlies from great gallumphing boys but I agree with everyone else that you need to assume thoughtlessness rather than malice on the part of older kids.

frogs Mon 08-Aug-05 14:53:17

Alannah, I used to feel like you, but once your own children and their peers get closer to that kind of age, it gets easier to see where they're coming from. Some of my daughter's classmates would definitely be classed as intimidating, but having known them since nursery, and having helped out in the school, I know there is more to them than horrid brats.

They are all at that age struggling with the "am I an adult or am I a child" problem. A lot of the children who cut up roughest in any kind of confrontation are those who are socially and academically the weakest. Not only are they not taught how to behave nicely by their parents in the way that you or I would teach our children (say please, say thank you, don't say 'fuck'), and are generally either ignored or pushed around at home. As a result they are the ones who are most likely to need to flex their muscles.

I'm by no means a bleeding heart liberal -- they do behave dangerously because they're children, they're inexperienced, they show off, and I wouldn't let my younger child be put at risk any more than the next person. But if you approach older children as if they were dangerous scum until proven otherwise, they are fairly likely to fulfil or exceed your expectations. Whereas if you approach them in a civilised adult manner you may be pleasantly surprised.

Mum2girls Mon 08-Aug-05 14:57:12

The mother's Mantra...

say please, say thank you, don't say 'fuck'

Priceless, frogs!

handlemecarefully Mon 08-Aug-05 14:57:50

I like Frogs ""Sorry, boys, can you keep an eye out for the baby". Expect that 9 times out of ten this will elicit a positive response.

...but then if they had responded to this friendly overture with naked aggression and overt rudeness, gloves would be off and 10 years old or not, they would have got both barrels.

I'm not suggesting that I would have assaulted them or anything remotely like that, but I would have been deliberately intimidating and aggressive.

I really don't think that 'nice' children would call someone a f*&^ing bitch, and if they did then clearly they come from a home where aggression and lack of respect is all that they understand. Then I think you have to talk their language to get through to them - or be seen as a lily livered middle class sop (not suggesting for a moment that anyone on this thread is like that - don't misconstrue me).

ScummyMummy Mon 08-Aug-05 15:06:49

They were very rude, weren't they?

However, they did have as much right to be there as you and it sounds like the track was the best place to bike, whereas a ball game could be fun anywhere so it seems a shame things couldn't be sorted out more amicably. I do agree with those who've said that you might have caught more flies with honey but hey that's so easy to say in hindsight isn't it? I've lost it in situations like that before when I've felt my kids were being threatened, especially when they were younger. Have a look at the last paragraph of my 11.14 pm post here if you want to feel better!

handlemecarefully Mon 08-Aug-05 15:08:48

Scummy,

I've just read that and thought that you were remarkedly composed in the circumstances.

ScummyMummy Mon 08-Aug-05 15:17:18

Thanks hmc- not exactly dignified though, was it?

Alannah Mon 08-Aug-05 15:19:29

Frogs, I agree that the scenario would probably have been different if emkana had initially been a little less agressive. And I agree that agressive and intimidating kids have probably learnt this behaviour at home but, are we to let them away with it because they have a difficult home life?
Respect is earned in life and children need to be shown that, hence, initally emkana should have been polite. But I won't let nasty little brats intimidate me. Children are just small people, some of them aren't nice

Alannah Mon 08-Aug-05 15:21:19

By the way scummy pmsl at your sandcastle antics. You were very restrained, I probably would have rubbed their noses in the sand if they did that to my child.

marthamoo Mon 08-Aug-05 15:22:05

I think stamping on the sandcastle was a calm and measured response, scummy.

Agree with most people that maybe a better tack would have been to start off less aggressively - they do sound grim though and it might not have made a scrap of difference. I've found that most older ones are pretty careful and protective of little ones - but there's always the exception, like the 10ish year old who gobbed spit over my 3 year old when he was on the climbing frame in our local park (he didn't see my dh standing just by ds2 - so he got rather a shock when dh laid into him - verbally, I hasten to add!) It's very upsetting though and no wonder you were upset, emkana.

My Mum made me laugh the other day - she found a semi-country walk shortcut to her local Tesco which she took the boys and I along a few days later. It was very pleasant until we reached an underpass where a huge gang of scary looking teens were busily spray painting graffiti. My Mum had gone through there on her own - I would have turned back. She said she had just walked up to them and asked if she was on the right path to Tesco (she knew she was but thought it was best to initiate a conversation) and they were nice as pie and immensely helpful!

I was torn between being mad at her and impressed at her refusal to be intimidated!

handlemecarefully Mon 08-Aug-05 15:24:16

respect to Marthamoo's mum

And at the horrible ten year old who gobbed on your son, although I do agree that ime most older children are extremely solicitious of younger ones. My 3 year old dd is always getting 'mothered' by older girls - she loves it and plays up to it chronically.

emkana Mon 08-Aug-05 16:42:17

Thanks for your replies.

I know I should have started the whole thing off differently, and the response may have been completely different.

But I don't think my "low-level" aggression (very low level IMHO) deserved swearing and threats by them. That's what really shocked and upset me.

Very impressed by your mum, marthamoo!
And scummymummy, I wouldn't have been as restrained as you...

SoupDragon Mon 08-Aug-05 16:48:54

How you would react to a MN thread called : Some mother in the park told my 10yo son that "If you knock (my DD) over you won't have a life to live anymore" Somehow I don't think there would be much support for the mother who had said that.

Sorry but I think that was a completely unaccceptable response and I'm not overly surprised at the reaction to what appears to be a threat of physical violence against a 10yo.

emkana Mon 08-Aug-05 17:04:09

Oh dear. This is one of those moments when I am quite surprised at how upset I can get by comments of people I don't know at all really, and who don't know me at all really.

Isn't it strange though how you can suddenly realize something that was before totally obvious probably to others but totally unclear to you? Not in a million years, I swear, honestly, was I thinking of using physical violence towards that boy. But of course that's what he thought he meant... and that's how it came across, of course. But what I meant and felt at the time, was that if he hurt my daughter I would speak to his parents, his teachers, the police, anybody I could think of, so that he would deeply regret what he'd done. It's only now that I realize how bad my response must have sounded - against my intentions.

It's strange with Mumsnet sometimes because you can start a thread and you expect a certain reaction, ie support along the lines of "God, what awful boys, you poor thing" and all that, and then all of a sudden it's completely turned on its head and where I was before slightly dissatified with the way I had handled things I am now really really upset.

Wish I hadn't started this thread now.
Sorry for rambling.

CarolinaMoon Mon 08-Aug-05 17:09:56

FWIW, I really doubt that boy felt physically threatened by you. At the risk of being patronising , it sounds like the kind of thing kids say to each other in the playground, it's just an empty threat.

Don't feel bad Emkana, next time you'll have the words ready and hopefully it'll turn out better all round

frogs Mon 08-Aug-05 17:12:18

Oh emkana, don't take it personally. I think we've all had that kind of reaction when it felt as if one of our younger children was being threatened by bigger ones. But when your children get older, you suddenly have a perspective shift, and you start seeing your own hulking grumpy 10yo through the eyes of outsiders. So you become all protective of them in turn.

I certainly didn't read it as if you were threatening violence against the boys -- just as if you felt more physically threatened by them than they probably realised, and the whole situation escalated for you in a way you never intended it to.

HappyMumof2 Mon 08-Aug-05 17:12:56

Message withdrawn

IvortheEngine Mon 08-Aug-05 17:18:37

emkana - I want to say something reassuring to you but I don't know what to say. I've only got a minute until I have to pick up dd but I understand from the thread title that you wish you'd reacted better. You've learnt a lesson and you shouldn't feel bad about it for any longer. Who amongst us can say that we've never reacted to something in a way that we regret afterwards? Please don't beat yourself up over this. You weren't planning for one second to do anything that would hurt the boys, you just said something in the heat of the moment that could easily be understood a totally different way to the way you meant i.e. get in trouble with parents etc. The boys themselves weren't scared by you, were they? I doubt that they've given it another thought. Please put it down to experience and thing about something else. Don't upset yourself. Sorry, must dash.

Alannah Mon 08-Aug-05 17:25:04

emkana - I repeat - horrible little brats who should have in no way been that rude or intimidating to you. yes you could have handled it better but that doesn't change the fact that they are horrible, badly brought up, brats who have no respect for adults!

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