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Is it okay for a 3-year-old to bully strangers?

December 29, 2015


The answer is obvious to any sensible parents, not so to some. Read more for the whole story that became my first post on Parenting.


It was Christmas at a ski resort. Its cafe was packed with customers taking breaks, eating snacks, going to restroom. My husband and I took turns to ski with our daughter and watch our 22-month old son. When it was my turn to watch our son I found an empty bench at the corner of the cafe. As soon as I settled down I took notice of a boy about 3 years old because he pushed my son and another stranger boy (about 4 years old) standing nearby as he passed our bench. Because it was crowded and my son and the stranger boy were standing very close to a wall. Neither of them fell.


The 3-year-old went to his table, got his mother, and walked pass our bench again. At the end of the bench, there was a Candy Crane machine and Gravity Hill machine-typical quaters-in-candies-or-junkies-out thing which is everywhere children may go.  He and his mother went to the Candy Crane machine either trying to put quaters in or getting candies out. Their activity might have made my son think he could play the other machine. Usually he is shy with new people and new environment. He'd rather smile, or watch, or cling to my leg. As soon as my son went to grab the handle on Gravity Hill. The 3-year-old reached over and pushed my son. The second time, the same surprising push, but harder and there was some space, my son fell to his bottom. I immediately felt it was going to happen again so I stepped up to the machine.


Exactly as I thought, as soon as my son got up, the 3-year-old reached over again. This time my left side blocked his arm and hand. "I'm sorry you can't push him." I said.

"They're just kids." His mom said.

"But you aren't a kid. You shouldn't consider it's okay for him to push others or pretend you didn't see it." I said.

As we were exchanging words. The 3-year-old reached over again either to push or to grab the handle of the Gravity Hill machine which my son was rattling.

"Sorry he is playing it first, please wait for your turn." I siad.

What I just said somehow intrigued or challenged the other woman. She decided to speak more than the three words-"They're just kids."

"He's so little, he doesn't know he is first." She siad, pointing and looking at my son.

"Oh yes, he knows he's first. If he's not, I'm here to help him take turns." I siad.

"But we were here first." She said.

"But your son was playing with that machine, not this machine." I said.


I don't know why what I just said was so painful to her. "STOP! END IT! STOP!" She suddenly started to repeatedly yelling at me. I didn't make one squeaky noise since her first "stop". I didn't dare to look straight in her eyes. I was afraid what she might do to me as we stood my shoulder to her chest height. Who knows? Maybe she's crazy. A taller, younger, stronger crazy lady? 


Of course it took me a few minutes to calm down inside. Am I wrong to address the issue at all? Why it didn't go well? Am I bad at approaching the issue? Is there a better way to do it?


As I was trying to calm myself down. I realized that I have come in contact with women from many races and regions either through work, study, or living here in US. She is distinct. She looks a lot like people of the race and region where everyday life is still civilian, political, or religion turmoil. She is as firm as steel. Maybe I'm lucky nothing crazier happened except the dramatic end of it.


Ever since I'm a mom, I have seen the influence of my husband and I, especially my language, actions and attitudes on my children because I have more interacting time with them. I haven't expereinced a second thing in my life that I can have the same or a greater impact. This is one of the main reason why I Iove my full time parenting job. Which also reminds me to stride to be a better person so my children may grow up to be good citizens.


I have also seen the consenquences of many parents who think toddlers are too yong to teach them keeping hands to themselves, too innocent to direct their misbehavior, too weak that they'd be hurt by "no". When they aren't babies anymore, they start to kick, spit and yell "I hate you, mom!". I experience pain and sympathy for these parents.


Ever since I'm a parent, whenever there is a bomber, a shooter, a terrorist, my first thought goes to their parents. Who are they? What do they do? What did they tell or not tell their child? What did they do or not do for their child? It isn't the parents' fault, is it? Whom, when, how did they get the idea that it's okay to hurt strangers? What is the point of the origin of the idea?. I expereince frustration and powerlessness. I have no idea of the answers to any of the questions. Nobody has.


Whoes world is it?


Only God knows.



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image of The PhD Homemaker with her children









The PhD Homemaker is where I justify my homemaker title with a Pretty High Degree (PhD). Kidding. 

Boys Should Be Boys

January 22, 2016

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