Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Mama Bear Incident

I'm kind of embarrassed, and I'm not sure what to do about it now.  I'd love some honest advice in whether you think I should apologize or just let it go.

Here's the story.  Our new ward has a park play group on Wednesdays, and I was excited to go today.  We were the first ones there, and our kids were playing nicely as the other kids arrived.  Pretty soon there were about 12 moms and tons of kids, including a few who wanted to rough house.  I was okay with that, and Lee thought it was cool to tag along.  They were mostly just goofing around being normal little boys--showing off their strength and play fighting.

After about ten minutes though, it started to get a little rough.  I called Lee out of the group a couple of times, just to get him away from it, but they kept it up.  When one kid wrapped an arm around Lee's neck and clamped on really hard way in the back of the park, I ran over and broke it up, encouraging them kindly to choose a different game--maybe tag or space explorers or building sand castles.  A couple of the kids agreed and ran off in different directions.  But a few still were insistent on playing violent, inappropriate games, and this time they had at it right in front of the group of moms, right where a group of smaller children were playing.  In a matter of about fifteen seconds, I watched them throw each other around, hit and punch, knock over a couple of little girls leaving them in tears, and then I heard Lee yell "Hey! Stop it, that's not nice!" and they wrapped another arm around his neck and threw him to the ground.  I couldn't take it any more.  The looks on the boys' faces had changed from playful to downright mean, and so I jumped up, put a firm hand on each kids' shoulder, looked them straight in the eye and told them that the way they were acting was absolutely inappropriate.  I told them that they were not allowed to act that way, that they needed to be nice and quit hurting other people.  I pointed out the three crying kids on the ground and said that they'd hurt them and asked them if that's what they wanted--to hurt people?  When I'd been stern with them to the point that they were both whimpering, I told them to please play nicely and apologize to those they'd hurt, let them go, and turned to go back to the group of moms. 

That's when I noticed that the chatty group had gone dead silent and everyone was staring at me in shock.  I was about to burst into tears myself when one sweet girl broke the ice with, "You GO, Lisa!"  Then everyone laughed a bit and someone asked me what had happened, and I told them that the roughhousing had gotten out of hand and there had been a few casualties along the way.  Someone joked that I didn't care if the boys beat each other up, as long as nobody was in the way, and I tried to laugh it off... but the tension was still there and after that no one talked to me again.  We stayed for another fifteen minutes and I didn't dare approach the moms of the boys who I'd just scolded. 

Now I feel embarrassed and I worry that I really offended those moms.  Some parents I know would be really cool with what I did, and would feel grateful that I was watching out for their kids when they were maybe a little distracted with something else.  But some parents would be offended that I disciplined without their permission--even if someone else was in danger.  I'm not ashamed of my choice to step in when I did--people were getting hurt and I didn't feel like the actions being taken (or not taken) by the parents were appropriate.  But I'm not sure if I should just let it be and play it cool or if I should approach the two moms and apologize for ripping into their boys.  I really don't want to be tagged as the mean mom or the helicopter parent of the ward.  I'm normally pretty chill with however other people choose to parent.  I'm sure they would also do the same if their kid was in danger, but I don't think these two moms actually witnessed what was going on until it was too late.

Anyway... thoughts? opinions?  should I apologize or just let it be?


Kristin said...

I say just let it be. You weren't out of line, and it sounds like their level of play was. Sometimes when boys get familiar with each other their rough house gets rough. I see it with the scouts sometimes and have to just remind them that the church isn't the right place to rough house. I"m sure it'd get way out of hand if i let it though. I say keep going to play group, maybe take a fun snack next time to make friends with the older boys. If somebody says something then explain your feelings. You had one brother growing up, I had 4, and they wrestled all the time, including arms around necks but when smaller kids get hurt, that aren't family, it's time to stop. It was a good thing you did.

John and Anna said...

Oh Lisa, I would have done the EXACT same thing! But I'm known for that in my neighborhood now. :) I've never had the awkward silence afterwards cause the kids I get after never have moms around, but if I had I think what I would do is just pray hard. I'm sure you already have, but then when you do get the chance to be around those moms again the Spirit will be able to guide you to know what to say and do to keep the peace.

You're nice to have already given them the benefit of the doubt in saying that they were just distracted. Hopefully that's the case, and if not, then those kids need to learn that lesson somewhere and good for you for being brave enough to teach it!

It's true, boys will be boys, but no one should have to get hurt while they are being boys. :)

And what kind of Mom would you have been if you hadn't stopped your child from being choked to death. :)

You are awesome Lisa! I wish me and my kids were in that play group with you. :)

kimber said...

I say that if YOUR kid is getting stuck on the end of it you have every right to tell the boys off.

Laurie Fifield said...

I agree that you did the right thing. I would have done the same. But now you need to deal with the feelings of the other moms. It wouldn't hurt to seek them out and let them know that you didn't want to hurt their feelings but you were worried about the other younger children. You need friends too. Enlist the help of the mom who cheered you on. Ask her what her take on it is. She may know the other moms better. Some people get hurt easily, and some just go with the flow. They need to know that you meant well and weren't looking down on their parenting style.