I took Bean to our local library’s toddler time for the first time about two and a half weeks ago. They hold it at 9:30am, so we didn’t get there until 9:45 since he only woke up at 9:15. But I was determined to get him there that morning since I actually got up and showered before him for a change! And he LOVES being around other kids and getting out and about, so I’m really trying to find more activities we can do, especially that are free or at least cheap.
We missed the first story, but got there just in time for a song, which the leader handed out “shaker eggs” for (maracas without handles), and Bean, of course, thought that was the greatest thing ever! The leader was collecting the eggs, and Bean was being so good by going to put his away...until another boy grabbed it out of his hands and put it away himself. At this point, I’m not sure if that’s the same “mean boy” that this post is really about, but, gee thanks kid. My son was learning a lesson in helping and actually giving up something in his possession (something we struggle with now that we’ve hit toddlerhood). She then read another story, which we struggled with…he didn’t want to sit still for the entire thing, but I couldn’t let him run around either. After all the stories and a song, it’s craft time! Sometimes he likes to at least color, other times he’d rather just get to playing with the toys they have there. And enter the “mean boy”…
There’s an older boy, actually I think beyond the age group for this particular toddler time, who was there that day. I could not believe some of his behavior. He was there with his younger sister and grandmother, and the grandmother did nothing to try to correct his unacceptable behavior (in my opinion). I’d say the boy doesn’t know how to share, even though he has a sibling, but he does apparently. However, he seems to have “selective” sharing abilities. He and another boy were playing with a HUGE bag of Mega Blocks. Bean loves his legos! So of course he sees the bag of legos and goes to retrieve one. He did not take it out of one of the boys hands. He did not even take it from the structure they were building. He took one from the pile not currently being touched or used. I saw nothing wrong with that. I was even hoping the boys would let him join in their fun. But no… As soon as that kid saw Bean holding the lego, he grabbed it and ripped it out of Bean’s hands so hard that I was afraid he would hurt him! Bean did not seem too phased by that (thankfully), but I wanted to cry for him! It broke my heart to see someone be so mean to him… I slowly led Bean away and said “I’m sorry baby, you’re apparently not allowed to play with them”, hoping the grandmother would hear me and reprimand that boy or at least tell him he needs to share with all the kids, since those blocks were not his own personal ones. But no. I tried to keep Bean away from the blocks as much as possible, but when the grandmother began to put them away and BEAN (not her grandson!) actually helped her, I thought he would finally get his chance at those blocks and that they would be out of there a lot quicker than they were. But no. The boys continued playing, the grandmother continued ignoring them, and the legos were still there. So, when I saw Bean go to retrieve a car lego that was sitting away from the boys, unattended, unused, I let him take it (because my boy LOVES his cars – first word by the way!). The mean boy went to take it from Bean, but I stepped in (since Grandma couldn’t be bothered to). He reached for it and said they needed ALL the legos because they were building something huge (which they hadn’t gotten very far with, and Grandma was already trying to get the kids out of there), but since I was now holding it, he did not grab it out of my hands. It took all I had to remain calm. But I did. And I said to the other boy, “But can we please share?”. He began to protest, claiming they needed every single lego in existence, and again, I just said, “Can we please share?”. At that point the mean boy backed down and then was out of the library a few minutes later (HUGE structure not even halfway completed, I might add). But really? I don’t feel I should be the one who has to teach other people’s children a lesson in sharing. However, I
did tried to that day. At first I felt completely helpless for Bean. I never encountered a situation like that before, and I had absolutely no idea how to approach it. After seeing that the grandmother was doing nothing about it, I felt it was my turn to step in and stand up for my son. Yes, I realize that one day I won’t be there to defend him. I realize that he will have to look out for himself at times. But at only 20 months old, I needed to do something. Did I do the right thing? Should I have done something differently? It felt like the right thing. And I really don’t know what I would have done differently.
We went back to toddler time the next week, and I was kind of dreading “the mean boy”. What would happen this week? How would I react? How would Bean react? We lucked out. The mean boy wasn’t there. We missed toddler time this week, because someone was a sleepy head (thanks daylight savings for screwing up our wake up time…), but I will continue to take him back every week we possibly can go. Especially because we did meet a very shy, nice little boy, a year older than Bean, who played with him the second week. And the boy’s mom is nice and easy to talk with as well.
Have you ever encountered a situation like this? How did your child react? How did you react?