(The title should be read thusly; playground woooOOoooes!)
I'm sure bullies on the playground are common, but for me, being a first-time parent, it was a new thing that I didn't immediately know how to handle. Most parents I meet are fairly attentive and have a discipline system that works for their kid.
This parent was not paying even attention, which meant that I had to pay extra attention. Harrumph. Her younger child was C's age, around the 1 1/2 to 2 age with similar physical and verbal development. So naturally C approaches the boy wanting to play. The boy gives him a shove and runs off. His older sister tries to tell on him, but their mom isn't listening and replies with, "that's nice."
I look at the other parents like, did that really just happen? But of course they are all absorbed n their mom conversations and their own kids. I decide I'd better keep both eyes on my kid around this little boy.
Soon after, the boy tells C "no" and shoves him off of the lower step of the slide. I raise my voice then and tell the boys sternly, "Play nice." The kid gives me a whatever look and runs off on his merry way.
Not five minutes later, another mean shove, but this time Mom sees. Thank goodness, I think as she draws her boy to the side... To talk sweetly to him. The word "no" never leaves her mouth. The kid is 1 1/2. He's not going to understand that he did something wrong unless you tell him so. The worst part, though, is that the mom immediately goes back to reading, instead of paying attention to see if her boy continues to shove.
Which, of course, he does. About that time I realize that while I'm sitting here mentally criticizing the other mom, I'm failing my kid. I don't want C learning that his mommy lets other kids bully him and he has to stand up for himself before he's even two years old. So, this is not a time to tip toe around the other moms and make sure I observe all the social niceties. Maybe they let this kid shove theirs around all the time. I don't care. This is a time to stand up for my kid in a clear, unambiguous way.
I see my kid get shoved again, and I go up to the other little boy and tell him, down in his face, "No. Play nice."
He gives me this look like, "Oh. You mean it." And I stand there between them and make sure he does play nice. And you know what? They do. (And his mom didn't even notice.)
I. Have. The Power.