First, toys were snatched out of her hands, more than once. Then, she was pushed. And to top it all off, as she was reaching for a bubble and caught it, this boy smacked her hard, in the hand (to pop the bubble!). (Captured it on Vine if you want to see.) His mom was young, had another baby strapped to her chest (facing out in a crotch dangler) and every time she saw her son do these things she would say, "that's not nice" or "you need to apologize" but would never get down on his level, remove him from the situation, wasn't firm and didn't actually ask him to apologize to her. The worst part is that every time he did these things to Lemon - you should have seen the look on her face.
It broke my heart. It was a look of "Why did he do that?" Or, "What did I do wrong?" She looked at us for help, for guidance and we had nothing for her, just a hug and a kiss and to tell her that it was ok. We couldn't stop this kid from being mean to her, only his mom could, and we couldn't shelter our girl from it. I guess it was a tough lesson for us to learn too, you can't protect your babes from the meanies out there in the world. What a bummer.
Sometimes I think Ian is too firm with Lemon when she does something wrong; but he deals with behaviors like her, in grown kids, every day so he does know his stuff. And you know what? Lemon doesn't hit kids, push them or take things from them - and it's because we taught her that you don't act like that to someone else, you keep your hands to yourself. She is really the sweetest thing, and despite the confused, hurt look on her face, she just toddled away and got over it. She is so resilient, unlike me, I wanted to just scream at that mother. Don't get me wrong, our kid is not perfect. She doesn't listen (like all other toddlers), throws things when she doesn't want to do something and throws silent fits when she wants her way (seriously silent, face down, on the floor). But, she does treat other kids with respect.
I know that people have different parenting styles and some don't like to give their kids a firm "NO" like we do. But, it works! Lemon doesn't touch things she isn't supposed to, only tried to eat dog food once (and got the firmest "No!" that scared her half to death!) and treats other people nicely, because the one time she pushed a little girl she got that "NO!" and never did it again. We don't spank her, and with good discipline I personally believe that you don't have to, but we are firm with her, and it takes just one or two times before she knows not to do it again. Why are parents so afraid to be tough with their kids? You know what happens when you aren't? Your child is the one hitting, pushing and snatching things from others . . . and it drives me bonkers.
I love doing "kid stuff" with Lemon - we love Gymboree, swimming and doing whatever else she loves to do. The only thing that makes it not fun are the other kids, and of course I don't blame them, I blame their parents. The parents who are on their phones instead of watching their kids run wild and knock over the little ones playing peacefully, the parents who don't see their kids pushing, hitting or being mean to others. The parents who are too afraid to say no or that say no too much it has lost all meaning (you've seen these frazzled, crazy parents too!). There's nothing like the mom constantly yelling at her 3 children at the grocery store the other day to make me not want to have 3 kids - it looked terrible! But, it's all how you handle it and the kids were just bored with nothing to do. Give those kids a list and make them go on a grocery scavenger hunt!
Lemon is a good girl because we've taught her to be a good girl. Ian's kids bite him as teenagers because no one taught them not to when they were just little muffins. I am happy that my husband isn't afraid to be firm and give Lemon some boundaries; after all, kids are like dogs, they love rules and boundaries. Trust me, I teach high school. The best teachers, who have the best students, hold their students accountable, give them timelines and rules and expect nothing less. Why don't we do the same as parents?
So, to the kid's mom at Gymboree who I think was just young, tired and didn't know what she was doing - I do blame you for not disciplining your kid. Next time, I just may say something. But, to my sweet Lemon who had no idea what was happening - I wish I could protect you from what's out there in this world, but I won't always be there to do it. It's a cruel world out there but you handled those situations with grace, tact and just ignored his bad behavior - just like we've taught you to do. Just like I hope you will do in the future, when the bullies get meaner and the world gets more cruel. I'm proud of you.