Today when we were at the indoor playground at the mall, Isak (friendly as ever) said hi to this other boy around his age. Out of nowhere this kid got a scary aggressive look on his face and sucker-punched Isak right in the face.
Isak was totally shocked (as were we), and before Markus and I could get over the parent fence, the kid hit him again. The boy ran off and Markus soothed Isak while I went after the kid who was shoving a little girl down at that point. I (politely, which was hard, I was surfing on adrenaline at this point) asked him where his mommy was.
He led me to a very nice looking pregnant woman and I asked if he was her son. She looked at me, puzzled, as I told her he was being really aggressive, pushing and hitting other kids, that he had punched my son in the face, hard.
She looked appalled, apologized, and dragged him off while he cried, and I headed back to see Isak who had a bright pink patch on his face where the kid hit him. I gave him a hug and told him that the other boy’s mommy had taken him home, then we had an impromptu talk about bullies. I was NOT expecting to have to throw myself into defensive mama-bear mode and have this conversation today. I would feel completely ashamed if the situation were reversed.
I was proud he hadn’t retaliated on the other kid’s level, but what do you say? Both Markus and I reiterated the “come tell a grown up” bit, but the hard part was that he wanted to know why. Why this kid he’d just said hello to had hurt him – how do you explain that? We tried – saying that some people feel angry inside and don’t know how to treat other people, and it has nothing to do with you, but still, it’s scary. Do you start self defense classes at 4 years old these days? Maybe you do.
Remembering the look on Isak’s face right afterward makes me feel ill. It’s not as though we’re raising him to think the world is all sunshine and rainbows, but we want him to at least feel safe. The look on his face made me feel like that sense of safety got dented, but honestly? – I think he’s bounced back from it better than I have. I still feel really upset.