A Bully-in-Training at the Park

Josiah has been loving the park lately. He races around, and goes down every slide with such delight. We feel like we’ve been able to connect with him in our hours at the park on a deeper level than when we’re tied to the confines of our in-house routine. Dear family memories are being built this summer, and these are edging ever closer to “normal.”

In just the past short month or so, Josiah’s gone from being kind of afraid to explore at the park to mastering the climbers and the slides (even head first!). He’s gotten quite brave. He also now spontaneously uses the phrase “climb up” when he needs some help. He says, “come on” when he grabs my hand to take me somewhere. He runs around in the field and then locates me with my arms stretched out, then he runs into my arms smiling and laughing all the way. He also requests for me to “spin” him and “flip” him. He’s gotten to see and pet dogs at the park.

He keeps going up to perfect strangers (EVERY stranger–young and old) and asks (or, I guess, demands) them to “whistle” for them. His socialization skills are improving. He looks people right in the eyes and makes his request. He’s been great at transitioning when it’s time to leave the park to go home. We’ve seen some good signs at the park.

But, tonight we had an incident that got my husband and me a little peeved. These two little boys came down the path to the park. One was probably approaching age 5, while the other was probably nearly 4. Josiah saw them and started toward them. The younger one said, “Hi,” and to our surprise, Josiah said “Hi” right back. Then, Josiah noticed the older boy had a bright green kick ball with him and Josiah tried to grab the ball. The little boy said harshly, “No, you can’t play with this!” Okay, fine, I thought, that’s pretty normal for a kid that age not to want to share, so I redirected Josiah to something else. (Although, I wanted to say, “Do you know how many thousands of therapy dollars have been spent to get him interested in balls, and now you’re discouraging him!?!–Side note: Josiah mastered his ball program at school last week.) Anyway, it was what followed that was annoying.

The boy kept coming up to Josiah and taunting him in that sing-songy “nanny, nanny boo boo” sort of way! He said, “Hey, do you want the ball, well you can’t have it!” Then, he got up on the climber and Josiah was trying to pass across the walkway, and the little brat said, “I won’t let you get through.” Later, Josiah’s trying to climb up the slide, and the kid says, “No! You can’t climb up here.” Then, he taunted him about the ball again. Luckily, Josiah was oblivious, but I tried to explain to this kid that JoJo’s a lot smaller than he is, and he doesn’t understand. My husband, however, was trying to match wits with a four year old, but realized that was no use. The kid’s dad was checked out and not intervening. We’re pretty sure it’s been a pattern of bad parenting, and it didn’t help that the bratty kid had an “I Love to Fart” t-shirt on.

With Josiah, we haven’t had to deal with kids like this yet. Most kids are either really sweet or neutral with him. Certainly, every child will have to come into some contact with a budding bully or a kid who makes fun of them. But, there’s something inside you as a parent that wants to get so protective and shelter your child from ever being hurt. When your child has some sort of disability, you have a lot of backstory and baggage that fuels your passion to preserve his spirit. I know Josiah has worked really hard to notice and socialize with peers, and he only knows that he gets cheered on for doing that. When he gets a negative reaction, that makes me anxious. It also makes me worried about kids teasing him one day if he’s different in some ways than them. Kids are cruel with their comments or by the way they simply exclude others sometimes. I’m sure we all have some memories of a mean kid.

Well, this sort of incident will likely be rare in the days ahead, but it sparked fears in me about what could happend down the road. I so want my son to one day have friends at school, and have fun, and have a spirit that will always fight against being dampened. He’s so sweet, and this mommy wants him to have the confidence and freedom to enjoy thousands of afternoon adventures.



2 Responses

  1. […] A Bully-in-Training at the Park Well, this sort of incident will likely be rare in the days ahead, but it sparked fears in me about what could happend down the road. I so want my son to one day have friends at school, and have fun, and have a spirit that will always … […]

  2. I really feel ya. It is a really scary thing. I love Matt’s innocence and I also worry about it…and he’s 12! The kids at school have all really supported him but I also know that those same kids are now entering puberty. Matt is heading to mid school this year and I’m a little anxious about it too. The feeling never goes away. A new chapter just opens new anxieties. It just means that you love him 🙂

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