T is currently sporting a bit of a fat lip after face-butting a pavement. He isn’t usually that clumsy, as toddlers go, so he was rather shocked at the accident but very stoical, despite the blood and the pain. Now a few days later, he is much better and only occasionally points at his lip and says “ow”, when he fancies a bit of sympathy. But we are still being careful of his lip until the swelling goes down. Putting jumpers on is a very delicate operation right now.
So, I was more than a bit pissed off when Thug Kid decided to take a very deliberate run and push at him on the bouncy castle this morning. Yes, it was a soft surface but still, face-planting on a fat lip even on a bouncy castle is pretty painful. OK, so the kid didn’t know T had hurt his face but that kind of thing makes me really mad. Thug Kid’s Mum said sorry and made him apologise but what the hell is it with kids like that?
We’ve all come across them, right? I don’t just mean the boisterous, overexhuberant ones who bluster into everyone in their excitement or play a bit rough because they are too full of beans. I mean the kids that get that mean look in their eye, make a decision to do some damage and then really go for it. That’s what I saw today. Thug Kid got that look in his eye, checked to see that Mum was preoccupied with his baby brother and then launched himself at T full throttle with one aim: to knock him down.
I’m not saying this kid is a bad egg but he was definitely overtly aggressive. Maybe it was a one off. Maybe he was jealous of his little brother and acting up; I have no idea what was going on in his little head. But my kids are soft, sensitive souls and are always utterly shocked to be met with such deliberate aggression. That kind of violence is just totally outside their experience. Apart from the odd, halfhearted push they don’t even physically fight amongst themselves much. They make up for it by excelling at verbal warfare, mind you.
When T’s big brother H was about two, something similar but a lot worse happened to him. We came across a biter. I had already clocked this little bugger, who was a red-head of about three I guess – he was running about on the bouncy castle and ‘accidentally’ slamming into all the little ones. I was keeping an eye on him but he made a bee-line for H before I could stop him. The little shit charged him, shoulder barged him to the deck and climbed on top of him. He then straddled him, very deliberately searched for a bit of exposed flesh and bit his hand so badly that it bled.
Shocked didn’t even come close to covering it. It was the first time I had witnessed a kid so young being so brutal, so calculatedly violent, and I have to admit it threw me and my innocent belief that little kids don’t have a bad bone in their bodies. Having such a gentle child myself, I was genuinely alarmed that one so young – but old enough to know better – could have such a desire to inflict pain on another kid.
As I said before, I am not judging the parent or the kid. I have no idea what is going on in their world to cause that kind of behaviour. And, as today, the Mum reacted perfectly. She dragged her son out of the room immediately and took him home. But the look of resignation in her eyes told me this was far from a one off.
Once I’d patched H up and taken him home, I felt desperately sorry for that Mum, taking her kid into social situtations every day where he is likely to attack another child. A kid that seeks out smaller kids and bites them until they bleed. She then has to face the embarrassment. She has to leave, drag him home, deal with the inevitable tantrums and misery. And where do you begin when you have a kid like that? How do you tackle that sort of behaviour? Whatever parenting problems we’ve faced to date – and there have been many – I’ve never had to deal with that one and it is something I am deeply grateful for.
H was a very nervous toddler and he was pretty traumatised by the biting incident. He ran and hid from all red-haired boys for months afterwards. T is far more resilient and, once the hurt was gently rubbed better, he had forgotten all about today’s incident in minutes.
But today’s toddler agression took me straight back to my moment of realisation when H was bitten years ago: that some kids, like some adults, just are incredibly violent. I’m sure some are the product of their environment but I’m also sure that some just pop out like that, full of aggression. Hopefully, if their parents’ are able to help them, most will learn to control it as they grow up. But some won’t. And you have to wonder what happens to those ones.
I am thankful I did not give birth to a kid so full of rage. I have no idea how I would handle it. Like my kids, I am way too soft in the middle.
T and I went on to have a lovely morning, despite the earlier ambush. We chased each other on the bouncy castle, raced cars and painted. T smiled and giggled a lot, because that is what T does.
We had some snacks and a cup of tea after play time, him chatting away the whole time, sharing his crackers with me. After a brilliant Half Term, I am totally loved up with my three soft and sensitive kids right now and this morning made me feel even more so.
Soft isn’t weakness. Far from it. Soft is kindness, sensitivity, empathy. I am proud and grateful to have three such gentle children.
And I may be soft too, but us softies aren’t all as easy to push over as toddlers. Anyone threatening my cubs had better watch themselves. Thug Kids, you have been warned.