Two stories about our girls -
The Parakeet - Brian was holding Delia in the crook of his arm while I was making lunch. I commented that she looked tired as her blinks became longer and more closely spaced. He jokingly covered her eyes with his hand and said, "Sleep!" When he pulled his hand up and away from her face...she was asleep. Serious. He then laid her down in her crib where she had a half hour nap and woke up giggling.
The Baby Bear - We went shopping for beds yesterday (Kellie has outgrown her toddler bed). Kellie was playing with the other kids that were there with their parents. Two girls (who looked to be about 7 and 9) were being really nasty to her when she'd call out, "Hey friends! Let's go play on this bed!" they'd snicker and run the other way. When she asked their names, they gave her fake names and giggled behind their hands. I ignored their behavior and watched Kellie interact with them. I felt irritated that these girls were being so bratty toward my daughter, but figured she'd have to fight her own battles. Well, they played (if you can call running away from Kellie and trying to trick her into thinking they were playing hide and seek, playing) for most of our stay there. It amounted to 30+ minutes of play, each minute getting worse than the last. Still, Kellie was oblivious to their ploy. When they coaxed Kellie up into a storage closet behind a bunk bed, then each went to the two doors and began to hold them closed, the MaMa Bear in me lost it. I shouted across the display room, "Hey! Hey!! We do NOT lock little girls in closets! Step away from there RIGHT NOW!" The youngest was in my line of sight and responded immediately. The older girl was on the other side of the bed - all I saw was RED. The little girl stepped back from the door and shied away from me as I stalked over to her side. When I got closer, I asked, "What do you think you are doing?" Well, I guess I scared her speechless because she just stared at me with big eyes. In my stern-Mommy voice, I said, "Where are you parents? Are you here with your Mom or your Dad?" (The ring leader and older girl stayed within ear shot and listened to her younger friend get a serious scolding.) The younger girl pointed across the display floor and into the next room, "They're over there." she whispered. I replied quietly and with meaning, "I think it's best you go over there and tell them what you and your friend were doing." Her eyes got wider (I was starting to feel bad that I'd scared her) and she brought her hands in to cover her face. Still pissed at how they'd treated my baby for the last 30 minutes, I narrowed my eyes and whispered "Do you understand me?" She nodded and ran toward her parents, her older friend followed quickly behind.
I've been going over and over the scenario in my mind, wondering what I could have (or SHOULD have) done differently.
The facts are-
Those girls were behaving badly.
Their parents were nowhere in sight the whole time.
My daughter is three and naive to how terrible other kids can be.
Had I not stopped them when I did, Kellie would have been locked in that closet.
Knowing Kellie, she would not have gotten over it quickly. (Both the nasty joke and the feelings of betrayal.)
I ask myself -
Should I have intervened sooner? Like when they would coax Kellie onto one bed then giggle and run away, higher and farther than her smaller body could keep up with?
Should I have stood silently by and let Kellie learn a lesson that day? Whether it be -Stand up for yourself- or -The world is not the nice place your sweet little heart thinks it is-?
How much of my stern-voiced intervention was protecting Kellie and how much was lashing out at the little girls who were nasty to me in MY childhood?
How do I teach Kellie to stand up for herself when she clearly saw no malice in their tone of voice or games of trickery?
Is she still young enough to need protecting? Or is it time she endure her own emotional bruising in her transition into real life?
I'm glad she doesn't know what those girls were planning. Nasty little buggers. I'm glad she accepted my response that it was "time for them to go" when she asked where her "friends" had gone. I'm glad those girls listened and I hope they learned a lesson.
But I had nightmares about all of this last night. My MaMa Bear instinct has never presented itself more clearly or with more strength than it did in that furniture store. I'm all shaken up about it. I just want my baby's transition into BigKidWorld to go smoothly and without trauma.
...Is that too much to ask?