Yesterday afternoon we took Ayla to the mall. When we have time off together (which is very rare) we like to take Ayla somewhere fun. The mall doesn't sound like it would be fun for a 1 year old, but oh boy does she love the mall! All the people and all the colors and all the noise! She loves to run along right beside us giggling and swinging her arms. And when we've looked at all we want to look at our final stop is the indoor playground. Our little girl loves the playground. She's sees the slide and before she's even out of her stroller she's saying, "WEEEEE!"
Yesterday we were trying to get Ayla out of her stroller, but with her pulling and squealing it made an easy task into quite the ordeal. Once she was free she took off running to the nearest group of kids. She had a smile from ear to ear and her arms were waving, she was clapping her hands, she even said, "HEY!" to a little boy.
Then from the right I see a boy about 3 years old come straight at her and knock her down. It was clear he did not want her playing with the boys. She fell back hard, landing on her bum and then finally laying on her back. Joseph jumped up instantly, saying things that should never be said around children. I sat and watched in horror as my little girls heart broke to pieces on that playground. The wail that followed her spill was awful. I wanted to cry right along with her. For the first time I watched my innocent and truly happy baby girl be knocked down by a BULLY. Her excitement and joy, gone.
Joseph picked her up and snuggled her, wiping her tears and bringing her over to her mother. She reached for me, sobbing. Her big round eyes met with mine and my heart broke. Her eyes said, "Mommy what did I do to deserve that?" I kissed her little cheeks and I laid her head on my shoulder and said, "It's ok baby, you are just fine!" I smiled at her and I let her know that she was a tough girl and that she could still go have fun. Once her sobs (and I mean SOBS) quieted I set her back on her feet and said, "OK, GO!" This is her cue to take off squealing and swinging those arms. She looked out at the bigger kids, looked back at me, and whimpered. She was scared. That BULLY had instilled fear in my happy, confident, friendly baby girl.
I looked straight ahead to the bully and his mother and our gazes locked. She mouthed, "I'M SO SORRY!" as she was strapping him into his stroller. I smiled and let her know it was ok. Her boy was mean. He hurt my baby for no apparent reason. Behavior that should not be allowed or accepted. In my opinion his mom did the right thing. She was at Ayla's side before Joseph was. She pulled her son aside and she sternly told him that what he did was bad. She removed him from the situation, telling him that if he is mean to people then he doesn't get the reward of playing on the toys. By the time he was strapped in and they were leaving the boy was crying himself. Most likely out of self pity for not being able to play, but maybe eventually he will learn that being mean to others is not ok.
I took Ayla's hand and we walked to the slide. I helped her slide down and we finally had a slight smile. Holding her hand we walked around the giant tree house. As we rounded the corner a little boy jumped out in front of us. Ayla instantly gripped my leg and looked up at me. The little boy said, "Hi, I'm Mason! What's your name!" Directed at Ayla. I said, "Hi Mason, this is Ayla." He responded with, "HI LYA! I betcha can't get me!" And he turned away, running, and laughing hoping that Ayla would follow. She looked at me. I said, "GET HIM!" Her face broke into the biggest smile. She laughed. She ran. She chased Mason around the playground giggling and squealing until it was time to go.
|This is Mason. That is Ayla chasing after him.|
|I'm sorry for the blurriness... He even chased her and look how happy she was!|
The moral of my story? Everywhere we go we will encounter bullies. Sometimes they will even knock us down. As defeating as this can be, we can't forget the good. We can't forget that around the corner there will be a Mason who will encourage us to keep running and keep smiling.
As scary as this world is and as mean as some people seem to be, no matter how much we may highlight the bad, I cannot lose my faith in humanity. As Ayla's example of a woman I need her to know that it's ok to look for the good. To be good we need to surround ourselves in good and when a bully knocks us down we need to get back up and find a Mason. We need to keep our head up, our arms swinging, and keep a smile on our face.
|Even though her feelings were hurt she left smiling!|