Wednesday, April 11, 2007

nobody puts baby in the corner

I picked M up from daycare the other day and her teacher took me aside. There's a bit of an issue, she said. M's friend K has been expressing her love for M in inappropriate ways. But not to worry, we are working on it.

I always appreciate the way the mighty women of daycare try and handle me. I understand it completely; they never know which parent is going to go ballistic over what issue. Careful dancing and prancing with Positive Adjectives is important. I get it. I don't need it, but I get it.

It turns out that M and K have started spending a lot of time together, and K is a martial arts karate chopping hair pulling death stomping little girl. And she's showing her love for M in all kinds of ways. In fact, I am gazing out into the group of kids while the teacher is talking to me and I see K grab M by the hair and take her down.

Ouch.

M starts crying, sees me, and cries some more. I thought she did an especially nice job of throwing herself in my arms in hysterics. Nice touch, baby. Way to drive the point home.

So My Inside Voice says keep that kid the hell away from M or there won't be a lot of Positive Adjectives in my future. See, M doesn't hit. We have a philosophy of kindess in our home and I've worked hard at this (stop laughing. It's my fantasy world and I am still living in it). My Outside Voice says all the appropriate things about developmental changes and toddler interactions and of course, group love. You know the bullshit I speak of.

M and I are driving home and I ask her about K. She tells me that K hits and pulls her hair and it makes her sad. I asked her what she does when it happens and she said I cry, mommy. Ok, I think, baby's done crying. Baby's going on defense.

So M and I talk about how precious and powerful and amazing she is, and about how she has every right to stand up for herself if she's being hurt. And how it doesn't matter who is hurting her, she has the right to tell them to stop, but she should use her words instead of hitting or pushing back (remember, I have a PHILOSOPHY, people). So we practiced yelling STOP! at the top of our lungs and M was laughing hysterically and screeching NO, K! STOP! all the way home. When we got home we talked to J about it and he reinforced what we'd talked about and we all practiced yelling a few more STOPS! Our neighbors probably thought we were nuts, or at the very least a bit afraid.

The next day I picked M up from school and one of her teachers said Wow, M really stuck up for herself today. Whenever K tried to pull her hair, she would hold her hand in front of her and yell STOP, K, NO! She was never aggressive, but she sure held her ground, and it worked out really well. My Outside Voice said all the appropriate things. My Inside Voice was cheering her ass off.

We celebrated the whole way home. See, mum, I am trying to raise a warrior in training, too.

And for other M related news, check out my latest review. It's all about diapers, the agony and the ecstasy both.

52 comments:

Cristi said...

Thankfully, your little girl found out early that her voice can be heard. Awesome. Much better than the "bully the bully" approach.

QT said...

I just spent several hours driving home from in a snowstorm and I was all -gotta go to bed, well, maybe I'll just see what's going on in blog world.

I laughed out loud - I love M for sticking up for herself, I can just see her holding her hand out! You done good, mamma!

Kyla said...

Way to go, M! And kudos to you Jen and J for teaching her to protect herself. My Inside Voice is cheering for you all.

urban-urchin said...

Good girl (both of you)! Anyone messes with my babies and the Mama Tiger in me comes out. It's all I can do to keep my cool and realize they have to learn to handle their own boundaries.

KC said...

Hooray! So proud of M.

What a great mommy you are. I will have to keep this in mind, although hopefully Jolie won't be the karate-chopping, sumo-sitting child.

venessa said...

That's awesome that M stood up for herself non-violently.

My oldest was being teased in Kindergarten and was quite upset. I taught her to smile and say something really nice to this little boy. ("Dante, I really like your shoes...") Of course, she's too little to understand the whole kill em' with kindness method, but she did it and he hasn't teased her since! (He's quite smitten with her actually. I think he just wanted a friend.)

I try to be careful about this though. Too many women are raised to be quiet and sweet and undemanding and polite to a fault. I want her to have a voice (and a good strong kick) when she needs it.

Em said...

YAY!

crazymumma said...

I've got some big red boxing gloves I can lend her.

We had the same philosophy for bigirl. But she is a kinder gentler ken than she should be for this mean ole' world. We sort of wish we had taught her to be a bit I hate to say it....mean. But she is not. I remember back when she was in JK, a mum of 4 telling me, "I tell my kids to hit 'em twice as hard as they were hit and they will never get hit again".

Brutal yes. But a brand of thinking that mr mumma and I let seep into our strategic coaching of the girls.

You may not know it yet, but the schoolyard is fast and cruel. And now we teach them that yes words are best but SOMETIMES a well placed physical defense is the best defense indeed.

All that being said....bigirl would never lash out at anyone (a shame really cause there are some that wholly deserve a whuppin'...) but she talks and talk and talks until she grinds people down with her peaceful activism.
I too am proud of M.

Now if you just send me your address I'll get the boxing gloves AND you cd to you.

xo crazier every day

liv said...

You are awesome. My child is the one who is getting the "no, stop!" business from children he "loves" at school. at least I have a neurological disorder to blame. it can't be my bad parenting!

slouching mom said...

what i think is amazing about this story is how quickly and appropriately m put into action your advice -- she's a smart cookie, that one.

yay for her.

Laurie said...

What a great post, Jen. You are obviously an awesome parent and you are teaching your child wonderful things.

NotSoSage said...

So good! Yay M!

We've been teaching Mme L sign language the whole way through and so we've been trying to reinforce that if she needs to use her hands for something, she can use them to sign, "NO! Thank you."

I don't know why, but it reminds me of my mother telling me that the best advice she was given when she went to university was to reject offers to join a sorority with "Fuck off, angel."

s@bd said...

brilliant, my dear.

have some chocolate or wine, OR BOTH.

meno said...

It's nice that this worked. Otherwise we would have had to cut a bitch!

flutter said...

I love your kid, seriously.

deb said...

I have a very vivid mental picture of a little girl holding up her hand and yelling stop! Way to go.

Julie Pippert said...

Way to go!

We do the exact same thing here. In fact, only today Persistence was telling me about her best friend hitting her. I asked what she did, and she replied, "I tell him, NO! Not hit MY BODY! Mean! Go 'way! 'Til can be nice!" All with hand held up in stop position. :)

It has served us well. :)

Except one case, which required extra measure, but that was a unique and special case and is all settled now.

There is no better message than what you just gave her.

carrie said...

Horray for M sticking up for herself.

And horray for you and J teaching her the right way to do it!

You rock.

Carrie

Z said...

What an idiot the teacher is. "Expressing her love for M in inappropriate ways." Silly cow, why didn't she put a stop to it? Let's hope you have taught the teachers something here as well as M.

Susanne said...

Marvelous strategy, yeah for M and her mother!

acumamakiki said...

This is a great story. And if it's a fantasy world to teach your child kindness than we're living in your village because that's the motto here too. A was pummeled and smacked down by a gang of 2 (she was the 3rd) in preschool and we had a lot of talks about how hands and also words hurt (they'd call her a crybaby). Nowadays, A will just walk away from the mean kids and go find someone else to play with and no tears!

cce said...

I loved that the calm assertive thing works for preschoolers as well as dogs...Thanks Cesar Milan The Dog Whisperer, you know you're stuff.
I was trying to explain the peaceful demonstration to my son when My Better Half chimed in to correct me, "Well, actually, hitting is okay too sometimes." And then he turned and whispered to me, "You're teaching him to be a wuss." I sat the better half down in front of The Dog Whisperer and told him to watch, to learn, to glean wisdom because the alpha dog doesn't hit or bite, he just emanates quiet power. Sounds like your M has that method down pat. Without the quiet, but one can't have everything.

Tabba said...

Good for you.
Good for M.

Your philosophy is comendable if anything. Certainly not laughable. (in my little opinion, anyway).

Through much trial and error, the basic thing I've come to understand that hitting or any physical *whatever* doesn't teach appropriate tactics or behavior.
And what you did & how you handled it?
Certainly does.
You done damn good!

kgirl said...

You're awesome. M is awesome. Give her a high five for me.

We have much the same philosophy around here, emphasizing empathy, and how our actions make people feel. If Bee is rough with another child or makes them feel sad, she immediately goes over, says sorry, and administers a big hug.

She's not even two, but she gets it. So it burns me up when other parents don't expect or teach the same to their children.

Way to go, you.

cinnamon gurl said...

Ooh, good job, both of you!

And way to bring a dirty dancing quote to the title.

I'm filing this away for the future... hopefully I can remember where I put it. ;)

kim said...

That is so awesome! by the way I forgot to comment on the post with pictures of her---she's adorable.

Andrea said...

Yay M! I'm so proud of her.

Mrs. Chicky said...

To you and M I say Bravo! The power of the voice is stronger than laying the smack down any day.

sober briquette said...

Perfect. Just in time for me. Last week was the first time I had Enzo around boys his age, and I just watched, mouth agape, as one boy bullied him and then as he gave another boy a bear hug. Wake up, Mom, you're supposed to DO something here.

Beck said...

Good stuff. WE went through the same thing with quiet preschooler girl and had to teach her to yell NOOOO! very loudly when needed. So far, so good.

Thailand Gal said...

I knew she was a smart kid! You guided her, she listened and followed through! Excellent :)


Peace,

~chani

karrie said...

I love how you captured the dance of the caregivers. Those odd comments really threw me for a loop when my son first started attending nursery school.

My M is a bull in a china shop though. He sometimes hurts other kids unintentionally--hugs too hard, flops down in their laps, etc.

I could send him over to teach your M his favorite new saying "Stop it. I'm so not in the mood." (Usually used against me and not peers.)

Gwen said...

I loved this post: the way you communicated what you believe without taking yourself too seriously. Absolutely fabulous.

And now, please come to my house and work your magic on my two angels because we try this same thing, we do, since I believe pretty much exactly what you believe, and instead of instant success, I have a grouchy scowler and a passive child who takes in everything until she finally explodes with, "I hate you!" I think I need some of your child whispering.

Redneck Mommy said...

I tell my kids daily that words have power.

Much more strength in the word STOP than kicking a shin and running away crying.

What a smart little chicka you have.

Well done!

Mad Hatter said...

I agree with everyone that your approach is fantastic BUT I keep getting stuck on the fact that YOU HAVE A TODDLER THAT LISTENS TO WHAT YOU SAY. Dearest, you are a lucky bugger indeed.

mamatulip said...

Nicely done. I think I'll try this with Julia, because Oliver sounds a lot like K. He just loves so hard sometimes, you know?

Bon said...

my god, you're a beautiful parent. i needed to know that 'the philosophy' can work...because i want to believe it can, but hell, what do i know, my kid isn't one yet.

i'm so happy it did for M, and so happy it did for your Inside Voice too...and mine. ;)

ECR said...

That is FANTASTIC! I am so glad I have blogging mamas like you, with kids just a little older than mine, to learn from. I am going to remember this one. I hope my daughter is as receptive and fast-acting as M.

Penny. said...

Perfect, Jen. You are great. And, I love your philosophies.

This post reminded me, immediately, of this incident:
http://superkittyjumpsoff.blogspot.com/2005/01/easy-does-it.html

My first taste of what you speak.

Nancy said...

Good for M. And for her momma for teaching her so well! We've had to practice the same thing with Mimi. She's a sensitive thing and the least little slight will start her crying. We've taught her to stick up for herself and tell the person tormenting her, "NO, [name of kid]! I DON'T like that!!"

I have a feeling we won't have the same issue with Rosie -- she makes her feelings known. :-)

The Atavist said...

Bullies need to be stopped. I'm glad that your approach worked. No child deserves to be picked on.

Hel said...

In my next life I want you to be my mother, or even better my sister.

kalki said...

Hi, I came here from Kristen's place. I don't know you, but the beauty that came through in this post brought tears to my eyes. Well done, mama.

Momish said...

That is awesome, you must be so proud. Of M and yourself. I will keep this in mind when the time comes for Piper to deal with a bully.

Oh, The Joys said...

Massive, massive high fives. (and stealing it - totally.)(We don't hit either.)(Though Roo bites.)

Anjali said...

I am so proud of the both of you! And if my girls ever deal with this issue, I'm going to teach them the same method.

christina said...

I love this. It's good that you teach her others ways of defense instead of kicking in the groin area. Later on, she may need to learn that one too.

Mrs. Chicken said...

Love it! The Poo does the same thing. I love a little righteous toddler indignation!

Pgoodness said...

Woohoo! Go M!!!!! (And good for you teaching her about the strength of words, especially NO.)

radioactive girl said...

I love the way you are teaching her to be. You are such a good mom!

Little Monkies said...

Fantastic! We have the same perspective on hitting and aggression. And (kind) Warrior girls rock.

This has nothing to do with M, but I heard a quote today that I thought you'd like:

"Bullets don't kill ideas."

It was in reference to the futility of the war on terror and the US involvement in Iraq. For some reason reading your post made me think of it.

Best,

LM.

Lawyer Mama said...

Good for you! And good for M! Our 2 year old also has a daycare nemesis, so we taught him "stop it!" and it's now his favorite phrase. Of course, he also uses it on me and T. An unintended consequence...