Playground Hooligans: What Would You Do?

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Yesterday I went to watch a baseball game with my best friend to see her son play, and because we were with a four-year-old and a soon to be four-year-old, I had the opportunity to watch maybe one inning. The park by the field was way too enticing for our other children and all they wanted to do was play. I volunteered to take them, I’m not going to lie, I wanted the opportunity to check twitter, and write a few notes for my blog. As soon as we arrived at the park there were two boys horsing around with some girls that were sitting under the monkey bars playing house, the girls ages ranged from four to ten. It was the classic let’s bother the girls, try-to-impress-them innocent teasing.

I shut down twitter, saved my notes and became Gladys Kravitz when I heard the boys using every curse word ever invented, including the forbidden C word. The boys were relentless. One boy started to brag that he had been cursing since he was five. A spunky little girl of about nine quickly responded that she didn’t think that was cool at all. It made me proud, I mumbled to myself “good girl!”. My boys were oblivious as to what was going on, but I certainly was not. As the boys continued to disrespect the girls with more disgusting terminology and some very inappropriate gestures (things I’ve never even seen or heard, and I don’t fancy myself a prude), I started to get as mad as a bull in a ring. It was obvious that the girls were getting upset. During this exchange I learned that the boys were seven and nine, I was flabbergasted that boys of this age would know such rude words. When the seven year old asked the girls if they knew what the word Twat was I could not believe my ears. It was at this very moment that I couldn’t hold back, steam was coming from every orifice of my body much like Elmer Fudd. I was mad that these five girls had to be subjected to this. Hell, I was mad that I, my sons, and my friend’s son were subjected to this. Whether the boys knew that they were treating the girls with such disrespect was unclear, all I knew that I didn’t like it one bit. I wasn’t sure if it was my place to step in or not. Who the hell am I to teach anybody but my own children a lesson? But for me it was impossible NOT to step in. I knew the risk that I was about to take, by not minding my own business I was about to open up a can of worms – a potential confrontation with the boy’s parents, guardians, hell big brothers. But I took the leap based on the foundation I grew up with: respect everyone as individuals, treat everyone with kindness, stick up for someone when they can’t stick up for themselves, and don’t take any wooden nickels.

After I heard the boy spew the “T” word, I popped up from my bench like an over wound jack-in-the-box and got on my own soapbox. With authority I said “Excuse me boys, but the language you are using is inappropriate and I’d like you to stop. It’s disrespectful to me, to these girls and my children. I know you are nice boys, right, you’re nice boys?” they boys said very faintly “yes” “and I don’t think your mom, dad, grandma would like to know the words that you are using.” The nine year old went and hid behind a slide but the seven year old piped up and “my mom uses that word”, I responded with “I don’t care about the words that your mom uses, the words that you have said are disgusting, rude and disrespectful. Is your mom here? Would you like me to tell her what you said?” The seven year old responded with “my mom’s not here” in which I replied “Well, you’re here with someone, does anyone know who he‘s here with?” one girl off to the side, a teenager of about 14 said “Yes but I don’t want to get involved.” I said “That’s okay, I’ll find out.” I marched off the playground, grabbed my children and headed to the field. I had no idea what I was going to do, there was no way that I was going to ask every parent at the baseball field if this was their child or not- all I hoped was that I scared them enough to stop the use of those words, it ended at the park and that there would be no other confrontations.

Within a few minutes at the field I was relaying to my best friend what happened, flabbergasted at the words and gestures they boys were using. We could over hear someone relaying this same exact story, but also heard them say “the one in the black shirt” (yep that was me) I braced myself for a confrontation, hunched my shoulders and turned around. A woman said from her seat, “Thank you, this is my best friend’s son and his mouth is atrocious. I am not sure where he gets it from, but I’ll be speaking to his mother. This has actually made my life a little easier.” I can only assume that this was an ongoing issue, and I was the perfect scapegoat for her to finally approach her friend about this subject.

About half an hour later the boys wanted to go back to the park, I obliged. The same girls were there, playing nicely and uninterrupted. One little girl came up to me and said “Thank you, they had to apologize to me and my parents”. I smiled and said, “I’m happy to hear that”.

I confidently walked to the bench and smiled, feeling much like a superhero that did their job. I sat down and started typing away. I couldn’t miss the opportunity for a great blog!

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