We couldn’t walk fast enough from the parking structure to the mall entrance.
He tugged on my hand, his little fingers curled around and squeezing my palm, as he excitedly squealed, “The park, Mommy! The park!”
A cool blast of air rushed past us as the sliding doors automatically opened, presenting the marble floors of the newly remodeled building. Just fifty feet inside, I could see that arriving before the stores opened was a good idea. In just thirty minutes, everyone from angsty teenagers to mothers with young children would be making their way inside for refuge from the warm summer day.
But for now, the mall and it’s indoor playground was empty.
Bright and colorful, the playground’s jungle decor boasts a lion, elephant and giraffe for climbing on, as well as a giant tree slide. The floors are spongy and a long bench wraps it’s way around the entire area. Just outside, there is an empty space for strollers and to the right is a large bathroom facility with toilets made for toddler sized bottoms.
Just past the playground is the coffee shop where I picked up a morning java and Blake an organic vanilla milk.
Blake kicked off his flip flops and took off running before I was able to take my seat. I watched him run around and around and quietly wondered how I could bottle up and sell that energy. He ran, jumped and climbed for about ten minutes before the playground slowly started to fill up with children.
A boy about Blake’s age also took off running before his mother could sit down and of course, Blake started to chase him. Although they were rambunctious, the two boys had a good time chasing and running about the playground.
I was sitting on the bench and enjoying my coffee when I saw Blake tear around a corner. In his way was a blonde boy around the same age and as Blake ran by, he bumped the boy in the shoulder.
It wasn’t intentional.
Blake continued to run after his rowdy sidekick without even a glance while the little blonde boy looked to his mom. Suddenly, he let out a wail. “Mommy! That boy HIT ME!!!”
” I saw that!” his mother said while scooping him up. “That was not nice!”
I sunk into my section of bench as the mother of the little blonde boy carried him off. Was she overreacting? In my opinion, yes.
But that was just the beginning.
Not five minutes later, another mom was consoling her two year old. From what I could hear, he was “hit” by that boy over there.
I didn’t see it happen.
How was I supposed to discipline my child based on hearsay? I couldn’t.
Instead, I moved to a different bench in hopes of keeping a better eye on him. I followed up with a quick reminder: “Blake, we keep our hands to ourselves, okay?”
Blake was behind the giant tree slide when another mother scooped up her crying one year old. I had seen her earlier with him, following his every step with outstretched arms and blocking any child that came within feet of him.
I was watching Blake scramble under the tree slide when she asked me, “Is that your son?”
As I noticed the flat red spot on her son’s forehead, I sheepishly replied, “Yes.”
She was calm, but slightly annoyed. “He just hit my son in the face.”
Have you ever been so mortified that you wish time would stop just long enough for you to run away and hide?
Before I knew it, I was down on the floor with Blake, an irritated mother and a screaming baby. “Blake, that was not nice! Say you’re sorry! We do not hit people.”
He was staring at the floor when I heard his little voice peep, “I sowwwy.”
Now, it was time to go home. There would be no second chances; the next mother may not be as understanding. So, while every.single.parent within earshot of Blake’s screams watched me wrangle him out of the playground, onto the new tile and back through the doors, I swore to myself that I would not be going through that again.
My question to you is: Does your child have one place where he always misbehaves? How do you handle it? Do you consider Blake a bully, or just rambunctious?