Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pint-Sized Bullies and Adult-Sized Problems

I am an adult.  Emotional maturity aside, the aforementioned statement should be a bit of a no-brainer.  I mean, I don’t even get carded by doggone cashiers anymore...couldn’t at least one of them feel charitable on occasion?

I digress.

No, in spite of the fact that I have turned 29 more than twice, there are some circumstances where I have to stop myself and tell myself that I am a grown-up.  I am the tall person in the room.  I should know better. 

What in the hell am I talking about?  Bullies.

We’ve all dealt with them on some playground at some point in our lives.  Childhood bullies.  I don’t remember everything about growing up, but I can remember with crystal clarity the moments I came into the crosshairs of the playground tormenters of my youth.  In kindergarten, one charming young lady conducted a “label check” of our clothes during recess.  The elementary school il Duce would line us up like her little regiment and inspect the tags on our clothes to make sure that we were clad in the style appropriate to orbit her sun.

I hesitate to even delve into the trauma of riding the school bus to junior high, but suffice it to say that I was spit on, kicked, had my hair pulled relentlessly and my homework was thrown out the window on more than one occasion.  I can happily report that I had the pleasure of cross-examining the poop out of the main tormentor in the hell that was my school bus travels when I defended a criminal matter several years ago and I thoroughly enjoyed every last minute of it.

The sad thing is that my childhood bully experience wasn’t even above average—there are folks that deal with much, much, much worse.  Still, any amount of bullying leaves a sensitive spot on the soul and even the mere thought of your own child going through something similar...well, it makes you have to remind yourself that you are the adult.

Biters.  Every parent deals with it—whether or not their children are the biters or the “bitees.”  Thank heavens that my children aren’t biters.  Unfortunately, they are magically delicious.

I remember the first time Baby Belle 1 got gnawed on by a classmate.  I was a novice to child care center “bite protocol” at the time.  When I arrived to take my child home, there was a little paper notice in Baby Belle 1’s cubby that informed me that my child had been bitten by an unknown assailant.  Frankly, I was a little nonplussed at the idea that I wasn’t entitled to the name of “Jaws.”  What if the kid had rabies or something?

Baby Belle 1 was way too young to submit to questioning (she had barely mastered “Mama,” “Daddy” and “banana” at the time) and I was at a loss.  I even considered measuring the bite radius of the wound and specific tooth markings with the intent of furtively checking all of the little jack ‘o lantern mouths in the class, but my irritatingly logical and level headed husband gently suggested that the methods to which I was stooping might be the exact reason the name of the biter wasn’t released.  I hate it when he does that.

Baby Belle 1 is such a sensitive little soul, but Baby Belle 2—while a true delight on most occasions—has her mama’s temper.  I must confess that when my husband brought her home one day and said that there had been a biting incident, I held my breath and nearly deflated in relief when he told me that she wasn’t the biter.  Before you go and doubt my motherly devotion, Scott confessed to me that he did the exact same thing. 

Baby Belle 2 is apparently extra tasty—like rare white truffle tasty.  The poor little pumpkin has played the role of the substitute teething ring on at least three separate occasions.  Just recently, there was an unprovoked and brutal assault upon her bicep.  I managed the first two incidents with laudable aplomb, but I confess that the last incident sent me back to detective school.  I am a work in progress.

I’m not the only one.  One of the things that helps me remember that I am the grown-up is when I have to remind others.  Take the Baby Belles’ Uncle Ethan for example.  He is the most awesome uncle ever and one of the attributes of his awesomeness comes in the form of The Great Protector.  No one, no one messes with his little Puddins (as he calls them.)

The first time Baby Belle 1 was bitten, Uncle Ethan patrolled her class for a couple of days in the hope of finding any plausible suspects.  What was he going to do if he found the little piranha?  I certainly don’t know and I don’t really think that he did either.

When Baby Belle 1 was about 18 months old, we attended an outdoor wedding.  Those of you with small and restless children will understand why we decided to stand up in the back.  Baby Belle 1 was actually behaving quite well as she quietly contemplated a butterfly while standing on a hill.  Out of nowhere, a pair seriously creepy little twins (think The Shining and compound it) came up behind Baby Belle 1 and pushed her down the hill.

My little punkin’ was unpleasantly surprised, but Uncle Ethan was deeply displeased.  While the couple declared their love at the altar, I was hanging onto Ethan’s hand and quietly but desperately chanting “you’retheadultyou’retheadultyou’eadult” as he stalked toward the wee offenders. 

I’m the adult, dammit.

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