So we're back in the dentist office for the 4th time in 2 weeks (and that's a whole 'nother story). Jackson is back getting a filling while I'm sitting with Abie and Levi in the waiting room. Out of nowhere, a kid that is older and meaner than Levi walks up and, without introducing himself or waving or saying hi or anything civil like that, proceeds to whip out a pair of plastic handcuffs from his pocket, grab Levi's hands, and handcuff him. Levi looks at me with pleading eyes but doesn't say anything to the boy. And I'm totally taken aback. Honestly, I wasn't really sure what to do or say. The kid's Dad was sitting 6 feet away watching the whole thing. He looked at me, looked at his kid, and then shrugged his shoulders and chuckled.
Really? Who is your kid, and why is he handcuffing my kid? Who even does that?
Now let's review. The handcuffs are plastic, so there's nothing to worry about. BUT I'm pretty sure my kid is not enjoying what's going on. And suddenly my inner "Momma Bear" awoke.
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Momma Bear. As in I may look cute and cuddly right now, but if you keep messing with my kid, I'm gonna tear your limbs off your body.
With my Momma Bear raging inside, I calmly looked at Levi and said, "Levi, do you like what he is doing to you?" Wide-eyed Levi shook his head. "Okay, then you need to tell him you don't want to play like that." Levi looked over at the kid and mumbled "please stop." To the kid's credit, he probably couldn't understand what Levi said, but he stopped, unhooked his handcuffs from Levi's hands, and went back over to sit with his Dad. But before I could put Abie down and talk to Levi, the kid came over again with handcuffs in hand.
This time, Momma Bear was not to be tamed. I looked at the kid and said, "You may not have heard him, but he said to please stop. So I think it's a good idea for you to go back over and sit with your Dad." The kid looked at me, looked at Levi, and then sauntered back over to his Dad. The Father never took his eyes off his iPhone. Some model parenting going on, obviously.
As soon as we got in the car, Levi and I chatted about being brave and speaking your mind, even if the person is bigger or meaner than you. I'll be transparent here: I never dreamed I would have to explicitly teach this skill of self-advocacy. Pretty sure I came of of the womb making my demands and desires clear to everyone. I've never had a problem telling others what I'm thinking, so I didn't realize this had to be taught. And thinking back, I'm glad we had that experience. It's important that my kids to learn to stick up for themselves before they're in a situation when the stakes are much higher.
PS: When I told Jackson about the incident, his response to the whole thing was, "Mom! Why did you let that kid bother Levi? You should have beat him up. I never woulda let nobody mess with my brother." Wonder how long it will be before I get a call from school saying the big brother has given someone a black eye for bothering the little brother.
PSS: For another story of a brave little learning to advocate for herself, check out this incredible kid-written blog by Ms. Ruby Witt. http://metalmouthinthesouth.blogspot.com/2016/08/ready-or-not.html