Thursday, August 16, 2012

Baby bully?

Is it wrong to dislike a three year old? Probably, huh? Because I really, really dislike one in particular, and I feel awful about it.

I know the kid is not a bully necessarily – three years old is probably too young to have that heavy label – but he’s super aggressive and kind of mean.

Let me back up a bit.

It’s been difficult for Quinn to get comfortable in the child care room at the gym. I tried several times to leave him in there for just thirty minutes so I could get a quick workout in, but he cried the whole time. After twenty minutes (or less), one of the care givers always came to find me. I’d find Q bawling his head off with fat tears running down his cheeks. This frustrating and heartbreaking scenario just got to be too much.

So I decided to stay in there with him a few times. The care givers were cool with it, so every day for a week, Quinn and I would go to the gym and just hang out in the child care room. I’d sit on the sidelines as much as Q would let me. He got to know the care givers and some of the other regular kids. He quickly attached himself to some new favorite toys, including a huge box of trains. By the third day, Quinn barely noticed I was in the room and I got in a quick workout without incident.

On the fourth day, I stayed with Quinn for a few minutes, but I intended to leave for another short workout. Another mom was dropping off her brood of three at the same time. Her oldest, a very sweet seven year old girl, took her role as a “little mommy” to her younger brothers (ages five and three) very seriously. The girl quickly adopted Quinn, too, and started playing trains with him. The whole scene was pretty cute.

Then suddenly the three year old – let’s call him Aiden because I think that’s actually his name – screamed at the top of his lungs. Apparently, he wanted to watch something other than what was on the television, and that was reason enough for him to screech like a dying animal. Quinn has never been a huge fan of loud, sudden noises, and he gets really freaked out. This was no exception.

Quinn began to cry, so I picked him up and tried to console him. The older sister came over to apologize. “He does that at home all the time,” she reported, rolling her eyes. Aiden quickly figured out that his screams made Quinn cry, and he took delight in this new found power. He came over to us, put his face a couple inches from Quinn’s... and screamed even louder.

Quinn. Lost. His. Shit. 

It took a long time to distract Aiden with an activity other than traumatizing babies, and even longer to calm Quinn down. After a while, I finally left the room and tried to workout, but I was too worried about Q. So after a half hour, I went back to get him, and the care giver said everything was fine after I left.

I exhaled with relief, but I secretly hoped we’d never see that monster kid again.

And we didn’t for a long time. Until this past Monday.

My heart sank when the three of them marched into the child care room, single file, with the little girl in the lead. Quinn’s been doing so well in there since that incident. I can usually workout for an hour before it gets too close to lunch/nap time and Q starts to get cranky. But when Aiden the Screamer came strolling in, I knew I wouldn’t get that much time.

Sure enough, less than a half hour later, the care giver flagged me down. “I think Quinn just needs a diaper change,” she said.

She was right. Q did have smelly situation going on, but that wasn’t the cause of his distress. I scooped him up, and the Little Mommy gave up the real story. “My brother screamed again,” she said. “I’m really sorry.” The care giver gave me an apologetic look.

I feel terrible for despising that little kid so much, but this Mama Bear is fierce. I will protect Q from anything and everything, including three year old bullies. I know “bully” is a strong word, but he’s not just a Screamer. He’s also a Toy Taker, a Hitter, a Kicker, a Steal-Your-Crayon-and-Color-All-Over-Your-Picture-er. So “bully” just seems like an appropriate catch-all.

I’m probably over-reacting, and this is just a phase Aiden is going through. I mean, he’s three for crying old loud. A lot of three year olds act like this. It certainly doesn’t make him a bad kid, it just makes him a kid. He’ll more than likely grow out of it and not become the school yard bully at all. And who knows? Maybe Quinn will act the exact same way in a couple years. (Oh, please no... Praying, knocking on wood, crossing fingers…)

But right now, I don’t like that punk kid. 

Right now, Aiden is a little asshole. 

Right now, I don’t want to leave Quinn in the same room with him.

I feel like an awful parent, willingly subjecting my child to that kind of torment just so I can exercise. I’m worried that Quinn will associate the child care room with negative feelings and he’ll start hating to be in there again, even when Aiden isn’t there.

But if I pull Q out, he’s not getting as much socialization and I’ll never get to workout and I will have this icky mom bod forever. And if it’s not Aiden, it will be another kid. There will always be that kid.

I know I can’t protect Quinn from that kid forever, but I can right now.

What would you do?

We’re going on a family vacation in the mountains this weekend. I would be surprised if anyone in this little town has ever heard of “4G,” so I don’t expect to get data on my phone. I’ll reply to all comments as soon as we return. You’ll hear about our mountain adventures in the QWA, which will be on Tuesday next week. Have a great weekend, friends!