I was rarely picked-on as a child on the playground. I have 4 older brothers, 3 younger brothers and one older sister who handled all the teasing and mocking of me when I was a kid. All of the other kids in the neighborhood or at school also knew that I had all of those brothers and my sister (who they feared the most) so they knew that if they messed with me they were going to take on the whole family. So I was rarely teased, bullied or taunted and if I was, I had a tough skin due to the teasing and taunting of my family.
I never really experienced any of the emotions that go along with being the outsider who is ridiculed, until yesterday.
I took Maxfield to the playground and he was perfectly content to swing by himself as a group of kids played across the way, on the huge plastic play area. The other kids were screaming and carrying on running from one of the fathers, who was acting like a monster. He would raise his hands above his head and moan and the kids would scream “monster” and they would all run away. Eventually the father left and the kids no longer had anyone to run away from.
Maxfield and I made our way over the plastic play area, and he proceeded to climb the plastic and metal poles and pipes and walls and would slide down the spiral slides. I was teaching Max the art of sliding down the slide and using the static charge build up to shock me, when the leader of the group of other kids, a five year old Dora wanna-be girl ran up to Max, pointed and yelled “Monster.” All the other kids screamed and ran away from Max.
Max was somewhat intrigued by the other kids but did not actively chase them. He continued with the slide and shock game we were playing. Again, Dora ran up to him with the other kids right behind her and yelled “Monster”. They all screamed and ran away. This continued for several minutes until Max decided to try and play with the pack of screamers. Every time he got close to one the kids they screamed “monster” and ran away.
I tried to watch Maxfield closely, to see if the kids running from him had any affect but he seemed to just shrug them off and continued to play by him self. I however, felt heartbroken for Max. I was getting mad but I knew the kids were just playing. I told Max he was not a monster and not to be bothered by the other kids. I couldn’t help but say “bitch” under my breath every time Dora ran up to him and screamed. I couldn’t believe how much anger I had towards this five-year-old girl. She was just playing. Just having fun. But there was certain way that Dora said monster that was not fun. It was mean.
I physically shook the bad thoughts from my head and focused on Max to see how he would continue to handle the situation. Max went back down the slide and waited for me to reach out so he could shock me when a few of the kids ran up to him. Just as a little boy was about to yell “monster” Max reach out and touched his hand and shocked him. The kid looked stunned and ran away and his friends followed.
I couldn't help but feel proud of my son at that moment.