Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Self defense (from psychopaths and bullies)

Earlier this week Astrid encountered a small boy at the playground in Montrose. He was standing on the bridge as she was crossing, and as soon as she saw him Astrid stopped and looked coyly at him. It looked like a cute encounter - two little kids looking at each other, too shy to say "hi". Then all of a sudden out of the blue this boy attacked Astrid. He clawed her face and got her right underneath her eye.

I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I immediately shouted, "Stop! Don't touch her!" and scared the boy into backing away from her. But I was underneath the bridge and there was no way I could immediately get to Astrid to protect her. Astrid just stood there in shock looking at the boy with big eyes, scared to death of this kid.

The fastest way to get away from him was to go down the slide, so I told her to hurry and go down the slide. As she was edging towards the slide, this deranged kid attacked her again. I screamed, "Stop! Get away from her!"

As Astrid made it to the slide and was coming down I looked around for the boy's mom. There was a woman standing off in the distance on the grass on her cell phone, but she didn't even look my way so I thought it couldn't be her. This predator kid was roaming the playground unsupervised.

Astrid had red marks on her cheeks from the boy's nails that had clawed her face, and she was really scared. I had told the boy to keep his hands to himself, but rather than drag him around and look for his mom who was no where to be found, I wanted to focus on Astrid - making sure she was okay after this traumatic experience, so we went for a walk.

Traumatized she just kept talking about the boy and how he hurt her. "Boy hurt me." She was afraid of every kid who approached her after that. I tried to reassure her that no one was going to hurt her and most kids were nice, but that was just a bad boy.

Astrid was traumatized and so was I. I have never encountered such a disturbed kid like that who would attack another kid for no reason. And I felt so bad for Astrid. She had just stood there and let him attack her, without defending herself. I felt it was my fault that I never taught her self defense. I was so focused on teaching her how to be a polite, respectful, little girl and didn't think that I was also teaching her to be a docile victim. And that made me even more mad that another mom would raise a predator and let him roam the playground attacking other children. So I went back to the playground.

I spotted the kid immediately. And guess what? He was attacking another child. This time his victim was an older boy, so when he clawed this boy's sleeved arm, he didn't flinch. I saw a woman standing nearby watching (the same lady I saw standing on the grass). I asked her, "Is that your son over there?" And when she said "Yes" my first thought was - how could she ignore the commotion when he was attacking Astrid? She must have heard, but she didn't even respond. What kind of parent does that? When I told her that her son attacked my daughter and she was terrified of him - she just said, "Oh sorry", shrugged and turned her back to me. I had no doubts that she had heard this many times before.

So when we got home I practiced with Astrid to shout, "No!" when anyone approached her and tried to hurt her and to protect herself and run away. We practiced over and over again. Each time when I'd pretend to attack her and asked, "What do you say?" She'd say "thank you" or "please". It just broke my heart to see/hear that.

She's a timid kid to begin with and with her starting preschool soon it's important that she get over her fear of boys and learn to protect herself when I'm not around. Hopefully she'll never have to, but it makes me rethink enrolling her in a Karate class or something to learn self defense and how to be forceful and kick some butt if necessary. In the meantime we're going to avoid Montrose park. Not only because Astrid is terrified of going back there, but also if I see that kid again, I'm liable to go ballistic on his mom.

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