Yesterday was one of those days where I should have stayed in bed!
It was park day with the homeschool group we belong (belonged) to, so we headed out ready to play and have some fun. Now there are some older boys who, from the beginning, have excluded Binky, and only Binky, from their games. These boys are between the ages of 10 and 13. Their parents are the founders of this group. Binky is always drawn to older kids. So he immediately tried to join their battle games when we joined the group. Well they made it clear they didn't want to include him, except for when they decided they needed a prisoner or someone to taunt. This really hurt Binky's feelings... and mine!:( Now Binky's friends were allowed to join in these games, which was even more upsetting to him. Anyway... as we arrived at the park, I told Binky to just stay away from the older boys. He agreed. Finally a friend showed up! So Binky and friend ran off to play. An hour or so later, Goose and her friend came over to tell me that the older boys were threatening them with their large foam swords, a dart gun, and a metal baseball bat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now these boys were in their game of soldiers and think that all the other kids are too. Goose told them to go away, but they persisted. So she stood up and told them that she would defend herself if they didn't leave!(That's my girl!) Well, they decided to go away. Now these boys are only "playing" as their parents would put it, but Goose and her friend were not a part of that game, nor did they ever suggest that they were. I suggested the girls play somewhere away from the boys and closer to me. Now at this point I am upset but this has become a regular thing at these park days. This community of homeschoolers seems to feel that all the other kids in this group have to put up with this behavior from the older boys. This is the realization I have come to after months of trying to fit into this group. So as I am sitting there, keeping my eyes on the kids, I have this vision in my mind of Binky and an older kid getting into a physical altercation. At that moment Binky and his friend were having fun playing together, so I brushed that vision out of my head.
Another hour goes by and Binky and his friend are still playing together but are heading over towards the older boys. To try and make the story shorter, Binky sees the older boys throwing pinecones at his friend so he heads towards them to help his friend escape, not realizing that his friend has joined their game. The older boys head down the hill and Binky and friend follow. Binky is still unaware that friend has joined the older boys' game. One of the older boys violently grabs Binky to make him one of their prisoners! Now Binky feels totally threatened! He has never been allowed to play with these kids, he saw them pummeling his friend with pinecones and now one of them is physically hurting him! So Binky started yelling "Let go!" and then hitting this kid with his fists to get him to let go of him. The older boy eventually lets go, starts hitting Binky with his fists, so Binky starts hitting back! I can't believe this is happening! I am already running over there, screaming for them to stop! Okay... this kid is twice the size of my kid and almost twice his age!!!!!! There were at least three other older boys standing there just watching! Not one of them intervened! A few minutes later the older boy's mom comes over and asks what has happened. Her son is crying and my son is standing there in shock. ALL the older boys were standing there in shock. NO one in this group has ever stood up to these boys. So we say our sorrys, they say their sorrys and we part ways. Binky and I head over to our picnic table and he tells me everything that happened. We have the "violence is not the answer" conversation. We have the "what could you have done better" conversation. We have hugs and kisses and a snack. Binky and his friend have a conversation about what happened and then run off and play ball.
So now I am replaying everything in my head. I saw the entire thing and I saw the fear in Binky's face when that kid grabbed him. He was physically threatened. Seeing that happen to your kid and seeing the look on his face is horrifying! After what happened earlier to Goose and her friend with these boys, I was coming to the realization that these kids were bullies... there was no other way of putting it. They walk around the playground like soldiers and taunt and threaten all the other kids, regardless if they are a part of their "game" or not. This is how it is every single time we come. And the philosophy of this group is to let the kids work out their own problems. That weapons "play" is acceptable even when the other kids do not want to join in.
While I was packing up our stuff I had two conversations with moms from this group who told me this is "how it is" with this group. They told me the older boys have always been doing this and their parents allow it. They also tell me that the group seems to be branching off into different directions because newer members are never able to really fit in with the core group. Yeah, no kidding!
I cannot be a part of a group where bullying is accepted. Period.
I have been up since 3am because I can't get those horrific visions out of my head.
I am in shock over the realization that this group of people are raising their kids to be bullies. This is not something one would expect from such a group.
I am sad at what happened to Binky, physically and emotionally. I am heartbroken.
Today we will have more conversations about what happened. I think some artwork over the next few days will help as well.