Monday, May 03, 2010

Gang War

Pattu faced her first gang war a few weeks back. I witnessed some interesting group dynamics and thought I should share it here. I've tried my best to stick to just 'reporting' the incident. I want your thoughts on it...

Gang Profile: 12 or so 4 - 8 yr olds
Venue: kids' playground
Situation: Both swings were occupied and Pattu wanted to have the swing. She asked H (Girl) if she can play on the swing and when H didn't budge she insisted. H left (a bit cross) and joined S (Boy) on the other swing but Pattu wanted H to share the swing with her. H was miffed with Pattu and hence refused.
H prods S and both shout, 'Pattu bad girl...Pattu bad girl' - Pattu is upset but controls tears.
Some random 6 kids (all boys) big and small gather around Pattu and join the chorus. One boy (8 yr old) looks on, not approving what the other boys are doing (he gives them an angry look) but doesn't say anything. Pattu breaks down. Teasing grows louder accompanied by some sniggers in between.
Pattu HOWLS! Comes and hugs me. I just hold her.

Suddenly we hear, 'Pattu Good Girl' chorus from a bunch of girls in another corner of the playground.
Boy band disperse quietly. Some from that group take Pattu to play with them. Pattu still crying and angry allows herself to be led away and becomes interested in their game (which involved getting her hands dirty in the sand and the likes). Couple of older girls continue to appreciate and thank Pattu (and quite spontaneously, not making much ado about it) for helping them with various tasks (they were building a mountain, temple, etc). Pattu Happy.

S comes to Pattu after sometime and says, 'You are a good girl only ok...'
Pattu looks at him with a blank expression - just for a second and carries on. S stares after her and moves on.

What's your take?


utbtkids said...

Children are awesome.
They are resilient, much stronger than we give them credit for.
They are naturally compassionate.
They move on.

It is a pity that we are not able to let them carry on like they way they are born.

And you did not jump in to defend your daughter and let her sort it out. Kudos! I am walking a fine line where the parent-teacher boundary often gets mixed. I am sure I would have intervened :(

Jayashree said...

It takes a strong mother to not butt in and ask the other kids to give it a rest.
These things happen all the time and there's nothing we can do about it....with time, kids learn to handle it.

Momo's Ma said...

wow. thats awesome behaviour from pattu n from u mommy too. i dont think i could have stopped myself from intervening. great goign pattu. u sure seem like a balanced girl.

A journey called Life said...

first Pattu- holds back tears inspite of being teased and only as a final resort comes to u- very commendable.. i love her reaction (so there is something very valuable u have imparted to her).

Second- like the others mention, you did not step in. Plus you did not launch into some gyan giving right then and there and just hugged her- another plus..(IMO)

You let her handle the situation, you comforted her and then the situation went on to being normal (only kids are capable of this) so all in all well handled.

Special mention to S as well, who comes back to correct his earlier folly.Did the 8 year old boy who shot disapproving glances at the jeering group have anything to do with the change in stance? if yes then he deserves a pat on the back to, as do the girls who were making the sand stuff..

Hema said...

All children seemed to have behaved as they should have. Live for the moment. And nice to know that they sorted it out on their own. Special mention to Pattu for controlling her tears like that. Like everyone else have said... you did a good job by not intervening. I don't know what I'd do...Sounds scary enough:)

Lavanya Sriram said...

Awesome! kids are ! This is an everyday happening and you and Pattu handled it so well ! I will surely keep this in mind for my turn !

As everyone else aid, Pattu did excellent and so did you !
S does deserve a special mention as he had it in him to correct his ways and come back and talk to Pattu !

How I wish adults could also be like kids and then we would have so much less problems to sort out !

Swati said...

Pattu brave girl is my take :) She handled it well :)

artnavy said...

kids are know to be cruel and forgiving

but u r a great mom- not to butt in

i certainly would have!

Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting episode. Thanks for sharing, but I would like a little more info please...

1. did the little boy with dissaproving looks communicate his dissapproval to anyone?

2. did the girl gang spontaneously side with pattu? or did they get external input to do so? Also were they in the same age-range?

3. Same qn about S, external input or spontaneous "stand-reversal"?

4. how many adults were there, apart from you?

Nevertheless, I am very impressed with Pattu for recognising that condesension brought about by guilt is not the same as apology brought on by a realisation of wrong doing. And most importantly for not sulking :) I am not so sure I would have done either! A very mature kid you have there :)


Pooh! said...

Wow! it starts early huh! I have not experienced it obviously with my 7 month old daughter but I feel Paatu handled it well and acted grownup. And you are one strong mom for not rushing to her side.

Uma said...

utbt - 'They are resilient, much stronger than we give them credit for. They are naturally compassionate. They move on' - you said it! Those were my very thoughts as well.

I've learnt that they handle situations better than adults when left to themselves.

All- I didn't intervene for two reasons
1. Pattu has always been adamant about having that particular swing to herself (when we moved in there were only 2 - 3 kids using the park and now there are 30. I feel that she sometimes views the other kids as intruders :D ). I've tried to explain to her mant times that the swing is common property and she should take turns but she won't hear any of it. I wanted her to understand this and accept it.
2. They were all kids, so what can I say?

And yes, I found S quite cute too. No ego - simply came and said what he felt and moved on.

I did feel bad when she cried and the teasing grew louder and for a moment considered butting in but caught myself in time.

Swati, Momo's ma - It was difficult to not intervene... thankfully sense prevailed... ;)

AJCL - Yes, Pattu's first reaction when she is hurt is to hold back tears - sometimes I feel it is probably better to cry out and move on. I worry that she tries to bottle up. Maybe not. I'm sure she'll have her way of handling it and it would be best for her to do it that way. I only hope I'll be able to read her and understand her well.

Hema - I love the way you put it, 'All children seemed to have behaved as they should have'. Absolutely!!

Art - 'kids are known to be cruel and forgiving' - this incident proves it so well isn't it?

KP - I knew you would ask ;)

1. That boy was in the older bracket - 7 or so. Nope he didn't communicate. I thought he wanted to but felt outnumbered.
2. The girl gang's reaction was spontaneous. They mouthed the chorus as they continued with their game. There was no aggression, they were not on a warpath. Just peacefully expressing their stance. It was should have seen it to believe it.
There were 2 girls in the older bracket - 6 to 8 yrs and the rest were younger. One of the older girls was leading the gang - in the game as well as in the chorus.
3. S - no external stimulus. The boy gang, when they dispersed, split into different groups and started playing - no signs of guilt or remorse.
4. There were atleast 5 to 6 adults - mostly granmas. They were busy talking to each other.

I don't think Pattu gave the incident much thought after she started playing. She didn't sulk, thanks to the girls. Without the game to distract her, I'm sure she would have kicked, cried and sulked for a long time.
You know, about this observation of yours - recognising that condesension brought about by guilt is not the same as apology brought on by a realisation of wrong doing'
- Am not sure if their thinking is as complex as that... I don't know...

Pooh - starts early, it definitely looks like :) you have a lot of time though.. I'd like to believe that this is a one off incident :)

PV said...

Uma - you showed amazing restraint in not intervening in the melee. Pattu also seems to have handled herself very gracefully without losing much composure

Hats off to both you and Pattu !!

Just reading this makes me clench my fists at the kids who teased Pattu

Uma said...

PV - I would have intervened but for the girl gang's reaction... its them I've to thank. Pattu howled :) ..I'm happy she did, she was able to leave the whole thing behind and move on :)