This little face above is completely innocent. Don't get me wrong she is a crafty little minx- when I tell her to get one biscuit out the drawer she almost certainly comes back with two, and I often find her unzipping my bag to get my lipstick out even though I have told her about a hundred times to leave it alone. She knows exactly what she is doing. She has tantrums that make me question my own sanity.
But she is lovely and kind, and she doesn't have a bad bone in her body. I have written before about how I wish she would keep her innocence but today we have had a different kind of experience.
The Soft Play Devil Child.
Now don't get me wrong, Mads has been on the recieving end of a few pushes and shoves in her time, and the odd smack. I think it is part and parcel of being a toddler, and I also think most children go through a small phase of lashing out every now and again. Normally I smile sweetly at the child in question and say 'Be careful she is only little.' Normally that is the end of it.
But not today. The Soft Play Devil Child was unlike any breed of child I have ever seen. First of all he pushed her over when she was playing on a swing, she cried but I told her it was fine and that was it. I wasn't too fussed at this point. Then her and her friend were playing in the ball pool and he came along and pushed her over again and tried to kick her. It is not for me to discipline this child so I just said 'No please don't kick her.' Mads again started crying and clung to me for a while.
We then went over to the little dance mats to get away from him when five minutes later he followed us over. She was minding her own business and dancing away, looking absolutely adorable when this child came running over to her and pushed her so hard that she went flying. She is only small and he literally knocked her halfway across the room. I couldn't help it by this point and my finger shot out at him and I shouted 'No' at him. Eventually his mother came over and told him off, she was too busy chatting to her friends to notice what he was doing.
It sounds silly but it was her little face that actually made me want to cry myself. One minute she was laughing and dancing, and then her little face looked so unbelievably confused as if she was wondering why on earth someone would do this to her. She started crying again and for the rest of the morning she wouldn't leave my side, whereas before she was off on her own running around. This child made her lose a little part of her independent streak that makes her who she is.
The Soft Play Devil Child carried on causing havoc, I saw him push over a little girl that was barely walking and make her cry, hit a little boy, push over another boy and he also hit and pushed Mad's friend as well. All the other parents were looking at him but his parents literally seemed oblivious.
It sounds ridiculous but I cannot stop thinking about this child and also my little girls face of confusion when he pushed her. Don't get me wrong, I have no doubts that she will go through a phase like this herself, it is part of learning how to control their emotions, but there is a difference between lashing out in temper or upset, to being aggressive for absolutely no reason. My friend who I was with works as part of the health visitors team and she said the family is known to them all. Enough said.
One day I want Mads to go to nursery or pre-school, at the moment she is looked after by family friends while I am at work which I love because they adore her, but one day I want her to go and interact and learn with other children. At the moment all her friends are lovely, but one day when she goes to school or nursery I won't be there to protect her and see who she hangs around with or chooses to be friends with. And while 99% of them I am sure will be lovely, there will always be a Soft Play Devil Child. And it sounds awful but I don't want her mixing with children like that.
I want to keep her cocooned in that safe little bubble of innocence where she wouldn't hurt a fly, where she shares her toys and snacks with anyone who happens to walk past her, and where she smiles at anyone.
I hate the thought of her being out in the big wide world when I am not there to protect her. And more than anything I want to make sure she keeps that wonderfully kind streak that we love about her so much, and that she grows into a well rounded, lovely child. Albeit one with a stroppy side.
I never want it to get to the day where a cuddle from Mummy can no longer solve the problem.
And I never want other parents to look at her and shake their heads thinking 'Thank God my child isn't like her.'