The Woman I Should Have Hated

There are people that you have a set of expectations on how your interaction will go with them. For me, it was Sydney*. She was the mother of the daycare bully Justin. You see, the daycares in my tiny town were few and far in-between. So when one opened that was accepting new applicants and was highly affordable, it was like a dream come true. Too bad that trouble is always around the corner. Enter Sydney and her son, who both made me infuriated, and eventually, humble. This is how our contentious situation played out.

The big event that set all of the drama into motion happened when I was babysitting my niece only to find that she was being bullied in her daycare by an older boy. She had a few tiny bruises on her shoulders and a big one on her kneecap. When I asked what had happened, she told me that Allen had punched and kicked her on separate occasions during their playtime. Upset about this I talked to the daycare teacher who essentially told me that she asked Allen not to hit my niece and was waiting to see if he would ever comply with that request. Realizing that Allen had no reason to ever stop hitting my niece because he was not being punished for his misbehavior, I took matters into my own hands.

As it turned out my niece's parents were aware of the problem and had been unsuccessful in their attempts to have the daycare expel Allen. They also could not find another daycare that was accepting new children my niece's age. Their options were to either quit their jobs to become stay at home parents or to look the other way about Allen's actions. Apparently, they chose the latter of that by default. That very evening I took my niece to a country store and bought her knee-high pointed toe cowgirl boots. As I found out, steel-tipped leather boots are a lot of money, but I'd be damned if I didn't do anything. I then told my niece to kick that boy as hard as she could in his shin if he ever laid a hand on her again. She was additionally informed that if she got in trouble that she wouldn't be in trouble at home. I even showed her how to practice kick a blueberry bush in her backyard a few times to be sure she could complete the motion correctly. By her bedtime of that day, she was ready to defend herself.

All it took were a few well-placed kicks and Allen learned not to mess with my niece. Designer cowgirl boots: $129.99, never having to see my niece cry because a boy pushed her on the playground: priceless. Her parents frowned on my methods but agreed with my results and my niece thought her little boots were the cutest. It was worth eating only beans and rice for a while to buy her those. Not long later at a summer sing-along for the kids, I finally met Allen's mother. She was frazzled, yet a kind woman who explained to me that she had to split custody with her now ex-con / former husband who had been teaching their son to hit and attack anyone who "disrespected him." As she apologized for Allen, I could tell that she was at her wit's end and truly wanted to make amends.

Ultimately, I learned that being mad can be unproductive, and standing up for yourself is important when done appropriately. Assuming things about others is even worse. I thought Sydney would be a garbage person who was a terrible parent. The truth was that she was a good mother working against an unfair situation. Sydney did find a better job and moved out of town, taking Allen with her. With less access to Allen from his father, the boy started doing much better. Allen even has friends now and is no longer the kid who no one goes to his birthday parties, which is all Sydney ever wanted for him, for her son to have a chance to be normal. As for Allen's dad, the last that I had heard about him was that he was in a county lock-up for attacking another person at a bus stop for "looking at him wrong."

*names changed to protect privacy