A week ago on Shabbat, we were at a friend’s house for lunch. Chananya (14 months old) was playing with some little toy, not bothering anyone. Until a slightly older toddler (somewhere in the 2-3 year old range) saw that Chananya’s toy looked interesting, and as toddlers are wont to do, walked over and ripped it fro his hands. As these things go, this is not an altogether uncommon incident with children this age. However, what happened next is a bit more unusual. Moshe (now almost three years old, pictured here feeding Chananya some nutritious chocolate pudding) saw this from across the room. He walked right over, grabbed the toy from the second kid, yelled “NO! Chananya is playing with that!” and handed it back to Chananya. When he made sure that Chananya was ok, he then walked back to the other kid, stuck his finger right up to the kid’s chest and said in a loud voice “Don’t!” (and continued standing in a menacing pose until we were able to separate them).
Then this past Shabbat, we were hanging outside one of the minyanim, waiting for the kiddush to start. There were lots of kids running around, playing, being mischievous. There was one sweet little two year old girl sitting down on the ground, playing with her sandals (taking them off, playing with the velcro, etc). All of the sudden, some other three year old (who is somewhat of a bully) comes up to her, grabs her shoes (she starts crying) and starts to walk away with them. Moshe (standing ten feet away) sees this happen, walks up to the bully (who happens to be at least a few inches taller then Moshe), grabs the shoes from him, and yells at the kid “DON’T. Those are her shoes! NO!”. He then hands then shoes back to the girl, turns back to the other boy and says again “NO!”, and follows up with a shove. The bully (who probably doesn’t understand English, but despite this got the intended message) backed off and walked away. Later, as we were leaving, we walked past the bully. Moshe went out of his way to once again approach the kid, get in his face and say “NO! That’s not nice!” until we pulled him away.
On the one hand, though it seems to be culturally accepted that children will be rough with each other, we are more of the school of thought that encourages children to play gently with their peers, share when appropriate, don’t be mean, don’t hit, etc. However, you also want your kid to be able to stand up for themselves when it is necessary. Thus it was pretty cool to see Moshe (not yet three) not only showing that he could stand up for himself, but also feeling the need to stand up for the kids who are smaller than him. So bullies beware – there is a new enforcer in the neighborhood.