This morning, I took Ebony to one of the new groups we’ve started attending. The group is held in a local recreational centre, and set up like some of the groups I visited as a toddler. There are lots of soft mats, wooden climbing apparatus, and benches set up around the room. The children are free to explore as they wish, jumping around in the soft play, playing with bats and balls, whatever they fancy.
I like this freedom, and it’s one of the main reasons we attend the group. There are various toys set up across the room too, including a ball launcher. Bear with me, because I just made up the term ball launcher, and from a quick Google image search I can confirm that this is not the correct term. It’s a plastic toy resembling a seesaw, and there is a hole for a ball at one end. You sit the ball in the hole, then walk across to the other end of the seesaw and stamp on it, thus launching the ball in the air. Don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with terrible drawn-out descriptions of each piece of equipment in the room, it’s just that the ball launcher is an integral prop in this story.
Ebony played with the ball launcher last week, so she knows how it works. A little boy called James was playing with it this week, so Ebony went over to watch. Each time he launched the ball, Ebony would run and get it for him. James would point at the hole, Ebony would place the ball there, James would launch it, and the whole thing would start again. One launch, a little boy called Nigel ran after the ball and picked it up. Ebony began her usual screech of “NO BOY NOOOO, BOY NOOOOO!!!” and pulled a very cross face. I shrugged at her, and said “Nigel has the ball now.” Not because I was trying to rub it in, I was just stating the facts. Ebony accepted this as truth, and followed after Nigel.
She stood next to him, and waited. After a while, Nigel dropped the ball, and Ebony picked it up. Her eyes were shining with evil at this point, she had clearly been willing him to drop the ball. She began to make her way back over to the ball launcher. James stood ready at the other end, waiting to stamp the team to victory. Ebony was striding towards him, proudly holding the ball, and Nigel was making his way over too. At this point, Nigel’s mum intervened. I’m not sure why, because I have seen all three children play with the ball launcher before, and no-one looked ready to start a fight, not even Ebony. “Put the ball there, Emily.” she demanded.
Ebony, astutely aware that her name is not Emily, gave a disdainful look and shook her head. She continued to walk closer to the hole. Nigel’s mum repeated, “Put the ball there, now, so we can play with it.” Because, you know, play must happen NOW OR IT IS NOT FUN. Ebony, under tha alter ego of her evil twin, Emily, ignored Nigel’s mum again, and so Nigel’s mum tried to take the ball out of Ebony’s hand. Essentially, she tried to snatch it, from a child.
I am currently trying very hard to teach Ebony not to snatch, I want her to learn that this isn’t an acceptable tool for getting what you want. As such, I don’t snatch things off her. Because how can I tell her not to do something that I freely and regularly do myself? Ebony looked horrified that someone was trying to take the ball from her, and held onto the ball tighter, “NOOOOOOOO!” she cried.
At this point, you might expect Nigel’s mum to realise what a knob she is being, and to let go, perhaps with an apology, but no. Nigel’s mum then said, “LET GO OF THE BALL, EMILY.” in a stern voice. Ebony dropped the ball, and looked round to find me, she gave me a look of, “Seriously, who the frick is this anus?”. I walked over, took her hand, and we walked away together while discussing all the things that were wrong about what had just happened.
Ebony didn’t seem too bothered about it in fairness, but seriously, who the hell grabs a strange child and tells them off for playing too slow? Who grabs a strange child at all? Wait, who grabs a child at all? ARGH!