On Violence


There are a couple of places that Morrison and I frequent quite a bit...the playground and our building playroom.  I am a born introvert and a relatively quite soul so I am drawn to take him at times when I know it won't be busy.  I'm not sure if this tendency is a good or bad thing for Morrison, but he always plays happily.  In fact occasionally he will say "No kids there..." to me before we arrive at our destination.  This morning he said just this statement, and I know it was a result of the chaos we experienced yesterday which lead me to deeply ponder several things.

It was a dreary day so Morrison decided on the playroom to run around and burn off some steam.  We always try to get out of the apartment for a bit of time everyday, so it's lucky that we can travel one floor down for respite.  We arrived and could hear some kids screaming outside of the door.  To be expected with the rainy weather, so we headed inside.  Morrison went straight to his favorite car, and got in.  One of the little boys (maybe three) jumped on the back catapulting Morrison forward into the plastic rock-climbing wall.  Morrison stunned, opened the door, got out, and walked over to another toy.  The three nannies in the room just looked and said nothing.  Next up was a an all out fist fight, wringing necks, slapping faces between two of the the three year old boys.  Morrison watched in horror as one of the nannies tried to split the kids up, screaming the entire time.  "Holy Shit..."I thought.  I wasn't sure whether to leave, or let Mo continue playing at this point.  I chose the latter and he kept cooking in the play kitchen.  Finally he headed over the the matchbox car track which is about as tall as he is.  Again, playing quietly with the cars when all of the sudden one of the boys ran past and belted the track with his foot sending plastic parts flying everywhere.  The nanny walked over, asked this kid if he wanted to go home and told him to play nice.  What?!  Morrison started to cry, most likely because he was petrified.  I was able to convince him to leave after a few more minutes and we headed back home.

The entire afternoon I was shaken with so many questions...Where does that insane amount of aggression come from at age 3?  Could they be exposed to that much media at home that they pick up this behavior?  Is it because they feel neglected so they act out?  How do I talk to Morrison about this, wen they are his peers, but he has no idea about the concept of aggression right now?  How do I navigate the excess of violence we are all exposed to, and when is it appropriate for him to watch?  

What scared me most of the lack of reaction from the adults in the room, I guess.  I really try hard to not raise my voice, or punish Morrison when he does act out, in favor of explaining why something is wrong.  But we would have definitely headed home if he had done anything remotely close to what we witnessed.  At what point have we become immune to fighting and violence.  How do we go from tragedy to tragedy on our newsfeed without having it deeply effect us.  I am a happy person generally, and try to keep most negativity far away, but I do reflect deeply about what is going on in our culture, and how I can contribute in the most positive way by raising caring and empathetic kids.  The question becomes how to teach them to also be confident and protective of themselves when so many others aren't taught the same values.