A few days ago, I had a bit of an “altercation” with a neighborhood kid.

Not a physical altercation, more like raising-my-voice, wagging-my-finger-and-angrily-glaring-as-I-walk-away kinda altercation. It did cause my pericarditis to act up, costing me 2 Tramadol pills. Oh Tramadol, why doesn’t my drug plan cover you…

I don’t usually run out of the house just to yell at a child on the street, but when that said child takes his bike and smashes it against my son’s ride-along, Flintstone’s style car, not once but twice–then this dad can go from 0 to 60 in a heartbeat.

Once that business was done and the kid had gone away, a couple of my son’s playmates approached me and said that the kid had always been, in their words, bad. Because of him, other young children in our neighborhood started swearing, and finding it “fun” to take sticks and beat each other. This kid also apparently liked kicking down other kid’s toys, bikes, everything. I’ve personally seen another mom, a friend of my wife’s, go over to the kid’s house to tell his mom, because he had picked on her daughters and punched them in the face. I even heard the kid swearing at his own mother, through their open window walking home from work one night.

I don’t personally believe that a child should be at fault for the way he/she acts, especially at such a young age. The blame should be on the parent, and I see no excuse any decent parent can have for such behavior. These are children, merely a reflection of what they see, hear, or are exposed to at a regular interval. We don’t live in a great part of town–in fact, many refer to our area as “the ghetto” due ultram 100mg online to the activity of juvenile crimes, gangs, violence, and the predominantly East Indian/Pakistani colonies. But still, this was a child I’m talking about here–he’d have no concept (or at least, should not have) any grasp on these negative influences around him.

With this incident in my head, I thought about the things many fathers–and parents in general–should be looking out for: oftentimes simple behaviors and changes that I personally believe shouldn’t be the “norm”–especially for a 5 year old.

1.) A 5 Year Old Should Never Bully Another Child On Purpose, And Never Especially For “Fun”.

Horsing around is common for boys. I personally never did much horsing around, but I had friends who enjoyed a good pile-up every now and then… as long as nobody was getting hurt. I remember pile ups and scraps where kids were laughing.It was pretend, it was fun. One can play the bad guy, one can play the good guy. In the adult world, we call it pro-wrestling. Not MMA; MMA is another word for “Ultimate Hugging Championships”.

But when a 5 year old takes a stick–or in this case, a bike–and hits another child with it, and laughs as the other child cries in pain, something is wrong. That kind of “horsing around” should never be acceptable. That’s straight up bullying.

Many roughneck machos like to fall back on the excuse “boys will be boys”. But the last time I checked, I’m a boy. I was a boy. And I never found it OK to hit other boys, or their stuff, for fun. And it shouldn’t be.

2.) A 5 Year Old Should Never Swear On Purpose. At Anyone. Especially Their Own Parent.

At one point in a child’s life, he/she will be exposed to a swear word. I’m not going to go into specifics, but you all know what words often escape our mouths at times in front of our children. Heck, even I’m guilty of this at times. But there is a difference when a child swears but is innocent of what the word means, and when a child swears at other children, or worse, at their own parent–in a heated argument or with deliberate intention.

I know many parents out there believe that no child as young as 5 could swear with deliberate intention, but let’s not forget normal children pick up speech patterns as early as the age of 1 year, 6 months. My 1 year, 11 month old already speaks words such as “hot”, “paci” (short for pacifier/soother), and “ipad”with deliberate intention. And the reason I said “normal” child is because my eldest has a medically diagnosed speech delay and only started talking around the age of 3.5 years, and as such, his grasp on certain words are limited.

As adults and as parents, we should always make sure to not swear, as hard as it is, in front of our children. Easier said than done, I know. One technique me and my wife use is making it seem like our son misunderstood our words. So when I accidentally said “sh*t” one time, and he repeated it, I told him “No, daddy didn’t say that, daddy said “shoot”. I then explained to him that “shoot” was a simple expression of dismay when we forget to do something. See how easy it was to divert a literal swear word into something similar but less vulgar?

3.) A 5 Year Old Should Never Ask Strangers For Money

A couple of years ago, as I was walking home from work, I came across a naked child wearing only a pair of shorts. He was about 3 or 4 I believe. As I came closer to him, the child came up to me with his toy laser gun… And said “Give me your money mister, or you’ll get hurt”. First thing that came to my mind was Am I Being Robbed By A Child? So I looked at him, and just walked away. “HEY! I said I want your money!” he screamed, and started shooting. As he went back inside his house, I walked away unscathed from the pew pew pews. The experience, while humorous at first, became darker and darker the more I thought about it.

Fast forward a couple of weeks later, and the same scenario occurred… only this time, it was a guy who looked sort of my age. No, he didn’t rob me with a toy laser gun. But he did stop me to ask for a cigarette. I told him I don’t smoke. He then asked me for bus fare. Sure, bus fare. So I told him I have a bus pass and don’t carry any change. So he said “F*ck”, crossed the street… and went inside the house of the same boy who tried to rob me weeks earlier.

Guess who the same boy was. And guess who his dad was. Just a couple of houses down from where we live.

Money and finances are problems that we face as adults. I understand that sometimes, the lack of money can and does seep into our everyday lives. I’m not foreign to that situation–I face it everyday. But as a father I believe that issues such as money, the need or desire of it, should be restricted to a certain age. And that age depends on how well you know your children and yourself as a parent. And at 3 years (back then), is not an age where obtaining money by all means should be discussed or even brought up in an environment with children. We have employment counsellors, job banks, agencies, social service workers to talk and deal with such issues–all we have to do is swallow our pride and look for help. Not our children.

4.) A 5 Year Old Boy Should Never Hit A Girl. Ever.

I’m a big believer in chivalry. In my background, men still held doors open for women. Men would give up seats for pregnant, disabled or old women. “Ladies first” wasn’t a mockery of a woman; it was a sign of respect. Yet for some reason today’s “modern” woman frowns upon this. “Treat us like equals!” they shout, then file “irreconcilable differences” on divorce papers when their husbands yell at them–like any man would to another man. The whole idea of “modern feminism” has evolved into extremism, in my opinion. I guess Lois Griffin says it the best: Feminism is about choice.

With that said, I raise my sons to be respectful not just with their mom but other women as well. I do my best to remind them at an early age to listen to their mom, and reprimand them when they become irate or display rude behavior towards their mom. Not because my wife is a wuss–my wife can kick my ass, she can sure kick theirs. But because I want my 5 year old and my 2 year old to respect their mom, and as they get older, respect women.

Which is why, when I witnessed my wife’s friend storm this kid’s house to talk to his mom about him punching her daughters in the face and then running away after, I knew that perhaps, something like this was going on at home, behind closed doors. Everyone has skeletons in their closet, but in my mind, this was the only explanation behind the kid’s violence towards those girls. And frankly, it was scary to think about.

5.) A 5 Year Old Should Never Forget That He Is Just A 5 Year Old. That He Is Just A Child.

Bullying other males. Violence towards girls. Finding humor in kicking down other people’s stuff. All this negative behavior from this kid got me fired up at first, to the point where I told him that I don’t want him playing with my sons anymore. He merely shrugged. I then told him that the moment I see him kick, punch, or hurt my boys I will call his parents. He then told me his mom was home. So then I told him I’ll call the cops, who can charge him and take him away–to which he responded the way I didn’t expect a 5-6 year old boy to do–he got scared.

At first I was patting myself in the back, I started thinking deeper… Wait… That kid couldn’t possibly be just 5? Maybe 6? So I asked the other kids. They weren’t sure themselves, but 5-6 sounds about right. And then it dawned on me: I wasn’t talking to a 5-6 year old. No freakin way. The way he acted, the way he responded… reminded me of a teenager. Not a child. A freakin teenager.

Then I realized that this kid… Doesn’t even know he’s a kid. He’s a child. And yet, he doesn’t seem to know.

Maybe it’s the perceived problems at home. I know for a fact that they’re short on money. Maybe it’s a lack of stability–I don’t see the father in our area anymore. I’m grasping at straws, but whatever is going on at home has most likely driven this child into growing up too fast, perhaps making him believe that he has to solve–or at least be able to ride–with these problems. And that’s just… sad.

I am a strong believer in letting children be children. As parents–as fathers–it is our job and duty to make sure our children grow up in the best environment we can give. And to give them such an environment, we have to try our hardest to shield them from the worries and troubles of the outside world. Many parents say it can’t be done. Bullcrap. It all depends on how much we try. And we should always try. From something as simple as not talking about a lack of finances when our kids are around, to something impressive such as quitting smoking, it all depends on how much we try. Let the efforts we endure for the sake of our children be our sources of pride as men, as fathers. Not our trucks, fancy cars, big houses, acreages, corner offices, or amount of degrees on our walls.

As I finish writing this post, I wonder about that child. I wonder how long he’ll continue living like that. Because as days change into months and months into years, he might end up growing up, well, potentially into a delinquent.

With that said, I hope that you can all take a few moments to look and see if any of the things I talked about are starting to appear or occur more frequently with your children. If they do, it’s never too early to ask for help.

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