From the Blog

Little Kids Are Super Evil

Last week, I met a friend and her 18 month old, Roxy, at a kid-friendly coffee shop/play place. There was a smattering of people quietly sitting with lap tops or drinking coffee. But for the most part, the place was dominated by parents and young children. There was a corral filled with books and toys, and kids happily toddled and screeched while moms and dads (mostly moms) debriefed over coffee.

It was not a quiet place. It was really a place for kids to run around with wild abandon, and for the speedier parents to chase them. Roxy is just such a toddler. She is just at that age where there is nothing, NOTHING, more fun than running away from her mom. I wrote about this stage once. There is no such thing as sitting and relaxing when you are the parent of such a toddler. Although, as we sat there, there were plenty of kids who seemed to run around unsupervised.

At eighteen months, Roxy is about as wiggly as you can get. And she was very social and interactive with other kids. She is not yet at that stage where she believes a toy in her possession belongs to her. She doesn’t yet have the “mine” mentality. There were older kids and younger kids at various stages of socialization, and she observed how other kids played.

However, she was intensely curious about much younger kids. A mom brought a baby boy in a car seat and set him on the floor. Roxy zipped over to get a look at him. And she fished around in his car seat and happily procured his toys and ran off with them. The baby didn’t care. But the baby had an older sister, probably three or four years old. She saw the theft of her brother’s toys and wailed, “Mom! She’s stealing our toys!” The little girl was furious. She was outraged. The mom was nonchalant and probably tired.

Roxy came to show us her new toys and we advised her to give them back. Roxy went back to the car seat and the older sister snatched them away. She was still super pissed. Roxy just grinned and ran off to the next amusement. She saw an unmanned stroller and tried to take it for a spin. But a little boy came over and defended it with his body, pushing Roxy away. He was too young to speak, but it was clearly his stroller. At one point, Roxy lost a shoe, but found someone else’s shoe and put it on.

She was too young to know the difference. All toys were just toys. All shoes were just shoes. All books were just books. She didn’t fuss when an older boy took away a toy she was playing with. She just observed him silently. Roxy hasn’t yet developed a sense of possession or injustice.

I was keeping an eye on Roxy, and all the kids in my field of vision, because it was fascinating and a little terrifying. I saw how tired some parents looked. This was honestly, a loud, unpleasant place. But parents happily camped out, watching their scamps run around. This was a way for families to get out of the house. These parents were thrilled to be there. I sat and talked to my friend amidst the din. And I contemplated my life.

Since I was keeping an eye on Roxy, I watched as a much older girl waded into the toy corral. She was probably four or five. I don’t really know. I’m not a good judge of kids’ ages. She was much taller, and most of those toys were too young for her. Roxy was sitting in the pile of toys and the older girl approached her. She had a doll in her hands. She offered the doll to Roxy, and I thought, how nice. That’s a nice little girl.

Except when Roxy reached for it, the girl pulled it away. She did it again. She offered Roxy the doll, and when Roxy reached for it, the older girl pulled it away. She did it three times. And Roxy, as I said, has no sense of injustice, she regarded the girl calmly. She didn’t fuss. But she fell for it each time, she reached for the doll. But the older girl kept doing it. And I thought, what a little shit! What an evil little shit! 

This little girl was old enough to know exactly what she was doing. She had full comprehension of what’s fair, and what it meant to share a toy, or to take a toy away from someone else. But Roxy was younger. And this little girl was in her element, in the wilds of a childhood playland. Perhaps she was thinking she was not being observed. And so she was behaving in the way that was most natural to her. And she was simply taunting a younger child.

I guess I have to come to terms with my own naiveté, because I was stunned, watching this. I was horrified. And I was whipped into a froth from my own sense of injustice. It wasn’t simply not sharing a toy, because you’d expect that. No kid wants to share toys. Adults don’t want to share toys either. It’s a human condition that we control with the thinnest veneer of socially enforced civilization.

This was beyond not sharing. It was taunting. It was manipulative. It was picking on someone smaller than her. For what? For what purpose? Was it entertainment? Did she want to see if she could make Roxy cry? Was it grappling for hierarchy? Is this what we do to each other if we think no one is looking? Is this our nature?

My friend saw it too and jumped up. “You should give her the doll if you are offering to share,” she said to the little girl. The girl kept the doll. “Little girls are mean,” observed my friend. Indeed. I saw her teasing Roxy with the doll again later. I was just relived that Roxy was too young to understand what a mean little bitch that girl was.

Seriously, I’m going to need to go back to school and study goddamned child psychology. And hope that I don’t give birth to evil little shits.



  1. Little boys skip the manipulation and go straight to physical violence. What a lovely thing to parent. :) You, however, will have the advantage in that your boys can practice these skills on each other vs. random strangers in public (which is the end-all of embarrassing for the mom, ask me how I know).

  2. Michelle says

    There are mean kids just like there are mean grown ups.

    I remember when I found out I was having a boy. I cried and cried about it. I didn’t like little boys, they were mean and aggressive. My grandmother gave me the best advice ever. She said that it was true, little boys were nasty little creatures. However, my little boy would be MY little boy and as his mother I had the opportunity to show him how to behave.
    She was right, I love him to pieces (although there was a time around age 2 where I didn’t like him that Now that he’s almost 13 he gave me some great advice,”Mom, all you really have to do is keep me alive. You know that right?” I’m trying dude, I’m trying… far so good.

  3. I wanted a little girl when I was pregnant with my son – but now I am so glad he is who he is! He is in kindergarten this year and I have observed that the little girls are MEAN to each other – at my sons birthday party we had a zip line (my husband is a professional rock climber/mountaineer – yeah he is super cool) and the kids were standing in line and the little girls were pushing each other and teasing one another until I told them they had to keep hands to themselves and play the quiet game for a few minutes. The little boys were much nicer!
    My son is also a snuggler – he loves to cuddle up with us – which is the best thing in the world! Granted there are times I want to pull my hair out – but those times are few and far between!

  4. Heather says

    I think I’m okay with boys. I mean, I was bewildered when we got the news. Boys. What I’m I going to do with boys? But now as the idea has settled, it’s almost sort of a relief. It seems like it will be less complicated.

    My biggest concern is how much more energy they will be, and like, how I won’t be able to be lazy anymore.

  5. i think kids are like rottweilers and pitbulls. it is all in the parenting and environment. if they grow up with love and tolerance and understanding, and discipline, they turn out like normal creatures… think about your childhood… let them grow up like that. they’ll be great humans.

    that said, the older girl sounds like a horrid little shit who has had a lack of bum slapping in her short existence.

  6. Aunty Laurie says

    If there is one thing you can take away from all the comments you get on your blogs about children, it’s, No Two are the Same! They come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities, and it is the Very Rare child (thank God) that is born Evil, every other one is a product of their up bringing!
    Children are investment, you will get out of them, what you put into them! Your boys will grow up to be loving, caring, wonderful people because that’s what You and Dave are, but they will start out being, rumbustious, obnoxious, minds of their own, little shits, because they are young humans, and that is what Nature has given human parents to work with. And IT IS WORK, they don’t raise themselves, they are a 24/7 job for their young lives! It Is Work to say NO, and Mean it, and not back down cuz it’s easier. To drag their kicking, Screaming Little Asses up next to you in a public place and make them sit, or out of the the grocery store when they are screaming for the toy in the cereal box. BTW do yourself a favor, make the cereal, and candy aisles the Last you go to in the store, or better yet have Dave watch the kids so you can go to the grocery store by yourself , that is a battle best not fought if you can avoid it.
    You are doing the the best thing a Mother to be can do, you are observing, and learning in the Real world. Lame Ass books will never come close to teaching the lessons you learned in that coffee shop! Oh and Heather, you Will have that tired look, it comes with the job.

  7. Little girls can be really horrible. I have twin daughters who are 6 1/2 and we had mean girl issues that started as early as pre-school. One of my kids came home crying (when she was 4!) because the other girls told her she wasn’t pretty because her hair wasn’t long. We’ve had similar issues in Kindergarten and now 1st grade. Not ALL little girls are like that, but I’ve found there are 1 or 2 in every class. It sucks. I was thinking we had until middle school before we had to start dealing with all this crap.

    As a side note — you’ve probably gotten more book recommendations than you care to have, but as far as development stuff goes, I like the series, Your One Year Old, Your Two Year Old, etc. by Louise Bates Ames. The research was done a while ago and certainly, everything discussed in the books doesn’t apply to every child — BUT, I’ve found the info. really helpful when my kids have hit certain stages and I had no idea what was going on with them.

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