Good-natured fun?

After school let’s out, Tornado E and his friends run around playing in the cement courtyard until us mothers decide it’s time to go.  The kids are bursting with energy, playing tag, searching for treasure, throwing toys.  The moms enjoy talking to other people who completely understand.  (You mean your son/daughter is still in pull-ups at night?  Thank God, I thought I was the only one.  Did you hear about this great sale?  The zoo is having a great free exhibit this weekend.  My son won’t eat meatballs either.  When are you going to our hairdresser; she’s great and cheap.  No, seriously, I can watch the kids for you . . . any time.)

Lately I’ve noticed a new game among the boys.  Wrestling.  It’s good natured.  But I keep my eyes open because they’re wrestling on concrete and that no matter how good natured it starts out, some one accidentally hurts someone else.  The surprising thing is I’m the only mom who notices when a wrestling match breaks out.  Maybe it’s because I know my son’s a little more aggressive than the other boys or the fact that he just loves to be physical when playing.  Or maybe I just know boys.

Since it’s been going on, I’ve noticed Tornado E likes the boys to chase him and get him.  Nothing new.  Except now when they get him, they all start wrestling.  Two against one.  Three against one.  It’s enough to make me really pay attention.  Especially since Tornado E is a head smaller than the other boys.  Oh, they’re laughing and smiling, but I can’t hear what’s being said during these wrestling matches.  I can feel the tension in the game building.

Last week, the wrestling was three against one. Tornado E was backed into the corner.  I’m talking to another mom, watching the wrestling, waiting for some sign that it would all turn bad.  Then Tornado E threw a great hook and got the biggest boy in the head.  The boy immediately started running towards the rest of the moms, to his mom, whom I was talking to.  At ear shot, he started to whine and snivel.

Tornado E hit me!!!

Thank God, I was with a pro.

And what did you do to Tornado E?

I broke in and mentioned the wrestling match, and perhaps Tornado E had become too aggressive.

She nodded and told her son no more wrestling.  The other boys had stopped, waiting for the verdict.  They moved on to a new game.

But it was yesterday’s game that made me really sick and nervous.  Three against one.  Only one of the boys would grab Tornado E’s hood and swing him around.  Tornado E would fall onto his hands and knees from the force.  Then the other boys would wrestle him to the ground.  I watched and waited.  I wanted to jump in and break it up.  I wanted one of the other moms to notice and call off her son.  But no mothers noticed.  Tornado E didn’t cry out; he didn’t look angry; he went back into the scuffle, fighting for all his worth.

Then the boy, who kept swinging Tornado E around, swung Tornado E into a bush.  Tornado E fell into the bush onto his bottom.  He looked up at the boy and yelled, “Stop it!  You’re being mean!” Tornado E stood up and faced the boy, who was a head taller than Tornado E like the other boys.  I started easing my way towards the boys, waiting for some one to move.  Instead the mom called her son to go home, and he ran off.

I asked Tornado E when we were leaving if he enjoyed wrestling with the boys.  He told me yes, but he wanted to know why the other boy was being so mean.  I said maybe we need to make some rules to keep people from getting hurt.  I told him that if he didn’t ever want to wrestle to tell the boys no and if that didn’t work to go play with someone else or come talk to me.

Even as I write this, I feel a little sick in my stomach.  I can only see this game ending in a bad way.  Obviously I don’t want to be the one to end the game in case it’s my son initiating the fight or that it lowers Tornado E in the social circle.  I just can’t believe I’m the only mom who has noticed this game, and I wish someone else would have the same issue.  Maybe I’m overreacting because I know my brothers used to love to wrestle with their friends.  But I’ve never seen the odds so unfair.  I keep wondering if there is come under current I’m not picking up on.  Yet Tornado E handles himself well.  Ugh.  Is this just boys being boys?  Or is this something else?

The Green One

When I was a child, my brothers and I fought over the Green Glass.  It was a plastic tumbler from Tupperware, which came with a set of four, including red, blue, and yellow.  But we could care less about the other glasses.  We fought, argued, yelled, begged, whined, pushed, shoved to get the Green Glass.  My parents were at their wits’ end.  What was so special about the Green Glass?  We maintained that milk just taste better in it.  I’m sure it was more to do that our siblings wanted it, so it became more desirable.  That Green Glass.

Last Christmas, I felt it was time to arm the family with light sabers.  I bought two blues, a green, and a purple.  I kept it a secret from even The Husband, so that he too could fill the thrill of getting a light saber to play with the boys.  The purple one was mine, of course.

Last week, the boys fell into a Star Wars kick.  They’re watching The Husband’s copy of the Star Wars cartoon series from a few years back.  They unsuccessfully try to convince us to play the Star Wars video games for them.  They’re fighting with light sabers.  They’re taking light sabers to bed.  They’re fighting over one light saber whenever they get a chance.

The Green One.

Tornado S adores the Green Light Saber, carries it around, takes it to bed, fights with it.  Food and Tornado E are the only things that will pry it out of his hands.  Tornado E must have the Green Light Saber at all costs, conning, whittling, begging, forcing it out of his brother’s hands.  When that doesn’t work, Tornado E cries, begs, whines for it from us.    We have three other light sabers here, people!

It does seem fair and just over the long view.  But I won’t believe it’s fair and just until my brothers have children.  They just better have more than one.

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My Son, The Vampire

Tornado S has learned to bite.  Which I can’t blame him, really.  Tornado E’s favorite game is “How can I annoy my baby brother the greatest.”  So in a lot of ways, Tornado E had it coming.

But rather than let Tornado S get carried away in a Chicago musical number, I some how have to discipline this grievous assault.  The kid leaves bite marks.  It’s only a matter of time before he breaks the skin.

The first time Tornado S did it, my dad was babysitting, and he was at his wit’s end on what to do.  If it had been his kid, it would have been a couple of spankings or a bite back, which worked so well on my middle brother when he went through this phase on me.  (Unlike Tornado E, I was a perfect child.)  But my dad knew how I feel about physical punishment, so he placed Tornado S into time out and cuddled Tornado E.

It happened on my watch last night.  Even though I threw Tornado S into time out for three and a half minutes, I don’t think it really had an effect, since Tornado S started laughing and talking to himself during the middle of it.  Nothing like a punishment that works.

And I wasn’t stupid enough to think this just happened out of the blue because Tornado S was so hungry from missing dinner, he mistook his brother for a hamburger.  As I comforted Tornado E, I interrogated him on what happened right before the teething incident. Tornado E was using Tornado S as a punching bag.  Nice.  Now I have to be in the same room with them at all times like a warden.  Where’s my shot gun?

So what’s a poor, enlightened mother suppose to do?

I’ve seen the whole biting the kid thing work, but I feel it’s a bit barbaric and contradictory.  Nothing like hitting to let some one know hitting is wrong.  I’m not sure that the time out thing is working, since it seems the place for Tornado S to work on his inner comedic monologue.

So any advice out there?

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It’s a Chocolate Day

It’s a chocolate day.

Evan is in the why phase, which is another post.

It’s a chocolate day.

Sean threw five temper tantrums.

It’s a chocolate day.

It was a 5:30 am wake-up call.  AGAIN.

It’s a chocolate day.

It’s a no-breakfast day, but I’m soooooo HUNGRY at 9:00 am day.  Really?  Because I just threw out your pancakes.

It’s a chocolate day.

It’s a boycott of lunch as well.  Because who wants peanut butter and jelly sandwiches when they can whine for something else with the hope Mommy just might give in to the torture and pull out better food because it can happen one day.

I want chocolate.

It’s an early naptime because everyone is whiney, tantrumy, and sleepy, especially Mommy.  But no, the I’m-almost-four boy decided to boycott naps, even though he’s been up since 5:30.

It’s a chocolate caffeine day.

Although we have an arsenal that includes half a dozen swords and four light sabers, they must have the same damn sword.

It’s a chocolate day.

All the kid DVDs are strewn across the family room; all the pirate treasure is strewn across the family room.  All the cars are out, so is every toy from the random-too-big-to-be-in-the-bucket-shelves-and-can’t-fit-under-the-train-table box.  Now they want Legos.

I want some chocolate.

They want candy.  They want fruit snacks.  They want fruit roll ups.  They want candy.  They want cookies.  They want candy.  They want fruit snacks.  But the sandwiches are still on their plates.

I want chocolate.

It took almost forty-five minutes to clean the pirate treasure with the nag, “pick it up now!” over and over.

It’s a chocolate day.

I sounded like my mom as I demanded to know “how many times I had to say . . . .”

Oh, God, I need chocolate. 

Thank God that I don’t have a smart mouth teenager that answered fifty. 

I think my mom deserves chocolate too.

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Reasons to stare at the wall than play Candy Land

My dad hated playing Candy Land.  I never understood why.  Until now.

 

1) Everyone wants the same color gingerbread man.  Every time.  It doesn’t matter if Sean’s favorite color is blue and Evan’s is read.  If the other had it first, then the second needs it NOW.

2) Sean must have more than one.  Evan finds this unfair.  I don’t care as long as it keeps the peace.

3) Evan must have every gingerbread man piece lined up just so, even if Sean is not going to play with the game.

4) Evan must make up an elaborate story before the first card is drawn.  Woe to those who try to play without listening to the long winded story.

5) Sean, who was once satisfied to just play with his pieces by himself and occasionally tornado through the game board, which gave me an opportunity to use my awesome visual memory, wants to pull cards too.

6) Sean: Blue!

Me: No, Sean.  Red.  That’s red.

Sean: Blue!

Me: No, Sean.  That’s orange.

Sean: Blue!

Me: Good job, Sean.  Blue.

Sean: Blue!

Me: No, Sean.  That’s green.  Grrrreeeeeennnnn.

7)Evan must make up a story about every move, every person, every color, every square, every picture, every move.

8)Evan: And this guy said hello.  He liked red, but he didn’t like blue.  Or green.  Just red.  And he said, “Look at those squares.  There is a red one and a blue one and a green one and a yellow one and an orange one.”  And he jumped to the red one because he liked red.  He said to the kids, “Come follow me.”  And they followed him.  There was a little girl, a little boy, another little girl, and another boy.  They sat at the- What’s this called again?  Oh, yeah.  The gingerbread tree, and they said, “Hello, gingerbread tree.” And he said . . .”

9) Evan has to ask the same questions over and over and over.

10) Evan: What’s that, Mommy?

Sean: Blue!

Me: That’s a peppermint beaver.  No, Sean.  That’s orange.

Evan: Oh, and what’s he doing?

Me: Cutting down-

Sean: Blue!

Me:- candy canes.  No, Sean.  That’s yellow.

Evan: And who’s that?

Sean: Blue!

Me: Mr. Mint.  No, that’s yellow again.  Same card I think.

Evan: What’s that?

Me: A peppermint beaver.

Sean: Blue!

11) Evan thinks that double squares actually mean three squares.  The first one doesn’t count.

12) Evan wants to go down the bridges, back and forth and without landing on them.

13) Sean is obsessed with ice cream.

Sean: Cream!  Cream!  (after he moved my head to look, pointing at the ice cream palace.)

14) Does any one remember when it was Princess Lolly, daughter of the King of Candy Land?

15) Evan: Mommy, what’s that?

Me: (How many times do I have to tell you it’s) The Chocolate Swamp.

16) Evan doesn’t want to keep drawing cards and is surprised he didn’t win as soon as he usually does; while, I kick myself for not stacking the cards And stacking the cards.

17) After finally making it to the chocolate monster, Evan wants to visit the peanut area.  And read the story.  And ask me more questions.  And tell me more stories.

18) Sean decides he wants to move the board.

19) Candy Land ends the way Monopoly used to end at my parents’ house when I was a kid.  Game pieces were thrown, cards scattered, and Mom yelling to quit it.

20) Evan wants to put away the board before Sean does.  Crying resumes.

21) Evan decides he wants a lollypop.  No, a candy cane.  No, chocolate.  How about some ice cream? 

Sure you do, kid.  That was the whole point of the game.  But I guarantee you, I need it more than you.

Sean: Blue!

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Five For Fighting

I know I should have seen it coming.  I knew it was coming.  I should be more prepared.  I should have read books about this.  I should have talked to my mom about it more.  Heck, I should have-

 

What’s going on now?  Be nice!

 

Talked to other moms about it more.  But I didn’t, and now I don’t feel-

 

Knock it off!

 

Prepared.  Because-

 

Be good!  Stop harassing your bother!  Both of you!

 

I am now The Referee. 

 

Like I said I knew it was going to happen.  I mean my brothers and I harassed each other so much that I’m amazed my mom didn’t go prematurely gray, and my dad does blame his hair loss on it.  I just was hoping

 

If Evan is playing with the car, you cannot have it, Sean!  You have to wait until he is done.  Here take this car.

 

That I had a few more years, a few more months, just a few more wee-

 

Sean!  We do not throw cars at our brothers.  Time out!  Evan!  We don’t hit back!  Time out!

 

I need a goddamn whistle.  Hell, I need a penalty box.  F-it I need a drink.

 

I remember how my mom would point out other families whose kids never fought.  We explained to her that it was hidden, unnatural, weird.  Now I realize my words are coming back to bite me in the ass.

 

Boys!  You can play a duet on the piano.  Share!

 

Lately I have been barking the orders to share and to be nice.  And for the love of God, be good.  How hard it is to share?  How hard is it to play with another-

 

We have two guitars.  You can each have one.  Take turns then!

 

So my job description sounds a little like this: maid, chef, dishwasher, laundress, chauffer, personal shopper, doctor, nurse, reader, filer, garbage collector, decorator, librarian, camp counselor, teacher, babysitter, and now Referee.

 

As The Referee, my job disc-

 

Evan, you stay on this side.  Sean, you stay on that side.  Now everyone has room to play.  Evan!  Don’t mess with Sean.

 

Description is to make sure that all injuries are due to accidents and not malice, to keep life as fair between siblings as humanly possible, and to make sure all rules with their penalties are enforced properly.

 

Now what?!

 

I need a time out.

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The Day After . . . the Illness

I think the day after an illness is the hardest.  When they’re sick, they want you.  They want juice.  They want crackers.  They want their blankets and stuff animals.  They just lay in front of the TV, watching with a dazed look as you worry about the fever, the vomit, their clothes, their hunger strike.  You worry you’ll get sick.  You get nothing done during the day, so you stay up late trying to finish the chores, scolding yourself over how you should be in bed in case you get sick.

 

 

Then the morning comes, and the children are awake and well, healthy and happy energetic and robust.  The techno-colored birds are singing.  Big-eyed squirrels run, gathering nuts.  The sun shines in the windows and waves at the healthy family.  Everything is right.  Until they realize you are not going to cater to their every whim like you did yesterday. 

 

No, you can’t have a sucker for breakfast.  No, the muffins are not in the box.  No, the muffins are not ready; I just put them in.  No, you may not have a Popsicle, even if you had one for breakfast yesterday.

 

Then they whine and cry.  They fight and bicker.  They scream and yell.  They make ridiculous claims and ridiculous requests.  They throw temper tantrums when they don’t get their way.  They whine “mom” with every sentence.  They hang on you like lead weights in your arms or a ball and chain around your ankle.  They are whining, whining, whining.

 

No, don’t push your brother.  No, you can’t have juice; drink your milk.  No, that’s hot.  No, you can’t play with the dish sponge.  No, don’t hit your brother.  No, don’t drop your plate because you don’t want to eat.

 

Today you have to go to the grocery store because you didn’t yesterday.  You didn’t want your children to be sicker, and you didn’t want to make other people sick.  But now you’re out of milk, bread, cheese, eggs, and ohdeargod juice.  If you want to make any kind of dinner, you have to take your whining, crying children to the store, where you will be judged for breeding such brats.

 

No, we don’t touch that.  No, we don’t run in the parking lot.  So help me God-  No, we don’t hit our brother.  No, we don’t kick our brother.  No, we don’t touch the fruit.  No, we don’t touch the GLASS JARS.  No, we don’t touch the candy.

 

Because today is today, you have to go to the bank.  You need to do a few deposits.  You need to visit the coin machine.  You need to go to Target because you have a baby shower to go to next weekend.  You wonder if you can wait another day on buying more laundry detergent because you don’t think you can handle another store, another parking lot, another check out line.  You look on the list and wonder if the library books need to go back today.  Why the hell don’t they stamp them any more? 

 

No, we don’t take his toy.  Please share.  No, you’re not watching any more cartoons.  No, it’s time to get dressed.  No, don’t hide.  Brush your teeth.  No more TV!  Don’t dump all the toys out.  Don’t dump all the Legoes out.

 

The family room is a mess from the blankets and the stuff animals.  When did we last eat popcorn?  There is a load in the dryer waiting in a wrinkled mess to be folded.  At least the kitchen is clean.  But you have to empty out the dishwasher.  Dishes, welcome to your new home, the dishwasher.  Can I take a shower now?  So you take a quick shower to become human and to have five minutes alone without whining, but you hear them whining outside the door. 

 

No, no TV.  Go outside and play.  Get some fresh air.  Remember fresh air.  Oh, wait.  It’s raining.  How about play dough?  Don’t eat the play dough.  Don’t take his play-dough.  Share.  No running off with play dough; that’s why we only have two colors left.  Is it naptime yet?

 

Then you run into the office and shut the door behind you.  You lean your body against the door, blocking any entry, taking deep breaths.  The boys are whining and crying and fighting.  Your husband is on a business call, selling his product, making sure you have electricity and car for another month.  You grab a pen and a sheet of paper.  You write in big bold letters:

 

Let’s Trade Jobs for Today!

 

The whining has stopped, only to resume at a louder pitch.  Some one has drawn blood.  You take a deep breath and duck out of the room. 

 

Ok.  Let’s put this away.  Here.  Let’s get out the trikes.  Evan, here’s yours.  Seanny, here’s yours.  Yes, you may have Viper.  Good job, Seanny.  Good sharing, Evan.  Look at my boys!  You guys are good at this.  Evan, try to pedal.  You can do it!

 

You sit and watch the living room biking.  You are showered and dressed, thinking about that wonderful new invention of caffeinated hot chocolate and the Hershey bars your evil best friend “accidently” left behind.  No one is crying or whining or fighting or yelling.  They’re actually laughing, having a good time and being nice to each other.

 

The husband comes out of the office to say he’s ready to trade.  There’s no shoe to throw at him.

 

 

 

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I’m sorry, but . . .

Evan pushed Sean.  I demand Evan to apologize to Sean, wondering if I should put Evan in a time out, but I decided an apology was enough.

 

Evan: I’m sorry Seanny for pushing you, but you shouldn’t have tried to take my bike.

 

That’s not what I meant at all!

 

I’m sorry I hit you, but your face was in the way of my fist.

I’m sorry I ate the last pizza, but you weren’t there.

I’m sorry, officer, but you shouldn’t have been radaring me.

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1.2.3.4. I declare sibling war.

It happened.  It finally happened.  Ok, maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised. 

 

Last weekend we were visiting some friends, and in their backyard was a swing set with a slide.  The boys were so excited to play with it.  Eventually Evan discovered a new game o0f rolling cars down the slide to Sean who laughed with glee, giving me the car to hand back to Evan to start the process all over again.   Evan kept in his other hand a purple Halloween flashlight that he found and wanted to carry around the house.  So after a dozen times of rolling down the car, Evan realized that the flashlight was round like wheels.  Let’s see what happens.

 

Success.  The flashlight rolled perfectly into Sean’s waiting hands, but rather than hand the flashlight to Mommy, Sean’s chubby hands closed around the flashlight.  Then Sean turned and started pumping those thick legs for all they were worthy.  Evan let out a cry and threw himself down the slide.  This is bad.

 

Since my legs are longer than the boys are tall, I shot past Evan with ease.  Sean had the element of surprise even though he still has that waddle run with his arms pumping side to side.  I caught up to him before he rounded the pool, shouting to Evan to let Mommy handle this.  I grabbed Sean and set him down, kneeling to look eye to eye. 

 

“Evan was playing with this.  This is Evan’s toy.  When he is done with it, you can play with it.  Now give it to Mommy.”

 

I know the only reason Sean wanted it was because Evan had it.  I pried the flashlight out of Sean’s fingers.  I handed it to Evan.  Sean’s hand shot out and grabbed the flashlight.  They tug-a-war-ed it.  I grabbed Sean, pulling him off the flashlight.  Sean wailed as though his puppy died.  Then I carried him inside and dumped him into my husband’s lap.

 

“What’s wrong, Sean,” asked my husband.

 

“He’s acting like a second born.”

 

***

I shouldn’t have been so surprised.  Maybe I should have been surprised over how long they were friends.  According to family legend my brother and I declared war much earlier on.

 

I was sitting, watching TV, holding my Teddy, sucking on my pacifier, minding my own business.  When my brother, my non-sucking pacifier brother, crawled over, he took the pacifier out of my mouth and crawled away.  When he was safely past arms length, he sat down, waved the pacifier in my direction to make sure I knew he had it, and stuck it in his mouth.  Are you kidding me?!  And I did what any toddler would do.  I started to cry.  And plot revenge.

 

And then it was a free for all after that.  Little moon-shape scars from fingernails.  Clumps of hair pulled from the root.  Barbie doll heads, hot wheel wheels, broken banks, broken toys.  Lies, blaming, tattling, arguments.  Wrestling matches that went on hours after the favorite TV show was over and unwatched.  A malignant hate that spread amongst the three of us in all consuming war that finally cumulated to the devastating head of-

 

Actually we eventually grew out of it in our late teens, early twenties, and we actually call one another and hang out.  It’s weird.  Of course, the minute the parents leave us alone with the TV and remote, we start arguing again.

 

***

 

So now whatever Evan has, Sean must have  it NOW.  If Evan is eating something, even if Sean has his own or already ate his own, he must have Evan’s NOW.  Not that Evan doesn’t just run by to hit, push, kick Sean whenever he gets the urge.  You can actually see it in Evan’s eyes when he’s decided to do something to Sean.

 

The other day, Sean bent down to examine something on the ground.  Evan took the opportunity to go behind Sean and start kicking him in the bum.  Sean was as unmoved as a rock.  I was horrified, and Evan spent sometime in the time out chair.

 

Or the day when Evan refused to nap and fell asleep on the couch watching football with his dad.  Out of nowhere, Sean came over and just started wailing on Evan, who slept through the whole thing.  We would scold Sean and distract him, but two minutes later he’s getting in his blows.  Hey, show some respect.  At least, do it when your parents aren’t watching!

 

So I’m knee deep in sibling rivalry.  Part of it’s my fault because I can’t seem to remember to buy two of everything.  Why the hell didn’t I buy two Wall*e’s.  And Bill Cosby may be right; eventually I won’t care about justice, just peace.

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AGAINST TODDLER FIGHTING VIDEOS

Dear people who think it’s funny to watch toddlers fight,

 

If you’re a parent or guardian, you need serious help.  You need parenting classes and some serious time on a couch with a professional treating you.  You are selfish jerks that don’t deserve to have children.  You are hurting these kids because you are letting them hurt each other, and then you go off and post it on the internet.  What the hell is wrong with you?  It’s your job as a parent to protect your kids from harm, not push them into it.  It’s your job to teach them right from wrong.  It’s your job to give them the guidelines to go through life.  If you think your making your kid tough, you’re not; you’re making your child weaker because he/she is only going to solve problems with his/her fists, and we all know how that works out in real life.  And if your kid becomes some mean little bully, you better hope you don’t run into me because I’ll take you to task for what you did.  Don’t worry about my kids.  I’ll teach them to fight the proper way . . . when they are old enough to go to marital arts classes and teach them to take down a bully in a punch or two right away.  Because bullies are mean.

 

As for the rest of you who think it’s funny to watch these fights on the internet or are a person who eggs this all on, you’re pretty sick too.  It’s not funny.  It’s mean.  It’s wrong.  How would you like someone to come over and kick the shit out of you? (oh and that also goes for the parents too.)  These kids have feelings, and they are really crying in these videos.  Those are real tears.  You need serious help too to understand why you like to watch innocent children get hurt.  And pray that we never meet each other because I will make you regret the chuckles you had at some child’s pain.

 

As for us decent people who are pissed off about this, let us raise up a huge ruckus.  Let us rage against this like people do over dog fighting.  Sure, these kids aren’t doing this to the death, but they are getting hurt; they are being used; they are being abused.  Let us let every internet site that hosts this kind of footage know how we feel about this.  Let us join together and try to protect these kids.

 

-One really pissed off Mom

 

 

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