At recess, when is it best to tell on someone?

Louisa asks: At recess, when is it best to tell on someone, or not?

Ah, the politics of the playground!  When I go to the dog park, it’s fun to tumble and tussle with the other pooches.  Most of the time, everyone just has a great time.  But sometimes, one of the other dogs gets too rough.  When that happens, whoever he’s being too rough on usually just gives a yelp.  And that’s enough — the dog realizes she’s playing too harshly, and pulls back, and they keep rolling on each other and it’s fun again.  But sometimes, very rarely, a dog means to play too rough.  And when that happens, when a yelp isn’t enough, it’s really important that the dog who’s getting beaten up gives a big yelping scream.  That way, his owner and the owner of the bully dog both run over and break it up.

Now there’s also another kind of dog.  This is the kind of jerk who, when anyone plays with her at all, starts screaming as though she’s being eaten alive.  Well you know what happens with her?  No one wants to play with her anymore.  She’s no fun at all.

So it seems to me that it’s pretty much the same with kids.  What you really want is to be able to play, right?  So as long as things aren’t too awful, I’d say to keep playing.  Even if someone breaks a rule, or says something mean, or gives you a shove.  Just work it out between yourselves, and keep playing.

But if someone’s being so mean, or so bad, that you can’t enjoy playing with them, then absolutely, it’s time to go to an adult and tell.  Someone needs to stop that kid from being that way, and you’re not big enough to do it.  So go ahead.  And when that mean kid insults you and calls you a tattletale, know that you were right, and that he’s just angry that someone’s stopping him from feeling more powerful than you.

BUT!  In no way am I saying you should become that third kind of dog!  If you’re always running to a teacher, complaining or whining that everyone’s not playing the way you like, you’ll find that you end up by yourself.  Because no one wants to play with someone who’s always ruining the fun.  So think first.

Most of all, Remember: When you get older, it’ll be so much harder to find the time and the place to play.  So enjoy it now!  Get out there and play hard, and fall down and skin your knee and get banged up a little and get kind of mad and kind of hurt and have so much fun your heart almost can’t take it.  That’s what life is all about.  Adults and dogs are there to protect you from being too unsafe, but within those boundaries, PLAY!

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