I really hate it when a naughty child happens to a good birthday party.
Today, I took my youngest, (we'll call him "Mr. G") aged four, to the birthday party of a fellow classmate in pre-school. The birthday boy is a bit shy, but very sweet and his parents are wonderful - fab hosts, generous, so friendly. Things were going along swimmingly, with the children being allowed some free indoor/outdoor play time after a set of group activities. During this free time, a young boy, who wasn't part of the pre-school class most of the kids were, was playing amongst the others. I say "playing amongst" because he was decidedly not playing with the other children. In the next hour, I witnessed in this child's behavior what I saw as "strikes".
First strike: beyond ear-piercing shrieks of protest because his mother was trying to have him come away from a popular toy so others could have a turn with it. Mr. G even covered his ears - "Too loud, Mama!"
Second strike: having several full-on temper tantrums and hitting his parents. Also, not sharing with others - full-out "hogging" of toys.
Third strike: he hit my child. His parents weren't in the room, and Mr. G had some colourful balls that this boy wanted. Since my son's arms were otherwise occupied with the said balls, he couldn't properly defend himself when the nasty child started hitting Mr. G's face, chest and arms in a wild two-arm flapping. I was about five feet away, and interjected right away between my stunned, teary son and this pint-sized terror. I had to comfort one child and firmly, but nicely chastise the other. (I ended up having to protect my son two other times as this child was ready to launch himself at Mr. G to get a toy.)
I was tempted to go stand near the boy's mother and tell her, sotto voce, what her son had done. I didn't though, having the distinct impression that this wouldn't come as much of a surprise.
In the end, Mr. G did the condemning himself. When it was time to leave the party, my son and I were standing at the top of the stairs waiting for the birthday boy's mother to lead us to the goodie bags. The family containing the unruly child were also there, just beside and in front of us. My wee son, bless his heart, saw the boy, and pointed a decidedly accusatory arm and finger at him. His mother, next to me, saw this, and looking shame-faced at me, said "I'm sorry for whatever he might have done.". With a shrug and half-smile, I replied, "These things happen.". I wasn't thinking this, but I decided it wasn't a worthy battle to get into.
I certainly don't envy these parents their job of raising such a child...