Other People’s Kids

February 19, 2007

You can’t shoot ’em…

I’m entering a whole new zone of behaviour and ethics. The playground interaction. The delicate interplay of boundaries, civility and protection of our most precious ones. My twins are now almost 15 months. Old enough to run around in a toddler-friendly playground and have a go on some of the equipment. It’s fun! It’s new, it’s exciting.

When you are one year old, you believe the world is a happy place and everyone is your friend. Of course, when you are a twin you are also used to another little rival who likes to steal your rusk, pull your hair and sometimes even push you over. But once you enter the playground the dangers multiply. There are Big Kids. Physically stronger and capable of more calculating attacks.

My son was taunted with a lollipop today! My first instinct was to grab the lollipop and hiss “You’re not a very nice little boy” loudly and throw said confectionery in the rubbish. A three year old boy persisted in holding the lollipop in front of my very innocent and trusting one, who would of course reach for it – and then snatch it away. Meanwhile the mother stood around with her very skinny designer-clad friends holding their “bugaboos” and bitching about someone or other in their school mothers’ group.

No wonder the kid had issues, I could see already that antisocial behaviour was his only path to being noticed at all. This still did not engender any sympathy in me.

No, I didn’t abuse the 3 year old, relax. I simply walked over, stood behind my son and said “hello” pointedly. Luckily that was all it took.

Earlier on at the same playground, the other twin was pushed over by a snotty nosed little girl. Luckily he was totally unfazed by this.

However it does raise some questions. What do you do? Is it acceptable to discipline someone else’s child? Do you raise it with the parents first? When is snatching lollipops or verbal abuse appropriate?

To what lengths will you go to protect your precious ones? At what point is it better to let them fight their own battles? Obviously not at 15 months. I think I’ll continue the close supervision for now.

The fact is, other people’s kids are sometimes horrid. And although it has been a surprise to me, it’s to be expected. People in general aren’t always nice, the children just follow suit.

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3 Responses to “Other People’s Kids”


  1. In Germany, mothers definitely do reprimand other people’s children and I find it refreshing. Social interaction here presumes that other people will behave in a reasonable way (including children), and if they don’t then people mention it – even if it’s other grown-ups misbehaving. It takes a bit of getting used to, coming as I do out of the overly polite British mode of interaction, but I like it now. If any little playground brat oversteps the mark, then I step and mention it, as kindly but firmly as I can. The mother is seldom far behind.

    I think when you’re uncomfortable, always step in, especially if your child or someone else’s safety is concerned.

    It’s lovely having you back and blogging – please don’t go away again!


  2. Unfortunately, the whole “Other People’s Kids” problem doesn’t go away. We took my grandson out of regular school when the behavior of school yard bullies became too much for him and complaints to school administrators got us nowhere. He’s homeschooled now, making entirely more progress than he was in his former school. Still, I know homeschooling is not an option for everyone, and I feel sorry for the children who are stuck in a system that does not protect them from other people’s kids.

    Our story is here:
    http://howtohomeschool.wordpress.com/unschooling-by-accident/

  3. BookMama Says:

    Personally, I have no problem saying something to another child if the behavior persists and the other child’s parent doesn’t see or doesn’t do anything about it. I even tell kids “don’t run” or “sshhh” (or whatever’s warranted) when they’re running or yelling at the store or the mall. I would expect that someone would remind my son (5 years old) of the rules if he forgot.

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