Monday, January 3, 2011

Christmas Day 10

Goodbye to Chris' Christmas vacation from work, hello to our regular life and Chris back on airplanes, and welcome to the third trimester!

Thank you to Aunt Elizabeth for today's Christmas gifts!

After how much John enjoyed the Epiphany party yesterday, I am feeling inspired to try more often to get him to the two Catholic homeschooler groups' Monday morning play date at a park and Friday afternoon co-op/play time at our parish. So, today I took the children to the park at the appointed time for the play date, but it happened to be a week when none of the homeschooling mothers showed up, which happens sometimes. The children had so much fun and John is clearly blossoming with extending friendliness to other kids. He palled around with one boy ("who also had a red jacket, just like me!") and I heard him invite the boy to sit with us at lunch and later say farewell, "I had fun playing with you!" The kids also did beautifully with listening to my expectations before we got out of the car, then following them (coming when called, sharing with other children, pausing to eat when I told them it was time for lunch, and not whining when it was time to leave the park--and we would be losing park privileges if these expectations were broken).

Sadly, it seems that every time we go to some public place like this, my kids meet bullies/untrained kids. I just hate it! At one point Mary was walking along a path between play structures and a child bigger than her (but probably a bit younger) was walking towards us, going the opposite direction. Even as he approached, the mother (walking too far behind) called out, "You'd better be nice to that girl!" Clearly, the mother must have known the toddler's habits because the boy walked straight up to Mary and pushed her hard with nary a word.

Then later a boy who I judged to be about six months younger than John was mean to him, even though his mother was standing right there the whole time. I had to be following Mary around to make sure she didn't get hurt, so I couldn't be guarding John as closely. John was playing on a two-seater dinosaur riding toy which he had heretofore happily shared with many kids. I was able to hear that the boy "made" John get off the dinosaur (by commanding him to get off and John doesn't know better but to listen), then kept telling John that he was not allowed to feed the dinosaur wood chips and that the dinosaur was his. I don't know mother politics, so I remain unsure about what I'm supposed to do about verbal meanness that isn't outright name-calling and isn't physical harm. The mother was standing five feet away watching and doing nothing: is that normal? Then after five minutes of this junk, John called to me and asked, please, was he allowed to get on the dinosaur (which nobody was now sitting on)? I said, of course he was, nobody is on it. He said almost in tears, "That boy said it was his and I wasn't allowed to use it any more." And the mother is still standing there, doing nothing. Then the boy said a few more things and it was time for us to leave anyway. I don't know what to do! I don't want to treat my children with kid gloves and make them look like babies out in public, which at some age will embarrass them. But I don't want to leave them defenseless either. All I know is that if my child were being a brat to another child, my response would be swift and serious. So why do these other moms seem to think it's okay?

Maybe I'm being oversensitive. I've been a mama only four years so far and I still feel very distressed when anybody is unkind to my babies. Mama Bear growls loudly.

Happy patron saint day to Mary Genevieve: the feast of St. Genevieve!

I picked up this sweet wall hanging (of the guardian angel watching over a boy and girl crossing a bridge) at my favorite Catholic bookstore in California last summer.

You know you have a two-year-old when . . . you go to brush your teeth, unscrew the toothpaste cap, find the toothpaste clogged, and pull out an entire Q-tip which was completely submerged. Note to self: The new system of having locks on all the doorknobs works only as well as people remembering to close the doors!


  1. I'm going to have to check back and see what comments you get on this post, because I, too, am unsure of how to handle Theo being around bullyish kids. We take him out quite a bit, so we often witness similar situations to what you described with John and Mary. So far I've always stepped in and addressed Theo, without caring whether the other parent overhears and is offended. For example, I've had situations where other kids have pushed Theo out of the way on the slide, as they're older and quicker than he is. And when Theo started to cry, I stepped up and said something (somewhat loudly) to the effect that some kids didn't know that they needed to wait their turn, but that it was nice to take turns on the slide, and oh look--now it's your turn! Sometimes the kid in question (always older) has given me a dirty look, but I really couldn't care less. I figure my job is to teach Theo how to navigate in the world and treat people kindly and courteously, not to spare the feelings of some child who is being unkind or discourteous and is old enough to know better--nor is it to spare the feeling of parents that I think really aren't doing their job. And I figure he's going to come across rude people in the world, so I ought not sugar-coat it and make excuses for these kids--better to point out that their behavior isn't acceptable, so he knows not to emulate it.

    Interestingly, now that Theo's 2 1/2, I'm finding that he fights his own battles most of the time--and with a surprising amount of grace, actually. Another child recently tried to snatch a train away from him at a museum we visited, and Theo held his ground and kept the train, but did NOT hit or push the other child. (And given that he was a hitter as a younger tot, we were delighted to see that!)

    Anyway, I have even less experience as a mama than you do, so I will be curious to see what more experienced moms say about this topic. I'm really not sure whether I'm handling it correctly--just going by my gut....

  2. Cathleen: What you're doing with Theo sounds good. I'm also very interested in what more experienced mamas than us have to say.

  3. I tend to have the same strategy as Cathleen. I've never addressed another mother personally, but I will (perhaps passive aggressively) say things like, "That dinosaur belongs to everybody and of course you may use it no matter what anyone says." At playgroups or co-op where we do know everyone, we all kind of look out for each other's kids, so if another is mean to mine and the mom doesn't see, I feel okay addressing the child directly.

    It's very hard, and I have also had my kids back down when a mother isn't stepping in rather than get into circumventing the other child's unchecked behavior. Fortunately we haven't run into these situation TOO often!

  4. I have often encountered nastiness in public places with my children and I try to do what Cathleen stated, which is direct my child in the correct response, ie:"I know you had the toy first, you can ask for it back, or play with another toy, because it's not polite to grab toys from other people" or, "I don't know why that little boy is allowed to stand on the seat in a restaurant, but you may not. We need to use our manners in the restaurant." You sometimes get shot a dirty look by the parents or the older child, but I just try to explain to my kids that we follow our rules and don't care what rules, or lack of rules, the other child has. As for physical pushing I usually say something directly to the offending child, while giving enough time to make sure that the parent is not going to handle it. I might say to a two year old "Please don't push, it's not nice" in a calm voice. If it is a ten year old that is being pushy or mean I will say something less friendly and more to the point like, "You guys need to be careful over here, there are a lot of little kids around" or something.
    I don't understand the behavior of some parents and their children. I get kids in my store all the time that run around like crazy and don't listen to their parents. Then the mom will say "if you don't get out of the window that lady is going to get mad at you!" pointing at me! Here is a novel idea, take responsibility and get mad at your own child! Why are parents afraid to discipline their children? Are they afraid they won't like you? Well as the parent of a sphmore in high school I can guarranty that there will be days when they claim not to like you no matter how nice you are being and if you do not lay the foundation of respect early enough they will not respect OR like you at those times. Don't get me wrong, I am learning, still. Having a teenager is a whole new ball game, but it helps so much to have an established foundation of respect for my authority. You can't physically restrain a 15 year old like you can a two year old, so you better make sure they learn how to listen to you when they are little. I'm with you, I don't understand why parents think it is okay to let their kids behave that way, but all you can do is teach your child the right and wrong ways to handle the situation. At least we can be confident that when our children are out in the world without us they will know how to stick up for themselves while still respecting the rights and wishes of others. The kids look so cute in their park pictures by the way!

  5. I have done what Cathleen and the other moms have done, with talking to your own child about what is the right thing to do just loud enough for others to hear, but I have also talked directly to the child. Something simple like "Please be nice to my child." or "You are much bigger than my son/daughter, please be more careful." or "My son was first, you need to wait your turn." It is a very frustrating situation that we've probably all encountered and felt uncomfortable handling. Especially in this 'Politically Correct' world we live in that says we can do whatever we want, even push over little girls who didn't do anything.

  6. Hi Katherine, Your sharing frustration over the bad behavior of other children is a subject I believe can have a good end result. It often happened wherby my sons would come home from shcool with similar stories of acts directed toward them or simply witnessed toward another child. I found it a great teaching moment as well as an opportuntiy to pray for the offender. By praying for the other child, my own child quickly got the message that he was in no way at fault; moreover that he could deflect any effect of the name calling (i.e.), and keep his own self esteem in tact. The best result was that it curbed the behavior of my own child, sending the message that the offensive act is a matter worthy of prayer. Love, Mom