Yesterday I read an interesting blog post from a mom praising a stranger for disciplining her son on the playground. The boy had stepped out of line, and since the mom wasn’t available to witness or take action, the stranger whose daughter was wronged spoke up and reprimanded the boy (respectively, from how it sounds).
Look, I get it. We can’t be everywhere at once. Since the mom wasn’t there, someone else stepped in her place and made the executive decision to speak up. It takes a village, right?
In fact, if it were my son doing the wrong-doing, I don’t think I would be mortified to get some assistance from another parent if I wasn’t available. As long as it was done respectively and as a means of teaching good behavior, I think it would ok.
But let me approach this from a different perspective.
Yesterday, I attended Gymboree with my son. At Gymboree, parents are expected to be within “hugs distance” of their child at all times. Considering the environment, this is sensible and keeps things moving in a room with a dozen 2-year olds and play structures galore. One mother, however, was texting on her phone the entire 45 minutes. She’d look up every few minutes to see her son at the other end of the room, far from “hugs distance,” and would casually continue her phone activity.
First, let me say I don’t give a hoot that she was checking her phone. I check my phone pretty much all day, so I’m not one to judge. But the problem was she wasn’t just checking it, she was absorbed in it while her son, a very sweet boy but also a typical 2-year-old, was cutting in line for the activities, taking things out of other kids’ hands, and generally disrupting the structured activities. He was doing exactly what any 2-year-old would be doing if their parent wasn’t standing two feet away.
What were the other parents suppose to do? Most of the time, I ignored it. But when it involved my son, that’s when things got awkward. Was I really expected to take on the role of his parent, because his mom was otherwise engaged? I’m responsible for my 2-year-old and the newborn in my baby carrier. I’m not interested in babysitting her kid, as well. I’m also not comfortable with it. I don’t know how that mom approaches discipline. What if it’s completely different than my approach? Then, I’m confusing the child and potentially pissing off the parent. No, thank you!
Not to mention the message it sends to my son. When my son cuts in line, it’s not okay. But when this other boy does, it’s all good? How confusing is that?
In the end, everything worked out. No one got hurt. No one left crying. The mom left with her son to resume their day without a second thought. But I left wondering if I should have said something.
Please don’t expect me to disciple your child. Let me take care of my children, and you take care of yours. If you need help, I’ll come running. And if you’re tending to one kid and can’t watch the other for a minute, I know exactly how you feel. But if you have better things to do than watch your kids for an extended period of time, please don’t expect everyone else to pick up your slack. That’s just not fair.
Should I have spoken up? Would you have? Do you disagree with me? I’d love to hear your thoughts.