It is always touchy when your children are playing with new kids. Every parent is watching, some closer than others. Then it happens. One of the kids does something dangerous or mean and it is time for a parent to step in. The problem is, that child’s parents are nowhere to be seen. So what do you do?
Why I yelled
Let me tell you about what happened earlier today that got me thinking about this. We were at a local preschool gym class. The class had just ended and the kids were playing while the parents were getting shoes on and collecting our things. In the viewing area of the gym, there is a large box/bench that parents sit on, and kids climb on because they are kids.
My daughter and two other children had climbed on the backrest and were standing near the edge looking over the side. They were close to the edge, but after repeated warnings not to get too close, I wasn’t worried anyone was going to get hurt.
Then Jonny (not his real name) came over. Jonny is what we will call strong-willed. He doesn’t always play nice and is enough of an issue that, while he doesn’t play with my daughter, I still know his name. Well, he climbed up with the other kids, ok so far, and started to push. My daughter took a stutter step towards the edge but was able to catch herself.
I was on my feet and moving toward them before my daughter could turn to me. I yelled out in my deep baritone I use when I want to sound in control, “Jonny, NO, we don’t push.” The mom and dad who’s kids were playing with my daughter were now on their feet and joining me at the bench. I grabbed my daughter as they grabbed theirs. Jonny’s grandmother appeared and grabbed him. He started crying as she took him away. I am not sure if he was crying due to me yelling or due to his grandmother taking him away.
I quickly turned and did something stupid. I started to explain myself to the other parents for yelling at Jonny. Not to Jonny’s parents or grandmother in this case, but to the other parents whose kids were playing with my daughter. I was trying to justify my actions. I wanted them to know what I saw and why I yelled at Jonny. I was apologizing for protecting my kid.
So, why did I apologize?
But why did I apologize at all? I did nothing wrong. If I allowed it to continue my daughter or one of the other preschoolers could have been hurt. Yet I was compelled to apologize for correcting someone else’s kid. I was worried that in yelling at a child who wasn’t mine, yet clearly in the wrong, I would anger the parents around me.
Has it really come to this? Why we are so scared of each other? I know if the situation was reversed I would want someone to stop my girls from hurting someone. But maybe not. Maybe I would take offense. If I felt they were singling my daughter out, or if she wasn’t really doing anything wrong.
We need to get back to where we trust other parents. In my experience, rarely has any parent had it out for any other kids. If they need to tell the child to stop, or to settle down, just let it go. We need to stop being so protective, so worried about our kids, that we think any adult telling them to be careful is out to get them.
There is one exception to this rule. If you’re not helping her up, or saving her from a fall, don’t touch my child. That is the one thing I admit I am very uncomfortable with. Maybe a little growth on my part is needed there, but that one I am just not ready for.
Jonny’s grandmother never said anything to me about yelling, and I am glad. She may have been embarrassed, or thought I didn’t do anything wrong. Now that I’ve had some time to reflect, I don’t think I did anything wrong and I am no longer sorry. If Jonny would have hurt my daughter or one of the other girls, I would have felt worse that I did nothing than I did for yelling at him. He needs to learn and someone needs to teach him. If I scared him, oh well. Maybe next time he won’t push the girls around.
How about you? Have you ever had to yell at a stranger’s child? How did the parents react? How did you feel about it? Leave a message in the comments below.