Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Friday, May 11, 2007

It Doesn't Take a Village so Lay Off My Kid

Yeah, yeah, I know how the old adage goes, but I think it's bunk, frankly.

I don't like other people disciplining my children.

I'm a pretty vigilant Mom. I have to be with Diminutive One. If my kids are misbehaving, I'm pretty swift to step in and resolve the issue. I'm not "that Mom" who chatters blithely or buries her nose in a book while her offpsring wreak havoc and terrorize other children.

As they get older and I afford them a little more freedom, there are times that they are out of my immediate line of sight. For instance, at the ballpark. If one child is playing ball, the other is allowed to roam pretty freely. The park is comprised of four fields situated in a circular fashion, with the concession stand in the center. From any one field, I can see two of the other four. We've been playing at this park for 7 years and we know so many people there that I feel confident that if one of my children were injured, or engaging in dangerous behavior, they would intervene.

And I have no problem with another adult stepping in to stop dangerous behavior if I am noticeably absent.

But I do take exception to someone yelling at or attempting to discipline my child when I am standing right there. In such an instance, I expect any adult witnessing the behavior to come to me, relay the necessary information and let me handle it.

I know that this is a somewhat controversial stance. Some people feel that any adult has the right and the responsibility to step in when children, even those not their own, are misbehaving. And really...I guess it doesn't bother me if the adult in question can be counted on to act rationally and fairly and dispense justice in an appropriate, non-threatening manner.

But not all adults can, and that's where the real problem lies, I suppose.

Last night at the ballpark, Pre-Pubescent One was playing ball, and Diminutive One was running with a pack of ballpark kids. They were playing tag, playing catch, goofing off...standard kid stuff. At one point, they began to throw gravel, which every kid in the park has been told at least a bzillion times, not to do.

They were playing mere feet from where I sat, but because my oldest child was pitching and I was engrossed in watching him, I was unaware of what was going on.

A Coach, one that we know and has in fact, been my oldest son's Allstar Coach for the past two summers, began screaming at Diminutive One and berating him for his behavior. He has a history of this sort of thing, and both Husband and I have had to ask him numerous times not to do it. He's an asshole, but that's really neither here nor there.

The point is...it ANGERED me. I was sitting right there. It's true, I did not see what was going on, but all he had to do was tap me on the shoulder and let me know. The gravel is very small, not big enough to hurt anyone, really. And they weren't throwing it at anybody, just throwing it up to hear the clatter of stones as they rained down onto the cement. It was just kids being kids. It did not warrant that kind of violent reaction.

A simple..."Hey you kids, stop throwing gravel." would have sufficed. I probably wouldn't have batted an eyelash if another adult had said such a thing. But for someone to bear down on my child like a freight train, eyes bulging, veins popping, hurling invective....

I won't get it into all the sordid details, but let's just say...we had words.

I was calm, but firm. He was indignant.

He thought it his God given right to discipline an errant child. I thought it highly rude and presumptuous of him.

To be clear, I have on occasion, chastised children not my own for their behavior. But whenever possible and/or appropriate (meaning, no threat to life or limb is incipient) I try to locate their parent or caregiver, inform them, and then let them decide how to handle the situation.

I'm wondering how others feel about the issue. Perhaps I am over-sensitive to it because of my concerns over Diminutive One's behavior and how people perceive him. Perhaps, deep down, it feels like a judgement of my parenting when someone takes it upon themselves to admonish either of my boys. Maybe it's just a simple matter of maternal protectiveness. I don't know.

But I do know that nobody has the right to scream at my children except me. At least I do it with love.

Sorta.

Mostly.

A little bit.

12 Comments:

  • At 12:25 AM, Blogger GettingThereNow said…

    I don't like to discipline other people's kids in front of them either - because I think it is THEIR responsibility. Also, I don't like someone else yelling at my kid. I don't mind them disciplining her gently or matter-of-factly, but yelling is a BIG NO-NO. I would, though, tell someone else's kid to stop doing something if it were dangerous for that kid or other kids around him/her. And, like you, I believe only I can yell at my kid - no one else has the right to do so.

     
  • At 7:06 AM, Blogger Kerry said…

    I think the phrase, "it takes a village..." has gained popularity with the "hey, it's not my fault my kid misbehaves" group. You know what it takes? It takes a family. It takes a responsible parent, that's what it takes. And as for yelling at another person's kid, I don't do it and I don't want anyone else to do it. I'm perfectly ready, willing, and able to scream at my own son and don't want to miss any oppourunitiy to do so, lol.

     
  • At 10:36 AM, Blogger jen said…

    I don't have much experience with this sort of thing, but i do know i'd never yell at someone else's kid. i try not to even yell at mine.

    i would be upset, too. i would have wanted that person to say, hey, make your kid stop. and i would, as you would, immediately.

    yep. i'd be pissed, too.

     
  • At 2:50 PM, Blogger mamatulip said…

    I don't have much experience in this either (yet?), but yeah, if someone came down like that on one of my kids when I was within earshot, I'd be pissed. Completely.

     
  • At 7:06 PM, Blogger Mrs. Chicky said…

    One of my girlfriends, and she's lucky I still call her that, scolded Chicky a few weeks ago. In front of me. I got my hackles up, I can tell you that, so I see where you're coming from.

     
  • At 7:37 PM, Blogger bubandpie said…

    I have a hard time making myself even mildly admonish other people's children, even when they're very small and the parents are not present - so yeah, that guy's behaviour lies WAY, WAY outside the acceptable range for me.

     
  • At 8:02 PM, Anonymous doodaddy said…

    I think the trick is that you shouldn't over-discipline someone else's child. Screaming is never appropriate (unless for some reason the screaming is necessary to stop a rampaging elephant). When I was teaching, I frequently had to discipline other people's children, but I don't think they would've described it later as "discipline. I was teaching. My attitudes and responses were appropriate to the situation at hand. Going overboard with kids only teaches them to go overboard themselves, not how to appropriately handle situations.

     
  • At 8:14 PM, Blogger Ruth Dynamite said…

    Grrrr. No one disciplines my child but me - when I'm RIGHT THERE!

     
  • At 2:38 AM, Blogger margalit said…

    I have a good friend whose kids are HORRIBLY behaved. I mean HORRIBLE. You just can't imagine how bad they are. She is totally and completely inconsistant with punishment, if there ever is any, and rarely pays any attention to her kids as long as they aren't bothering her. Her husband is abusive and screams and hits the kids. She's a slapper.

    She has, on several occasions, slapped one of my kids. Usually on the hand, but if you think you got mad, you just can't even imagine the ire I had when she HIT MY KID. I've told her over and over again that we don't hit and I can discipline my kids just fine. But she still butts in. Now, I have an agreement with my kids. Whenever she yells at them to do something, I'll tell them they don't have to unless I ask them. Right in front of her. She's learning. It's taken 14 years, but she's learning.

    Compared to her kids, mine are just golden, but she constantly compares them and assumes that mine are as badly behaved as hers. Um... no way, Jose!

     
  • At 11:19 AM, Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said…

    I agree with you 100%. We were just a birthday party and the kids were throwing gravel up the slide and one of the moms yelled over, "Hey guys, don't throw the gravel, it may get in someones eyes". Kids stopped, & I was totally fine with this. But, to scream at children for being, well, kids, is inappropriate.

    I have a hard time with really extreme anger at kids regardless of the adult, even if it is a parent doing it. A parent that screams and yells while in front of a 'jury' of other adults is bound to do much more when in the privacy of their own home.

     
  • At 2:28 PM, Blogger Oh, The Joys said…

    I don't seem to mind when other adults intervene - reasonably. I think I would be furious if another adult screamed at my children.

     
  • At 11:53 AM, Blogger Avalon said…

    I would have more of a problem with the WAY he intervened. If he had either informed you, or just told the kids that throwing gravel could be dangerous, that would have been fine. But to scream at the kid. I would have had my foot halfway up his............

    You get the picture.

     

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