Look. I try to have a sense of humor about life in general. I feel like I'm pretty clear on my faults-o-plenty, and I (most of the time) can have a pretty good laugh at myself and some of my inane hangups. Case in point: when I load the dishwasher, I have to separate the silverware tray by utensil. We have a five compartment silverware holder. One is for spoons, one for forks, one for knives, one for the kids' utensils and the sippy cup valves, and one for 'other' like spatulas, serving spoons, and such.
If someone else is loading the dishwasher and does not put the stuff in according to my system? I don't freak out or rearrange it. It just makes it easier to put away when it's already pre-sorted. See how go with the flow I can be? I'm laid back, people!
It's sort of the same thing about parenting. I have my way of doing things, and while it (mostly) works for us, I'm always open to suggestions or ideas. Lord knows there are days when I really could use a fresh approach. Like the days that end with -day. I also applaud that there are parents that do things very differently then we do. Some of the things that have worked best with the kids have been ideas I have 'borrowed' from other moms. First one that deserves credit is Marci's tips on keeping T busy on the 10 hour flight back to Germany when he was 2. Those ideas worked like a charm. (Aquadoodles, snacks, clear fingernail polish, and sticker books if you were wondering)
So today, when I took the kids to this open playgroup thing I recently found out about, I was prepared for a few things.
1) It was going to to be crowded since the local schools were out for a teacher conference
2) My kids would pretty much want to be on opposite ends of the gymnasium from each other all the time
3) Other kids and parents there may not share my ideas on what was 'fair' or what 'take turns' means.
For the most part, I was pretty on target. There were lots of kids there of all ages and since T is the rougher of my two, I wanted to keep a closer eye on him. Sometimes, with his behavioral and sensory issues, he gets so wrapped up in the excitement of being set free to run and jump and bounce and roll around that he forgets to watch where his body is spatially. By that I mean that if there's a ball pit and he's wound up and all excited that he actually gets to run and jump into something without being fussed at, he doesn't always remember to make sure everyone is totally out of the way. Or, he remembers mid air and then it's too late to change his trajectory. Older kids can see him coming and move, but the smaller ones can't. So, I wanted to physically be closer to him to make sure he didn't get too wound up.
Things were going well. I was able to keep a close eye on T to remind him to calm down a bit when he started to get too frenetic. He and S actually ended up doing more things together than I expected. Their favorite things today were the rings. The kids that were over there the first time we played there were great about taking turns. I love it when this happens, because it reinforces what I'm trying to teach my kids. For whatever reason, I can tell them 100 times but they absorb it when someone else tells them or demonstrates it. Hey, as long as the message sinks in, I don't care how it happens. Mostly.
On our second or third visit to the rings, there was this kid there. He was about T's size, so I figure they were about the same age. This kid, who was wearing a red shirt, was a bit pushy. He shoved in front of some smaller kids to have a turn on the rings. We had just walked up, so I didn't really know what the deal was, but you know those kids you see and there's just...something...about them that doesn't sit right with you? Well, that's what caught my attention. As we walk up, this kid grabs the rings and starts swinging. No problem, that's what they are there for. He's trying to flip upside down on them but is having a little trouble. So when he stays and stays on there, I don't think that much about it at first. Some of the other kids that were there when we walked up left, so my kids were getting excited that their turn was going to come faster. Except he wouldn't get off the rings.
After we'd watched him for at least five minutes, T said, "Hey, I want a turn."
That was, I felt, a pretty reasonable statement.
Red shirt kid looks at him and says this, "You are NEVER going to get a turn. NEVER. NEVER EVER!" and then he makes this ugly face at my kids.
Oh-ho. Really, red shirt kid?
So I say to the kid, "That's not very nice. We are all going to take turns with the rings."
He looks at me and says, "I'm not getting off. He (meaning T) is never going to have a turn!" And then he sticks his tongue out at me.
I generally don't offer guidance or discipline to other people's kids. Unless it's a no brainer like hitting, biting, running into traffic, or destruction of property, I have a fairly wide range of tolerance. To each their own and all that. As long as no one is in danger of being injured, I'm pretty much okay with whatever. If I know the parents and know that they expect me to say something to their kids if they get out of line, then I have no problem with that.
But I don't know this kid or his parents. But his behavior? Not okay.
So I look at him and say, "That was a ugly thing to do. You've been on the rings for more than five minutes. You need to let someone else have a turn."
I don't look away. He doesn't look away.
I continue..."you need to get off the rings and either wait for another turn or find something else you want to do. Now, go on."
Now go on? AAAAAACCCCCCK. Flashbacks to my childhood and the elderly aunt patrol. When our family got together, that's what all the kids were told. Now go on. Even if we were behaving beautifully. ::Snort::
The kid does move on, over to where his mom is standing, talking to a group of other moms.
I stay at the rings with my two and the other five or six kids that are waiting to use the rings too. With no one jumping in line and staying on the rings for a really long time, the kids are all cycling through their turns on the rings really well and with no drama.
The kid in the red shirt comes back over with one of the moms who was talking to his mom and two other girls.
The kid in the red shirt jumps back on the rings without really waiting his turn. In all fairness, I need to mention that there wasn't exactly a line, but it was pretty obvious that there was another little girl waiting to go next.
I look at the other mom wondering if she's going to say something.
The answer to that? Is no.
Nor does she say anything when he stays and stays and stays on the rings. Again.
So, again, I say, "You've been on the rings for a pretty long time. Let's let some of the smaller kids have a turn, okay?"
He does get off the rings, but the other mom then puts one of the girls (her kids) that walked over with them on the rings. And then she puts her other kid on after that.
And then the kid in the red shirt tries to get on the rings again. All these other little kids have been waiting (and shafted, imho) for their turn, so I say, "Hang on a second. It's her turn." And I put the little girl who's turn it was three kids ago on the rings. And the rotation continues. The other mom still kind of stands there, but doesn't say or do anything, so I keep moving the kids on and off the rings. And then it's T's turn. The kid in the red shirt jumps on the rings again. T, who is frustrated by this point, says, "HEY! It's my turn!"
The kid in the red shirt says, again, "You're never going to get a turn!"
T starts to cry and plops down on the floor. As I reach out to pat his back and say something, the kid in the red shirt says, "Why is he such a baby? He's a big crybaby."
Hello other mom? Anything? No?!? Okay then...
I say, "That's a mean thing to say. Shame on you. You've been jumping in front of all these little kids and taking really long turns. My kids and all these kids (insert semi-flailing/pointing wild arm gesturing) have been playing nicely and taking turns. Not only do you take away someone elses turn, then you have to be mean to them when they get upset. That's bullying behavior. Go find something else to do."
He looks at the other mom, who looks at him and then at me. I know she heard me, we weren't far apart. After a few seconds, she says, "Come on. Let's go find your mom. It's almost time to go anyway." He leaves with her without another word.
WTH was all that about? I have a bunch of why questions running through my head: why was that other mom with him at the rings instead of his mom? why was she going to let him behave like that? why, if he can behave nicely, was no one making him do so at the rings? why? why? why?
I guess I'll never know.