My daughter’s fifth birthday was a big deal. Jenny has had health problems, but is alright now. Nevertheless, the whole horrible experience made us value our children, and life, all the more.
For her birthday, she was allowed to pick what we did. She chose a local play place which she loves, called Pandamonium in Erskine. Close family came along, which included aunts, grandparents and cousins. They were having a whale of a time.
After we’d been there a while, I looked over to see Jenny talking to her aunt. A small boy walked past and I heard her aunt shout at him. I jumped up to see what had happened. The boy had apparently smacked Jenny across the face, twice. She hadn’t been talking to him or interacting with him. She just happened to be there when he walked past. Her face was burning red.
I saw the boy at a long table with a bunch of mums. I went over and asked who the child’s mother was. A woman turned around and said she was the boy’s mum. I explained that her boy had, unprovoked, slapped Jenny a couple of times. The woman was not bothered at all.
She said “I’m sure it was done with no malice. He’s only two”. An apology was spat out, but its insincerity just riled me up.
I understand the boy is only two. Two year olds do that – it’s a fact of life. Kids will be kids. What’s important – and how the child learns – is that when it does happen, you tell them that what they did is wrong.
What made me so angry here was the mother’s attitude. She made me feel like an idiot. So, here I was, in an extremely awkward situation and feeling the anger rise. My mind was racing.
Keep things in context, I thought. Jenny was shocked but she wasn’t crying, but I am fiercely protective. Had the woman apologised sincerely or looked remorseful then I would have probably accepted it and moved on. This lady, however, hadn’t even spoken to her son to tell him that what he did was wrong.
So, I’ve got the devil on my shoulder saying “what would Tony Soprano do?” and giving me mental images of pouring a jug of blackcurrant juice into her handbag and over her head. Actually, Tony would probably send folk around to her house with baseball bats. That’s probably a tad excessive.
I don’t want to ruin Jenny’s day so I just walk away.
Jenny’s cousins took her away and she played. You have to understand, Jenny wouldn’t hurt a fly. If there’s ever someone that’s upsetting her, she doesn’t lash out. She comes and tells us. Every time.
Two days later, we were at a restaurant with a soft play area. We hadn’t been there long when I turned in time to see my other young daughter, Eve, get her face scratched by another child. I went to see her. She was upset and had a cut next to her eye.
I was furious. Eve isn’t like Jenny. Eve can defend herself a bit, but this time she was too shocked. Despite this, I didn’t want to take her out the soft play and I didn’t want to see her dad make a big deal, so I let her go back. I told Eve’s cousins to keep an eye out for the boy who did it.
This has left me thinking a great deal about how to best deal with the situation. I’m genuinely stumped, for a number of reasons.
Ideally, I’d like to be able to just tell the child’s parents about what had happened and have them deal with it, but (as is detailed above), some parents just don’t care. Eve wouldn’t lash our herself, but she would defend herself physically if it came down to it. That causes me stress because I don’t want to be the one facing an angry parent, no matter who hit who first.
My children should not have to miss out on soft play because of the actions of some horrible kids, so avoiding these places is a no-no.
I settled on standing right next to the play area and watching as the kids played. It probably looked quite over-bearing but it gave my kids the confidence to enjoy themselves. The other children seemed to be aware of an adult presence and certainly seemed less wild with me there.
It’s difficult, finding a balance. A balance between letting the kids go and have fun, and wanting to stand over them all the time. The more independence they get, the quicker they’ll learn things for themselves. I’ll just be there for when they need me, and I think that’s (hopefully) one of the things that makes for a decent parent.
Edit: I understand this is a hot topic. I’m curious as to how you would deal with the situation I was in…