I’m not a stay at home dad, instead I play the weeknight weekend (WNWE) gig with gusto, throwing myself into the Illiterate family’s life as enthusiastically as possible. There’s been countless pluses; I’ve seen a little person grow in front of my eyes, I’ve made connections with people I never expected, I’ve grown closer to my wife than I ever thought possible and most unexpectedly, realised I love kids.
This was proven to me beyond a doubt when I attended the ‘Grand Opening’ of my local go-there-for-one-thing-come-out-two-hours-later-with-a-socket-set-and-a-new-drill-and-an-out-door-speaker-system hardware store. While there we met up with some good friends we’ve made through my wife’s mothers group and without thinking I went straight over to their little girls to give monster tickles and cuddles. They giggled, I giggled and then they all starting squealing together – as I said – I love kids.
Before you all start saying ‘I tell you, that Kev, he’s pretty much close to perfect. Why if I wasn’t already with <insert appropriate name>…’ in fairness to any partners, I need to point out that I’m not quite that. You see I may love the kids I know, that I’ve seen growing up, that I’ve created relationships with but the little B1$#* at the local shopping centre play area I met last weekend could contract an embarrassing but non-fatal disease all I care! Seriously, at the time I was hoping she would hurt herself. Not ‘hospital’ hurt but enough for her to have to be carried out of the play area by her mother (who had dumped the devil spawn in the play area).
This girl was about 2 years older than mine and mean. Like really mean. Like “I’m going to belittle everything you do mean” and “I’m going to take all the people you were playing away from you and tell you you can’t play with them” or “you can’t do anything because your just a baby, and my brothers better than yours and that’s not even a proper cartwheel” mean.
As an aforementioned WNWE I found myself unprepared for this behaviour. Unprepared for witnessing a future B1$#* in training and unprepared for not seeing a parent diving in and asking, quite plainly, “who do you think you are acting like that!?”
My wife was also aware of the situation. I mentioned to her that I’d love to give that 4 year old a piece of my mind but she calmly said (as someone used to seeing the day-to-day drama of kids relating would) not to intervene. Instead she caught Miss 2.5’s attention and said “lets go play somewhere else”. When the future Miranda Priestly came up to Mrs Illiterate to enquire as to where we were going, my wife calmly responded “you’re not being very nice so we are going to play somewhere else”.
While walking away I asked Mrs II what the rules were? How would she have acted if devil spawns mother had appeared? Would she say anything. Mrs II said that she wouldn’t say anything unless she was asked how the girl in question had been behaving. And even if asked, Mrs II would first need to gauge how open the mother was to ‘constructive feed-back’. In Mrs II’s experience this means that about 50% of the time, she’ll be able to subtly say “I’m not sure that he/she been playing as nicely as she could”. Mrs II also pointed out that you need to be equally open to the same ‘constructive feedback’.
So what are the rules? In discussing this post with my wife she made the comment that as a parent, it’s your job to advocate for your child, especially when they are too young to do it themselves. There’s a part of me that thinks they’ve got to learn to stand up for themselves but when should that be? Do you step in? Do you tell other parents that the light of their life is far less perfect than they thought?
As always, linking up this Tuesday with Jess’ IBOT at essentiallyjess