Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Parenting other people’s children

I’ve never professed to be the perfect mom. In fact I don’t even think she exists. Besides, who defines perfection as it relates to parenting children. Who cares if dinner wasn’t comprised of the four food groups each and every night? Who cares if bedtime wasn’t at precisely 8:00 each night? There is no magic parenting manual and for every parenting manual out there, I guarantee there is another that disputes much of the material contained in the first manual. In my mind if I raise well mannered, compassionate, thoughtful and respectful young adults then I will have done a good job.

I also don’t hold other parents to unrealistically high standards . Before I had kids and heard a screaming child in a store I couldn’t imagine why the parent wasn’t “controlling” the child. Now that I have kids of my own I know the reality of it is that kids do that. And while yes it is up to the parent to try and correct certain behaviors sometimes she just really needs that one thing, and there is no one to watch her child while she runs to the store. So I try and cut that mom some slack. Because I’ve been there.
But what I refuse to try and understand and cut slack for is rudeness in children. Specifically, children that are old enough to know better.

Friday evening, as I was helping my son learn how to inline skate one of the little neighborhood girls who’d been playing with my kids for some time looks at me and says
“You should exercise.”

A little taken aback but not knowing where this was going I answered her honestly and said “I try to when I can.”

My honesty was rewarded with “You should lose some weight, then you can be skinny just like me”. Mind you this little girl borders on unhealthily skinny but I thought two things 1) WTF and 2) as she went on about how skinny and wonderful she was, she is an eating disorder waiting to happen.


Sure I could stand to lose a few lbs. But that wasn’t the point. The point was that she actually uttered those rude, obnoxious comments. It took me a while to regain my composure. So I stood there for a moment silent.
Then I calmly asked this bold 9 year old “Eva, did anyone tell you that it’s rude to tell people they need to lose weight”

“No, I didn’t know” she replied.

“Well it is” I said and with that I told the twins it was time to go in. But of course I stewed on it. Several glasses of wine later and some ranting to my mom, my sister and my bff I was on the mend.

Then Saturday hit and we agreed to watch the son of a casual acquaintance. We’d initially been told it would only be for a couple of hours and when last, Jay, was over he was generally a well behaved child and the twins enjoyed playing with him.
Saturday,Jay was a terror.
On the way back from picking Jay up I asked hubby to stop by the store. Apparently Jay asked for everything. My husband, being the softie that he is, agreed to buy a six pack of yogurt drinks and even a toy for Jay (and B & J of course). When they arrived home Jay told me to tell my kids not to drink the yogurt drinks because he was taking them home. Then he proceeded to use up all the web “goo” in the Spiderman toy that hubby bought for B and wouldn’t give it back nor would he share the toy, that hubby bought him, with the twins.
He hogged the swing set- telling the twins they were not allowed to swing on it. When they were playing house he assigned the roles and told my daughter she could not play if she was not the mom. She wasn’t allowed to play the sister. He slammed doors in my children’s faces, took toys away from them, tried to pit them against one another, you name it he did it. Jay is 7.
Hubby and I both had to talk to Jay about good manners.
When his mom returned to pick him up, 6 hours later, she didn’t thank us or ask how Jay was. She grabbed him and pretty much took off.
Jay will not be returning.


Why was I forced to teach these children their behavior was not ok? Shouldn’t those basic teachings have come from the parent?
I teach my kids that good manners are important. I teach them that rudeness is not ok. I try and teach them that sharing and playing nice with others is fun.

No I am not the perfect parent and I don’t profess to be

But heed my advice - Teach your child basic courtesy, basic manners and respect.

Because if I have to parent your children, you may not like what they come home saying about you.


Candace said...

oy. my big fear is that my child will be out of my care and act horribly. I suppose on some occasion, it's bound to happen. We all have days we are not proud of. But that is the key, teaching them what behaviour is appropriate so they know in their heart and conscience when they have f-d up.
sorry you had to deal with such a snot-nosed whiny beeyatch child. Fantastic post! I'm about to parent the twin boys on my daughter's soccer team and the mom is there! Biting my tongue! How can she watch it go on. At least ACT like you care. PRETEND! We are raising a future generation here. Ok, I should just go rant on my blog. I've taken enough of your comment space up......

Butrfly Garden said...

Bravo, Worker Mommy!

Kids WILL be kids, and they are bound to say rude things, but being consistently rude is a sure sign of Manner Neglect.

I know some parents feel like they're doing their kids a favor by letting things like that slide and not 'harping' on them, but they aren't. I've seen what those kids grow up to be.

We have a girl that would call here and say "Where's Sunshine?" and if I said she couldn't come to the phone, she'd throw a fit. Now, Sunshine is at the age where she's starting to use the phone, so when she wants to call her friends, she FIRST HAS TO ASK, so I know she's using the phone, then I help her make sure she's dialing the right number and tell her, "When they answer, say, 'Hi this is Sunshine, is Ashley there?" Just my example of how manners should be taught - by PARENTS.

(But thank-you, wm for taking on the ones left behind!) ;)

Butrfly Garden said...

OH, haha, I forgot to add that one day, I told that girl that she was very rude and TOLD her how to ask for Sunshine. I said if she was going to be rude again to just not call.

Anonymous said...

Love this post.

Trenches of Mommyhood said...

I swear my boyz save all the rudeness for me. Everyone else professes that they're perfect gentlemen. So I guess that's a good thing.

CDP said...

Oh my. We have one right across the street. There are issues in her family and the poor child is lonesome and bored, so when she wants to play with my children, I invite her in, but I'm always at my wits' end when she leaves. Last time she was over, I finally sent her home when she wandered off and I found her in my bedroom examining the contents of my closet. I would die of embarrassment if one of my children behaved disrespectfully in someone else’s care, and I would hope that someone would tell me, but in the case of our little girl across the street and your two, I don’t think that would do any good at all. Sometimes, children who have been taught better behave badly anyway, but sometimes you just know that they really haven’t been taught better. A 9-year-old girl who would tell anyone, let alone an adult, that she needs to lose weight, has obviously been hearing snide comments about other people’s weight in her own home since infancy (and that’s a whole ‘nother subject, too. Don’t get me started on the people who think that the “obesity epidemic” is official license to make mean-spirited comments about other people’s bodies).

Worker Mommy said...

Butrfly, you are right in that kids will occasionally make a rude comment and I'm willing to be tolerant of that - but this little girl Eva has a history . She's said other rude things to me and other kids. With Jay I guess thinking back I saw signs of rudeness when he was over the 1st time. What really frustrated me was that he was consistently rude all day - even after being talked to.
At 9 & 7 - I sincerely hope kids would know better.

Mishel said...

OMG! It's like you wrote the words that were in my brain!

Oh, The Joys said...

You and I are alike... they say it takes a village to raise a child? Well I act like the CHIEF.

Anonymous said...

to be honest with you, I really don't feel like cleaning the fish tank tonight, so I'm letting my kid play his video game that was supposed to be a reward for that job, and I just want to go to sleep, I suck as a parent, DAMMIT

Anonymous said...

seriously though, I haven't ran across too many rude kids, and thankfully mine is really polite when he goes other places...I've even got comments on how he clears his dishes after eating, and that is one of my pet peeves, his friends who leave their trash lying around, and or kids who get up from the table, walk off and leave their dirty dishes...I"m not the friggin maid. Wait til the twins are old enough to have kids over for sleepovers, boy howdy the friends pull all sorts of crap.. worst one was the kid who called his mom at 6am and asked her to come get him, we were all sleeping, and he helped himself to our cell phone. so we awakened to his mom at our door, and gone was the friend my son was going to hang with that day. that really pissed me off.

Virtualsprite said...

I can't agree with you more. Children need to learn manners and it's a shame when parents don't teach them. Of course, sometimes the parents have even worse manners than the kids, so I guess I can figure out where they got it from.

But that doesn't mean I'm going to tolerate it in my house. Sam had some friends over and they were being really noisy, so I went into her room and told them to hold it down. The one girl actually yelled at me and told me I needed to knock. I just looked at her and said, "It's my house and I don't have to knock. If you want to stay here, you will follow my rules."

She didn't speak to me for the rest of the night. I haven't allowed her back.

slackermommy said...

I totally agree but after reading this I feel a little worried about what my 7 year old might say to someone about their body. Here's the weird thing. I swear she was born an anorexic. I've always said I don't breed well and she's an example of that. As an infant she was finicky about nursing when I ate certain foods and weaned herself probably because she did not like how my milk tasted. She's been an extremely picky eater and has some sensory issues. She's very tiny and is very concerned about eating healthy or looking fat. It worries me to death. My other children do not have these views at all. In fact my oldest overeats and I'm of average height and weight. I love to eat and don't eat as healthy as I should. I do not diet or talk about dieting in front of my kids. My best friend is very overweight so I haven't taught her to be fat prejudiced. But she is and it concerns me. I've caught her laughing at fat people. I've talked to her about how wrong that is and that people come in all shapes and sizes. Was she born with these thought processes? Are some children more prone to eating disorders not only by environment but born with a gene or personality trait? The only person who has ever given my kids negative body image input was my mom which is one of the reasons we don't see her anymore. She's overweight, diets often and would ask my kids if they thought she was fat. Sorry to lay this on you but that little girl's comment to you worries me since she seemed to not understand what she said was wrong or hurtful. I would be mortified if mine ever said that to someone. You handled her well. I hope if my daughter ever says that to someone that they set her straight.

God, parenting can really suck.

Mel said...

Fabulous post, and so right on with what I've been dealing with lately. We teach our daughter to have good manners, be polite, friendly, and helpful. For the most part, her friends are just as well behaved. Every once in a while, though, we encounter a kid whose parents seem to have...well, just given up. I fully appreciate that some kids are more difficult than others--we've been blessed with a pretty easy kid. It irks me, though, that we spend so much time teaching our daughter to behave like a decent human being, and then have to explain other childrens' bad behavior to her. I have a hard time stepping in and trying to moderate other kids' behavior: I usually stand stand there aghast. Don't get me wrong: my kid isn't perfect. But we're doing all we can to make sure she's a civilized person!

Alex Elliot said...

I feel stressed for you. I think the rude kids come from rude parents. I think that kids don't always know what's right and wrong depending on how small they are (but that girl was old enough to know better.) They do model themselves after their parents. In other words, I wouldn't be surprised if that girl's mom makes snide and rude comments about other people in front of her daughter leaving her daughter to think that it's first of all OK to do and second of all it's alright to say that to someone. Same thing with the boy you were watching. After all his mom didn't even say thank you. That lack of speech speaks volumes.

Another thing I've found is many times parents of rude kids refuse to believe that their kids were rude. I had one kid call me fat when I was pregnant and after consideration, I decided not to bring it up with his mom. The reason why is that the same kid made an obnoxious comment to a friend of mine on how big her breasts were and the mom defended her kid by saying that her child was right!!!

Fourier Analyst said...

Don't get me started on the rudeness that seems to be rampant in Dutch children and society in general. You cannot imagine the confrontations I have had with Dutch parents (neighbors!) about their rude children. At times we have been terrorized by midnight doorbell-ringing, eggs, apples & tomatoes thrown against the house, vandalism towards cars and outdoor plants, etc. Told you not to get me started!! I take the "It takes a village.." saying literally and do my bit to educate the kids around here because I know their parents are not doing a good enough job, for whatever reason. Keep up your educating the younger generation as they need all the help they can get if their parents are any example!!

Good for you for raising polite kiddos. It give me some little hope for the world...

Queen of the Mayhem said...

I am SO with you on this......children are so overindulged these days that parents are not showing them the line between kids and adults.

I encounter this often in my classroom. I am forced to hurt a child's feelings who has not been taught how to speak to adults because I simply will NOT tolerate them speaking to me as if I were a peer!

I am, by no means, a perfect parent...but you can rest assured my children KNOW that I am not here to be their friend and the difference between kids and adults!

(Of course.....Junior Mayhem does not count.....he knows, but may pretend as though he has amnesia!)


Ally said...

Good for you for providing some guidelines. Sounds like that little girl really hadn't been told the "rule" before. I don't know how that can be, but in this day and age I totally believe it. And Jay? What is UP with his mom and her whirlwind pick-up and no thank you? Wild!

Domestically Disabled Girl said...

argh! i know exactly where you are coming from. last weekend the bf let one of his boys have a friend overnight. first thing the kid did upon entering our house was swich on our television. WTF? we don't even let our own kids turn it on. then, he poceeded to dig in our fridge for a snack! WTF????? kids definitely do say dumb thing and not know it's wrong, and it is our job as parents to correct them whenever we can. i think it's perfectly okay to correct other kids, too. someone has to.

moosh in indy. said...

I have been made to cry by more nine year old girls than any other demographic in the world.
Way to stand up to the pipsqueaks of the world.

Rebecca said...

a nine year old girl talking about your weight?? That is FRIGHTENING. At nine the idea of "weight" should not have even entered her consciousness - you really have to wonder about that little girls mother.

Brillig said...

Oh. MYGosh. That's so messed up. I do worry about what the little girl is hearing at home--surely someone taught her all that stuff. And then Jay's mom? Leaves him for six hours after saying it would only be a couple? Doesn't thank you for the immense service? Well, yah. Not hard to imagine where he gets his rudeness from. Yikes!

akinvt said...

Great post! Other people's kids can be such a pain sometimes. Why don't the parents even ask how their kid was? It might be uncomfortable to listen to but it is their child and they need to know if there is a behavior problem.

New Diva on the Blog said...

A. I totally agree with the wtf to that little girls comments. How does one get to be 9 and not understand.

B. I have not a lot of patience for other people's children, yet somehow they seem to flock to me?

C. The one that really boggled my mind was when I was swimming at our gym's pool with my daughter, two little boys came to join us in our playing, they were 4 and 6. They played with us for a 1/2 hour before their mom came to look for them. The four year old was putting his head underwater. "I didn't know he could do that" said his mom. Now I say wtf, you have a 4 year old that doesn't even know how to put his head underwater and it takes you a half hour to come find him!

Cherann said...

Not that it's an excuse or anything...but sometimes some kids learn manners easier than other kids.

I also think that those kids were just being kids. I think it was rude but I still think that they're just kids...they don't have that inner monologue yet. I don't really think it's complete until

MommasWorld said...

Is Eva realated to Bunny? The Girl Named Bunny who I had to blog about for three full days because she pissed me off so much?

You have to nip it in the bud or they will turn out incredibly rude like 16 yr old Bunny.

Koodos to you WM