I took my daughter to Chick-fil-A for lunch one day and let her play in the jungle gym area. She was having a grand ‘ol time with another little girl, who was four or five until I gave my daughter notice that she had five minutes left to play. It was creeping dangerously close to the end of her nap time threshold, so I knew I had to get out of there stat.
Cue tears and threenager behavior.
She immediately burst into tears and started screaming “no”. The little girl she was playing with then told her, “you have a mean mom!” and whispered to her to run away up into the car to hide from me.
I remained calm, despite an over-tired screaming toddler, and reminded her it was time to go.
The end of the story goes something like this: crying and screaming continues while she’s up at the very top of the jungle gym. Other kids are trying to play but eventually leave because well, it’s uncomfortable. I end up having to climb up (so so gross) to get her out.
If you were in my shoes, would you have said anything to the little girl that called me a “mean mom”?
I did. I told her that I’m not a mean mom (I’m really not!) and that she (my daughter) needs to listen to her mother. I also said that I don’t appreciate that she told her to hide from me. I said it nicely, not in a “you’re in trouble” tone because I didn’t want that teachable moment to slip by.
Reflecting on it later, I wouldn’t have changed how I handled it any differently. I expect and hope that other adult would do the same thing for my daughter if warranted.
Fast-forward to another incident at the park, where my daughter was playing with a friend and another girl that was nearby. They were sitting, talking, and a little boy comes over. I’m sitting at a distance but I assume he wants to play or talk or do whatever they are doing. I watch for a few minutes and he doesn’t move, so I walk over to see what’s up.
“Will you please leave now?”
That’s what I heard one of the girls say to this boy. I assume it wasn’t the first time as the boy didn’t leave. I immediately stepped in and told her that that is not a kind thing to say. She shrugged it off and pretended like she didn’t hear me. But I know she did, so I repeated myself again and asked her to confirm that she heard me. I left it at that.
If you were in my shoes, would you have said anything to the little girl?
I did. Because I did not want my daughter to think that it was okay to treat other people like that. I felt that I did my duty as an adult and continued to talk to my daughter about how we treat others: with kindness and respect.
These two scenarios happened without other parents present. But my husband has corrected behaviors of another child with her parent present — and the parent, who happens to be a close friend of ours — thanked him for doing so because she needs to know that she was wrong, even coming from another adult.
I can’t control how other kids behave, but I can do my part to teach kids what’s right and wrong when the opportunities arise. It takes a village, right?