I know it takes a village to raise a child, but last Sunday I felt like a lone villager dealing with a whole heap of the village’s kids. Camille was invited to her first Chuck-E-Cheese birthday party, and oh boy it was a doozie. The place was packed, with a long line out the door of kids hoping for a chance to play skee ball and eat pizza. Camille thoroughly enjoyed herself, but I found the experience to be a bit frustrating.
Lee and I are very fortunate that, thus far, our daughter seems receptive to our instruction regarding social behavior. Of course we still have issues with sharing and all those similar social skills that don’t come easily to a three-year-old. But overall, I think she understands what is expected and generally makes an effort to adhere to the rules.
But Chuck-E-Cheese is apparently a study in chaos, where the rules don’t apply and it’s every man for himself. Camille would wait patiently to play a game only to have kids run up in front of her and take her turn. Another kid followed me around the restaurant wanting our tokens. The thing is, I don’t really blame the kids. But where were the parents? Either the parents never taught them the rules, or the parents aren’t paying enough attention to see that the rules are enforced.
So what was I to do? That was the hardest part. When kids broke in line in front of Camille, I wanted to physically remove them from the game. Is it my job, as a fellow villager, to step in and enforce the rules even when other parents don’t? Or is it my job to teach Camille to turn the proverbial cheek and move on?
We ended up doing a little of both. Sometimes I was able to convince a child to get in line with everyone else. Sometimes we just found another game to play.
I’m curious, if you care to share, what do you do when other kids are breaking the rules and the parents aren’t paying attention? How do you police the village, or do you just police your own kids?