I Blame the Parents

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?

6 Comments on “I Blame the Parents

  1. Ugh. I feel the same way. It’s so frustrating and confusing. I will often kindly correct the child but that gets exhausting (and sometimes scary when they stare you down).
    When I let the rule-breakers get away with their behavior, I feel like a whimp and that what I taught my kids was for nothing. Nia/Nate will look at me like, “Momma, if I did that I would be in trouble.” Sometimes, I use it as a lesson. I will raise my voice so the culprit can hear and tell my kids, “What that child did (state the crime) was not nice or proper and you should never do that.” I will ask them how it made them feel and then let them know that’s why we don’t act that way – we don’t want to make others feel like that.
    I’m not sure if it’s the best way but I feel if that child heard me they kind of were taught something? I don’t know.

  2. I have trouble with this too. We live in a small area and people talk. I don’t want to walk into my classroom in a few years with a reputation of a helcopter mom or mean lady but so many of these kids are rude and rough. At Monkey Joes last week, I pointed my finger through the netting and told a little boy to, “Watch the little ones!” (meaning my son who was within seconds of being stomped on) and my tone was clear. Then I proceeded to the other side of the inflatable so he would know I was watching. I know one day I will do this and end up with a mom in my face! Why do some parents just drop their kids off and not care what happens?
    So frustrating.
    At one point, he was cuddled into the top of the slide in terror because he was waiting his turn to go down the slide and the other kids kept jumping in front of him. He was in tears. Brian had to climb in and rescue him. It makes me want to put the big kids in time out.

  3. We’re still in the one-and-a-half age range, but at certain meet-ups, we are exposed to many ages of kids. At yesterday’s La Leche meeting (go ahead, chortle, I’m one of THOSE), I witnessed someone else’s little girl (3ish) tell someone else’s little boy (2ish) that he was a “dummy.” He turned away, crestfallen. Both the moms were inside at the meeting (this was in the fenced in playground). I grabbed the little boy by the shoulders and said, “Don’t you listen to her.” hahahahaha. She really was a mean little girl.

  4. Well, I feel better that I’m not the only one who struggles with how to respond to these kids. If only all parents could be perfect like us, wouldn’t the world be a better place? Ha ha! That was totally a joke by the way. And no chortling here Betsy – you go girl!

  5. We were at a place called Jump It Up, Jr (sounds a lot like Monkey Joe’s). A little girl was pretty much bullying Elliot and her mother wasn’t paying attention. She was much bigger and E was crying. So I crawled up the slide and told the girl she wasn’t being nice and told her to slide down “right now!”. Then I took Elliot away from her. She was a mean little kid! Her mom has no clue.

  6. I have issues with this as well. I am a police the village kind of mom and sometimes question myself around that. I find that so many kids are vying for their parents attention (their parents being off socializing) that they look to me for attention, whether it be positive or negative. I have no problem telling children to take their turn or stop bullying others and get annoyed when I can’t find the parent stepping in.
    There are times when I let Cooper work it out with the child and I watch to see how it goes. Maybe as he gets older I will back off more too, as of right now though I keep a watchful eye on how he treats others and how he is being treated.

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