Mothers often hotly debate the ethics of reprimanding someone else’s child.
But I can now tell you from direct experience, if your kid is chasing others around and grabbing them by the head while you sit idly by, I’m going to tell him off. Especially when he’s twice their size. And yes, I reserve the right to reprimand you for your complete lack of parenting, too.
Yup, this is what happened today. There we were, happily playing in the playground, when some obese four year old (according to his grandfather; he looked about eight to me) started grabbing at Elspeth. I’m not too sure what his aim actually was, but she obviously didn’t like it, and ran away. The boy chased her. She ran to her daddy, who picked her up to comfort her, and the boy kept trying to grab at her legs even then.
I told him, firmly, to leave her alone. Then the cheeky bugger chased me, trying to defend himself. I ignored him and went back to my seat. I thought little more of it – an odd, isolated incident, right?
Until I saw him do the same to another child, only more roughly. This time he was ripping at a boy’s clothes, it looked like he was trying to lift him up by the neck of his shirt. That boy also ran away, and was chased all the way to his mother.
Then it was Elspeth again, and Aidan did his stern-voice on the bully. I couldn’t hear what he said, but I could hear his tone from across the playground.
It was then that I decided it was time to give his grandfather a boot up the bum. All the while, pops had been sitting watching this kid, saying and doing nothing. So I said, “That boy is harassing and upsetting the other children. You might want to have words with him.” My tone, I think (I hope), was firm and disapproving and filled with motherly authority. Pops response to me was weak and quavering: “He’s only four. He’s trying to make friends. You can’t make friends without speaking to each other!” Making friends? Speaking? I wouldn’t have minded if that was what he was doing! I made my scorn for that statement quite plain, and pops packed up his over-indulged grandson and left.
In hindsight, with emotion removed, it is true that I can’t really blame the boy. His supervision today, in the form of his grandfather, was woefully inadequate, and I can only assume the parenting he usually receives is of similar standard.
But he’d better learn some appropriate social skills pretty soon, or somebody’s going to punch him. With any luck, it will be Elspeth.