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Prime Directive

Sometimes being the only parent around puts you in a questionable position. If you notice kids misbehaving, when is it your job to intervene?

My husband and I were the only parents at the park sandbox this weekend when four little girls got into a fight. Three little girls were playing with an empty water bottle when a fourth walked up and started yelling that she wanted her water bottle back. The three little girls insisted that she should let them play with the water bottle because the fourth girl wasn’t playing with it when they found it. The fourth girl kept yelling that it was her empty water bottle and her property and she wanted it back, so they should give it back to her. Everyone was very upset and it seemed like things MIGHT get physical.

The fourth little girl was a mean bully in the way she talked to the other girls, but I agreed with her that if she did indeed own the water bottle, it should be returned to her when she wanted it back regardless of who was playing with it. Even though the water bottle was technically trash or recycling, in this case it was being used as a toy. If you find a toy at the park and it isn’t yours, you need to give it back to its owner when the owner comes back, no matter how ridiculous it may seem.

I never stepped up and neither did my husband. During the fight, I asked my husband if we should do something. He said we should let it go unless the fight became physical. It never did. The bully somehow got “her” (not sure if it WAS really hers) water bottle back. One of the little girls went off to cry. Then the bully felt bad and offered her some of her Oreos. It was weird. And kind of creepy.

This same bully had come up to my husband before the sandbox incident and asked if they could be friends. Then she used his cell phone to call her mom. She was about 8 years old and asking my 41-year-old husband to be friends. Really? If her mother had been around, I may have told her this because can you imagine the trouble she could get into asking strange men to be friends? Not good.

But her mother wasn’t there. This girl was just at the park bullying other kids and then trying to win back their friendship with Oreos.

The whole thing was creepy.

Anyway, afterward my husband and I had a debate about when you should intervene when other people’s children misbehave. I thought we should have stepped in to break up the fight, but I felt awkward about the whole thing. I would have given the bully back her water bottle and told the other (way nicer even though they were wrong) girls to go play with something else and STAY AWAY from the crazy kid.

My husband thinks that with other kids we should use the “Prime Directive” from “Star Trek”– we do not intervene with “aliens”. They are in their own worlds and we are in ours. We leave them to their own devices unless they might be physically harmed OR they bother OUR kids. In “Star Trek”, even the threat of physical harm theoretically wouldn’t result in an intervention, but like Captain Picard sometimes did, we’d feel the need to stop someone from getting hurt. Plus, you know, this is real life and we aren’t bound to Star Fleet’s rules and regulations.

I don’t know. I think kids should work things out, but I also think the grown up in the room should intervene to stop bullying. Then again, what authority figures are we at the park?

What would you do in that situation? Is it “Prime Directive”-worthy? When do you intervene when you see kids that aren’t yours yelling at other kids?

It’s a fine line. Sometimes I wish I was still a kid so I WASN’T the responsible party in a public place full of strangers.

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Looks Just Like…

Earlier this week we were at the park when Lily came up to me frantic about some kid climbing up the slide.

Lily: Mommy, LOOK!

Me: What?

Lily: LOOK, Mommy, LOOK!!!! That boy!

Me: Which boy?

Lily: That boy climbing up the slide!!!!

Me: Oh, I know I tell you not to climb up the slide, but there’s no one at the top and if his mommy says it’s ok, it’s ok. I rather you didn’t do it though. It’s dangerous.

Lily: LOOK!

Me: What?!

Lily: That boy on the slide!

Me: I see him. It’s really ok. Don’t worry about him.

Lily: No, Mommy! Look!

Me: I really don’t know what you want me to see.

Lily: That boy looks just like Paul!

Me: Oh. Paul from school?

Lily: YES!

Me: Well is it Paul? I don’t know what Paul looks like.

Lily: That boy looks just like Paul!

Me: Is it Paul, or does it just LOOK like Paul?

Lily: It IS Paul.

Me: Well… go say hi to him then!

She played with Paul the rest of the time we were at the park.

Am I a horrible human being that I can’t identify hardly any of the boys in Lily’s preschool class? There are 12 of them and I swear most of them are identical to me! The ones I can identify either also went to preschool with her last year or have some unique physical characteristic that distinguishes them to me. With 12 boys in Lily’s class this year, all I see is a blur of short haired kids who move too quickly for me to memorize their faces!

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Friday Funnies: I like kids!

In our experience, most playgrounds, McDonald’s Playlands and Chuck E. Cheeses come equipped with a 7-10 year old girl who likes to play mommy to whatever toddler happens to be roaming around. This can be REALLY helpful in those kid gerbil tunnels where a toddler sometimes needs a boost climbing or help down the slide. A couple years ago when we were traveling, blonde 7-10 year old girls would show up at every Playland across the Midwest to help Lily up the gerbil tower and into the tunnels. My husband and I used to joke that it was the same girl at every McDonald’s. Perhaps she was a robot they activated when they saw our kid was having trouble so my husband and I wouldn’t have to climb up the tunnel? Lately, the girl has been missing and things like this have been happening.

That's about as comfortable and convenient as it looks.

I guess the old 8-year-old mommy got too old to play in kid gerbil mazes?

We were amused yesterday when the latest model of 8-year-old mommy showed up at our park and decided to take on Rose as a special project.

Does this mean the next time we go to Chuck E Cheese, this girl will be there to lift Rose through the mazes?

The girl cracked us up when she turned to us and said

As an 8-year-old, she was clearly no longer a “kid”, right?

Rose was happy to play along with this girl’s mommy or baby-sitter fantasy. Rose, who sometimes doubles for Buckwheat from “Little Rascals”, kept saying “O-tay” to whatever the 8-year-old wanted to do. She thought this 8-year-old was the greatest.

But for whatever reason, the 8-year-old REALLY freaked Lily out.

Lily burst into tears going on and on about how she “needed” Rose and wanted her “back”. Keep in mind, Lily hadn’t really been playing with Rose before this all went down. The famed Ollie (Lily’s male name twin) was at the park, so she was very busy chasing him around and trying to be his BFF. She was doing great until she realized some other girl was pretending to be her baby sister’s big sister. In her little world, this was absolutely unacceptable.

I kept telling Lily that Rose would be ok, but Lily just kept getting more and more hysterical about it. “I NEED HER! ROSE! ROSE! COME BACK!” *Wail* I explained Rose would come back when she was done playing, but Lily wasn’t buying it.

Even though Rose really wanted to play with the “big girl”, I had to go retrieve her before Lily got too upset.

Later when we talked about why Lily got so upset, she told me that SHE was Rose’s big sister, not the other girl. The other girl crossed the line by acting like Rose’s big sister and it made Lily upset and possessive.

No one can act like Rose’s big sister but Lily! Many things can be shared, but not Rose!

Ok then.

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