With hindsight I could have avoided being the epic parental fail that comes from having too much confidence after one successful outing.
With middler in asentia on Tuesday, visiting a play frame went really well. Being exceptionally cocky and suffering a mini brain impediment, I went back with a friend and our kids after after taking them for an unusually pleasant swim.
Still basking in the success of Tuesday, my brain conveniently forgot middler wasn’t there. Mindful of the meddlers who keep telling me that I need to give middler a little bit of freedom and saying things like “aww, you’re really big enough do “this” or “that” on your own, I accepted the inevitable disapproval of the smothering mother brigade who think he is just overprotected and needs to get some freedom from adults, and threw caution to the wind.
BIG, BIG mistake.
Congratulating ourselves on possibly finally reaching the hallowed stage of play frame parents in absentia, we sat outside the play room at our table. Freedom is one thing, but this 11 year old of mine still needed to be kept close. It seemed to be going well, so I gritted my teeth, let them get on with it and we ordered lunch for the kids.
During pudding, a member of staff came over with an older woman whose jacket matched her flushed cheeks, and the two boys she was with. Instantly eyeing up the kids at the table, I thought I knew who was in the firing line and was prepared to read the riot act and not allow mine back in.
She had the misfortune of going on the attack.
“Your kids, yada yada yada.”
The kids said she called them “gobby shites.” She denied that at first, but had to back down and admit it when eldest backed up the two youngest in the spotlight for that.
Pointing the finger at a group of kids and then rattling off to them in front of me isn’t going to get my support either.
“You told me my mum must be proud of me.” said friends son.
“That’s right.” said angry woman. ”She must be really proud of you, your behaviour is terrible.” It’s clear she thinks friends son is my son and I don’t bother saying he isn’t. It’s clear she also thinks our kids are badly brought up hooligans. Our wild air dried swimming pool hair, slap free faces and casual clothes do nothing to correct the impression that we are anything but minky tinks.
“Oh” says I,”you’re being sarcastic to them too then?”
She’s getting annoyed by this time, stuttering, shaking her head, voice cracking, pointing her fingers at the kids and arguing with them.
She pointed at friends fostered son with visible special needs and included him in it.
“He’s got special needs.” She looked at his face and realised how disabled he was and backed down.
She then included middler. I was bored of her by this point, so although I was quite sure middler was no innocent, I calmly tell her that he was disabled.
That left three possible culprits at the table.
Eldest held his hands up and said “don’t look at me, I didn’t get involved.”
Then she was left with 2 kids who had a falling out with her 2 kids. All 4 kids seem about the same size. It all really boiled down to boys having an argument.
I wasn’t prepared to rise to the bait or get into an argument as she came over spoiling for a fight and determined to prove to herself how badly raised our kids were. I had no intention of getting into an argument but I did say that if she had wanted to talk calmly about it, I would have been prepared to listen. She stormed off in a huff, still in high dudgeon and I would guess family at home will have been regaled by tales of horrific children with devil horns and forked tongues.
I’m always prepared to listen to someone (and act) if any of my kids have been OTT, but coming over ready to rumble isn’t going to get my sympathy.
On the way home, eldest decided to tell me the two boys had been making fun of middlers hand actions when he gets excited. Our two kids who got into a brawl with hers had been annoyed. When middler is happy or excited, his hands go up to his face, he clenches his fists and he makes involuntary noises that sometimes embarrass him. Apparently this woman had also been mimicking his hand actions when she was annoyed with him, instead of coming to get me.
I don’t know exactly what happened as I never saw any of it, so there is little I can really say.
If she’d come up calmly to talk to us, I could have dealt with it, removed kids and sorted things out. I am actually quite reasonable and prepared to sort out kid disputes. As it was, I couldn’t listen to someone so hyped up in anger that they just wanted to argue with a group of kids. The whole point of behaviour modification is not getting angry with angry kids. That gets nobody anywhere. Since middler didn’t seem to be directly involved, I let them back to play.
Another BIG, BIG mistake.
Forgetting we were reaching the stage of medicine wearing off, I kept my fingers crossed while I enjoyed a chat and a soft drink. Staff approached again. This time it was middler himself.
A younger girl had thrown something which had landed on middler and he then went after the girl, completely inappropriately. So much for giving him a bit of freedom.
It’s the first and very LAST time it will happen until he leaves my home.
AND, I am officially the shitty parent who let her kids run riot and am thoroughly disgusted with myself for even bothering to try it.
I tried to find the parents of the girl he went after to make him apologise, but I couldn’t find them.
I doubt we’ll be back to that play frame with middler, it’s just too much hassle. Even if we stayed inside the room, most of the play frame is out of sight so you can’t see what they are doing anyway.
What on earth were we thinking to let two disabled kids go into a play frame with their brothers ??