I am Not your Babysitter

Friday, July 01, 2011

Dear Other parents at the Park/Baseball field/Pool/Beach/Walmart etc,

I've been watching you for awhile now, and have come to the conclusion that you are operating under a seriously mistaken assumption.

Which is:

Being in the same Vicinity of YOUR children = Watching and Attending to the behavior of YOUR children.

As evidenced from the behavior of your screaming/crying/cursing/running through other people's BBQ's children, you seem to believe that your right to "relax" supersedes the rest of humanity's right to relax/shop/eat/swim.

I know what it is to raise a child. I know what it is to teach a whole Roomful of them, and believe me when I say that I understand the adult need to tune out. However, doing this while your child(ren) run amok is simply not acceptable.

And don't give me the free range children bullshit. Your child was just pulled out of traffic/out of the deep end of the pool/off of the top tier of the store shelves by ME. You aren't encouraging your child's "independence" by letting them place themselves and others in harms way. What you Are encouraging is a selfish belief that Their desire to play/scream/swim/run/throw themselves in traffic is more important that the needs of a Community.

And while I am on "Community", let me address your other mistaken belief that because I am a Mother that I have an overwhelming desire to watch over Your children. Not just casually as in "everyone looking out for each other" but as in "You are sitting in your lounge chair Drinking a beer/reading/reading/texting/talking on the phone" and have no idea what your child is up to.

Said child may have just had the idea that running through a crowd with a flaming stick is a great idea. Or maybe you gave him/her some fireworks. While I applaud your own Darwinian instincts to see if they are strong enough to survive, I don't appreciate you dragging MY family into your natural selection experiment.

I am also pretty sure that no one else got the memo that if more than 2 other adults are present that your obligations as a parent can be set aside, leaving you free to pursue what ever other more enjoyable activities you may have had planned.

In short, I am Not your babysitter and I resent you treating me as such. In fact we ALL resent it - the other parents, the other kids and even YOUR kid. He/She just wants some attention from you, even if it is to say "Yes I'm watching" for the billionth time as they jump into the pool.

Yeah, I know you'd rather be having a beer and chatting with friends. I truly get it. But when we signed on as parents, that option gets curtailed for a time. Our job to raise children who are independent AND courteous, polite and respectful humans must take precedence. It sucks at times, I know. However, if you take the long view what is more important? That text? That phone call? Or having a kid that others can say is well behaved and considerate?

I know my answer.

Baleful Regards,

PS - Give a thought in advance to if your child is going to scream in terror through the movie/fireworks/museum. Can you take just a moment to consider whether YOUR need for entertainment is overpowering your knowledge that your kid is not going to be able to handle it, and drag everyone within earshot into your grim, Private hell? I didn't see fireworks for years because I knew that Emily would have a violent screaming fit and was that really fair for Anyone? Thanks.

2 Baleful Regards:

Anonymous said...

Amen sister.

Unknown said...

OMG yessss. I am/was a nanny and volleyball coach for kids- love kids!- and my boyfriend's dad seems to take this to mean that I am the official FREE "family gathering nanny" for his son whenever I am invited to join some family celebration. Sits there in his comfy couch with beer in hand talking with adults whilst I get toy cars rammed into my shins, have him beg me to go up and down stairs with him over and over and over and over again to show me something like a toilet in the upstairs bathroom or a chair I've seen a million times- kind of cute if I wasn't secretly pregnant and suffering from morning sickness and extreme fatigue at this time, and it happened maybe 15 times so no normal person wants to go upstairs during a mostly adult party where everyone BUT you is socializing because you're basically obliged to watch the kid since he won't leave you be and the parents outright encourage him to "go play with *my name here*" (if I say something like "no buddy I'm tired/don't feel good/ don't want to he begs and begs and begs and begs and begs and begs and begs but no parents step in with any firm "she said no" or ANYTHING). They will however tell him he can't have a snack before dinner, then not watch him and leave me to make sure he doesn't sneak one behind their backs, and he did. At this point in the evening, the pregnancy sickness was at its worst so I had basically resigned to "if he gets into something for God's sake I don't care anymore he is not my kid". He brings the food into his grandma's room to hide and eat it and his awful father, paying attention to his son for the first time the entire evening, finds it and proceeds to ask, to the whole room but making eye contact with ONLY me so it was pretty clear he was blaming me, how his son had gotten the food. The child's mother is just chatting with adults drinking wine. Never did they ask me to watch their child, the kid more or less gravitates to me naturally as I treat him kindly (even when I can't even see straight I'm so irritated) and the parents take that as a "oh good he's not our problem for a while" and let him run roughshod over whoever watches him, you know that awkward "I can't tell him no as firmly or walk away because I'm not his parent and could be construed as mean or rude, but I am incredibly overwhelmed and his parents sure aren't stepping in to tell him this is wrong" feeling? THAT times a thousand. He is a 6 year old little boy who acts very much like a 3 year old (behavior wise- not cognition wise) because when his parents do parent him, they baby and spoil the hell out of him but when they push THEIR SON onto people, he's a little immature terror who has NO BOUNDARIES. And I hate the "don't tell people how to parent" argument for these situations because they truly do take an inch of other's kindness to children and run with it for miles.

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