Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Parenting Advice Required

All right, I'm new to the whole toddler park scene. Poohbutt didn't start tottling until well into the winter, and I was totally unaware of one of our local mall's play area. However, last month, when the Unions were in from St. Paul (oops, sorry, Minneapolis) and Pooh actually played with (as opposed to around) little Norma Rae, I knew she was ready. Besides, my girl's going into day care soon and I wanted to acclimate her to other kids (as well as gear myself up for cutting one of the many of Daddy's apron strings). So, we've been hitting the toddler play areas ever since.

Just yesterday I was marveling at how the older kids just really don't seem to notice the li'lunz playing around them. They can be going at break-neck speeds and magically veer around them. The toddlers must be on their radar, but the big kids just act like they don't exist. However, today was different.

I took Pooh to said mall's play area. It was a crap day out, but I still wanted the girl to get her play on. She was tooling around just fine with the play cars and plastic, hollowed-out log with the other tykes until Jeffrey, the Towheaded Terror, came along.

This little Osama bin Lad, roughly aged five, came in with his mother, grandmother, and two siblings and immediately reeked havoc and mayhem on what was originally a pleasant afternoon diversion.

First, he clamped down on Pooh's little shoulders. She tried to wriggle free, but he wouldn't let go. I wanted to jump in, but I figured she's going to have to get used to this kind of thing in daycare. So, I let it go. Then he shoved her down to the ground. I retracted my Poppa Bear claws and let it go ... seething a little.

My daughter stoically got back up and smartly moved away towards me. She veered away and decided to play by herself. That was when Jeffrey chased after her, clasped her shoulders again and shoved her down. Then the little [deleted] sat down on my daughter. I thought I was going to kill Jeffrey. Instead, I calmly snapped, "Hey, kid!"

His grandmother waddled over, screaming, "Jeffrey!"

She snatched the boy up and immediately apologized to me.

"I'm sorry," she apologized. "He doesn't mean anything by it."

I gave her a slow nod, thinking (in my very un-PC fashion), "Somebody needs to punch Jeffrey in his fucking mouth."

I looked over at the only other father in the play area, who gave me a questioning look, wondering if Jeffrey and/or I were going to be a problem.

The next 10 minutes made it painfully clear who it was going to be ... Jeffrey.

"Jeffrey!" "Jeffrey!" "Jeffrey!" the grandmother continuously screamed as Jeffrey pushed down other kids, tugged at them, tried to pull his older sister's shirt off, tried to pull another kid's pants down. All the other parents looked at the Hun rampaging through our plastic village, wondering when the hell his mother or grandmother was going to A) take him out of the play area and/or B) light his little ass up.

I was hoping Jamal, who was also five, was going to save the day and punch Jeffrey's lights out (I know, I know, I'm bad ... I need help). However, Jamal's mother had the right idea and left with her boy. Other parents were starting to get the hint.

Finally, Jeffrey frantically ran past Pooh and planted a shoulder into her, knocking her down.


I'd had it. I inhaled deeply, staring hot fire at the grandmother ...

"Really, I'm so sorry."

and scooped up Poohbutt and left.

We went upstairs to exit the mall. I looked down at the play area, and all the other parents were gone. Only Jeffrey and his family remained, playing gleefully alone, I guess, until more kids came along to terrorize.

Now, I've been wondering ... Should I have said something? I mean, I know parents can get all crazy if you even suggest that their children are acting badly, that they may actually be bad parents, and may actually rear up and punch you in your fucking mouth. But damn, Jeffrey ran 12 kids and their parents out of the play area. I didn't want to get all ethnic on the fam, but, booooyyyyy, I really could have.

So, is there some kind of etiquette or protocol for situations like this? Or do you just do what I did and cower your kids away from the terror?

Just curious.


Sue Jacquette said...

This totally reminds me of Bill Cosby Himself, that part when he's on the plane with the four-year-old Jefferey...

Anyway, it's an age-old question and I think you did the right thing, just take little Pooh-butt out of the situation. If you won't see them regularly, there's no need to cause trouble. If he were a classmate or playmate that she saw all the time, I'd say something then. Ugh! I wish I could take some kids for a week and fix them and return them sometimes.

Alisande said...

Wow... I think at the grandmother's first apology, I would have said something like: You didn't bully my daughter; Jeff's the one who should be apologizing to me and especially to my daughter.

iasa said...

When I find myself in those situations, I usually say something to the child. If the problem persists I'll talk to the parent and if that doesn't work we will leave the situation. I don't know that it does any good, but it makes me feel better.

When my pickni were about 3 and 2 we were at the local park. The 3 year old was being picked on by a group of 8-9 year old boys. My 2 year old decided he had enough. He sized them up, let out a bit of a growl and ran across the playground hurling himself into one of the boys. They both went flying on their butts. I have to admit I was proud of him.

nunya said...

Are you kidding me? His name was really Jeffrey? .

this tape saved my relationship with my kid

boukman70 said...

You know, I wish I would've remembered that Cosby "Jeffrey" skit. One, the whole episode would've probably been a lot funnier; two, I would've changed his name. But thanks for the link, Nunya. It was fun watching it again.

I have taken the rest of your advice to heart. I realize that the only thing to do next time something like this happens is to take off my belt and whip the hell out of the parents!