Last week I had to step out of the arena during one of my daughter’s hockey games to take a phone call. As I was talking on the phone, I noticed a kid had plugged the indoor water fountain and was allowing water to spill over onto the floor. He was also spraying the water from the spout causing a tsunami like effect which also wet the floor.
There were about a dozen adults sitting in the lobby watching this go down. Clearly, none of them were his parents. As I was trying to wrap up my call, I looked at each one expecting someone to intervene and put a stop to Destructo-Boy. They all just looked blankly at me and did nothing. Water was everywhere and they just sat there like nothing was happening.
I cut my call short and immediately said, “Hey kid, cut that out – you’re making a mess.” Then he looked at me and said: “I don’t have to. You’re not my mom.”
Well, I must have shot him the look that only my kids can tell you about. Within a few minutes I had him on the floor with paper towels wiping up the water mess he made. I praised him for doing such a good job then went back to watch my daughter’s hockey game.
Clearly there are a few issues with this situation:
Where were the parents? While this is an issue that bothers many people, I actually don’t mind seeing kids wandering around unsupervised. But, if parents are going to let this happen, they had better be prepared to allow other parents to step in and address their child’s behavior with their own discipline technique or arrange for child care if they can’t supervise.
Why didn’t any of the other parents shut it down? What were they afraid of? Were they afraid that the kid would say, “You’re not my mom” and they would have no response? Or were they afraid he’d go running to his parents and get an earful for “parenting” their child?
I have to say, I was in complete shock when he spoke those words to me. Of all the children in my life – friends, neighbours, cousins, nieces, nephews – no one has ever said that to me. When I told my kids the story about my little water loving friend, their eyes all bugged out in disbelief that a kid would say that to an adult. They all wished they had been there to see my face.
How do you feel about dealing with other people’s kids? Am I the only one who expects you all to give my kids a swift kick in the butt if they are misbehaving? Heck, I count on you for parenting help. Would you have stepped in or left it to the parents to deal with?