I mean I’ve always had the no stance, I want nothing but secret chocolates and snuggles with my friends kids… Not only because (and I can admit) them liking me is important for my self-worth, but also because I know how important a relationship with me is to them.
You see Maggie Dent (the only parenting expert I ever turn to in times of need), has a beautiful theory called the Lighthouse Theory. Sometimes kids, teenagers in particular can’t be reached by their own parents. So in a crisis they tend to turn to a lighthouse, aunty or a friend of their parents that is easy to talk to.
I get that because I was the same, I would cringe at the idea of talking to my mum about some boyfriend or vagina problem. But I’d openly chat for hours to my aunties or friends parents. It’s just easier sometimes. So I want to be there for my friends’ kids in that way and I want my friends to be there for my kids, the older I get the more pride I swallow and the more I realise that it’s not just me who is raising these kids, it really does take a village.
So when it’s my friend’s kids turn to be a dick I step aside, sometimes even high five the little shit as my mates role their eyes at me, I can’t help it. I have a soft spot for the naughty ones.
However a few months ago I was at the park with Arlo and his mate and a little girl who couldn’t have been older than 4 was demolishing the playground. She was kicking kids off the slides and charging around the platforms like some sort of little lord.
It was actually hilarious- I have never seen such a tiny girl cause so much havoc.
Arlo is not a dobber, he is a law of the jungle kind of kid. He never hurts anyone, it’s kind of hard to hurt him (unless you stub his toe) so it’s really unusual for him to interrupt me to dob on a little girl, he came over to me to tell me that a little girl had kicked him. I did my usual energy-conserving mum-of-4 parenting and told him to just play somewhere else. 5 minutes later he came over to me in tears and told me that she had thrown sand in his eyes and as he said it his mate came running over crying his eyes out too, she had slapped him. Great… I obviously have to get off my arse and intervene.
I looked around for her mum, it was a very busy day, one of those sunny winter days where everyone capitalises and picnics the fuck out of every park. The kid’s mum was probably hiding somewhere with a bottle of Gin enjoying the peace.
I had no choice.
Little Miss Playground Queen was now reigning everything. Stomping, throwing things, I think she was even singing Christina Aguilera’s Fighter as she ruled the see-saw, loving herself sick.
I walked towards her, she had a short curly bob, it was perfect. She glared at me as moved in closer. I know what she was thinking, “hmmmm, who’s this bitch getting up in my grill… killing my vibe.. who dares..”
“Hi sweetie, do you think that you could chill on the kicking and sand throwing? My kids are all a bit sad coz they really wanted to play up here with you.”
Her eyes narrowed, She responded with a poised statement. “Fine… the boys can play there,” and she pointed to a tiny patch of mud.
The boys were happy with that and I felt like the negotiator of the year.
And that was kind of that. I was starting to think that stepping in is the new me.
However a couple of weeks ago my Billie-Violet was having a really hard time, she was struggling with some of her friends. She had been in trouble with Bill for not cleaning her room and answering back and I had walked in on her in her bedroom crying to a photo of my dad, her passed away poppy. It wasn’t the “look at me, I’m crying to get out of trouble” kind of cry either, and trust me I have seen that. But she was struggling.
So I grabbed her bike and took her to the park. She merrily rode around getting a bit of colour in her soul again when a little toddler walked in front of her bike- and she knocked him over.
She was mortified, the toddler was fine he ran off giggling, thankfully toddlers are made of rubber but his dad stormed over to her and yelled, “You’re a stupid little girl, you shouldn’t be riding around here!”
Maybe it was a little close to the play equipment, but fuck me he was such a bully.
My blood boiled. Fierce warrior mum kicked in. I gave him a mouthful about yelling at kids you don’t know. Billie-Violet buried her head into me crying, yet grateful that I had her back.
Still, no winners.
I realised that day my main gripe with disciplining kids who aren’t yours is that you don’t know their story. You don’t know if this is something they do all the time or something that was a pure accident. You don’t know if that little girl has spent the day crying for her dead Poppy, or if she purposely hits toddlers in parks on her bike every weekend.
You just don’t know.
Obviously, there isn’t a cut and dry answer. When someone is hurting your kid it doesn’t matter who, a child or a grown man, the first thing you need to do is stop that shit..
Now it isn’t a do or don’t type of conversation, everyone handles situations differently. But I do know that the words that come out of adults who aren’t your parents cut children a lot deeper than those of your own folks. So for me?
Going to extreme measures to sort it out with the kids parents before even thinking of approaching the kid is the only way.
I’ll stick to being a lighthouse for other children, someone that hopefully one day they can approach if they ever need anything and I’ll leave the hard arse shit to the mums and dads.
Love Con xxx