This is almost worth two separate posts, but I'll try to present my thoughts in a coherent, thematic manner.
This last weekend, I was reminded of something, and I learned something.
We were out at a multi-national fast food chain (to be left un-named...), with attached kid's playground (which are
really neat-o! tunnels and cockpits and such), and there was this one boy -- about a year older than The Girl -- who was being really bossy and not letting other kids down the slide. I was the only adult that was actually directly supervising my child -- despite the sign asking parents to supervise their kids -- which meant that I was the only adult actually out in the play area (all the other parents were inside, presumably chatting with their friends).
So, the boy was being bossy and not letting people through -- or rather, trying
to not let the other kids through, but the kids larger than him just pushed on past. But with the kids smaller than himself -- including my daughter -- he was succeeding in gumming up the works. So, in my Grown-Up Voice, I said "Hey! You need to let the other kids use the slide, too, buddy!" (Or some similar phrasing.) He scowled -- but he **did** let the other kids through.
He had already been a bit snotty and pushy, even prior to this slide-blocking incident, so I ducked inside and asked The Lady if she knew which parents in there had the boy.
The Lady told me that the boy seemed to be with his dad -- who was initially sitting at one fo the tables doing paperwork (with his back to the play area!) -- and then later went off to the bathroom (leaving the boy in the play area) -- and was currently somewhere in line.
At about this point, the boy came inside, and stood on the bench of the booth where his dad was apparently sitting. He sat there for a fair while, looking... well, not sad
-- but certainly not "happy".
I walked over, knelt down next to the table (strategically so: body language; placing myself physically lower than his standing-on-the-bench [on the other side of the table] location, so that I would be in a less dominant position), and talked to him in my Mellow Dad Voice (which is distinct from my commanding Grown-Up Voice). I acknowledged that sometimes it's nice to have the slide all to ourselves -- but that sometimes, when other people are around, it's good to share, too. His face softened up, and he said "Yeah" a few times, softly.
He seemed like a basically decent kid -- and I was a little angry at the dad, who would take this kid out (weekend dad? why even bother
, if you're going to just ignore the kid and do paperwork?) and then not spend any time with him? Plus, in this day and age, monitoring him so inadequately -- that's **totally** how little kids get kidnapped...
Actually, not "a little angry" at the dad -- more of a smolder...
Which brings me back to the point of this post.
Something remembered: every few months, I run across a kid and his/her parents, where the parent is so neglectful, incompetent, or just crummy, that I'm tempted to walk up and just say, "Look, you clearly don't want this kid -- why don't you give him/her to me? I'll actually pay attention to him/her, hey?"
Something learned: I'm thirty-nine years old, and I keep gaining new insights that I feel like I should've figured out before. In this instance, I was tempted to tell the kid off, and reprimand him. But, really, what would that have accomplished? As I say, the kid was basically a good kid. If the dad was actually paying attention to him -- if the kid wasn't basically a sad little boy that was having to entertain himself -- then I suspect that he wouldn't have been trying to boss the other kids around.
Responding to misbehavior by being all strict and commanding, versus trying to find out what's actually going on under the surface. Different styles for different folks -- but I've realized that finding out what's going on is more suited to my over-all style.
That's it. End of post.