I had an interesting play date the other day. Not with the sweet friend I met there (I actually loved chatting with her and decided as I left we definitely needed to get together more), but a particular little boy and his mom at the place we went to.
The play place is a warehouse type building with two "rooms"- connected and you can sit in one and see into the other. As many times as we have been to this place (40? 50?), we have never encountered any issues or "problems." The occasional taking of a toy? Yes. The chasing or pushing? Of course. But nothing major. It's always filled with moms who chat and visit with each other but are also very good about watching their kids and making sure nothing is going on. Which is why we love going there!
There was this little boy there, right around 2 I'd guess. I didn't think twice about him (in fact, I didn't notice him) until I heard CK crying from the other room. Just as I stood up to check it out, she came running in crying and holding her head. I asked her if she bonked it and she said no, that a baby pulled her hair. I sort of dismissed it because a)babies DO pull hair, and b)she's always in babies' faces and just might have deserved it.
But she was pretty upset and wanted me to come with her. So I walked in there just in time to see said boy throwing the foam mulch at Jay. Jay kind of fussed at him and said stop. Then Charley said that he was "the baby" that pulled her hair. I was surprised because he was definitely old enough to know that it was wrong (to do both things) and I feel like hair pulling is SUCH a baby-thing to do. I just took her hand and told Jay to follow me and that we should play somewhere else. (What do you guys do at this point? My first reaction is to let it go and move away from the offender).
I should have figured it out by the mom's reaction, but she came right over and asked if her son had done something. Realizing they are kids and all make mistakes, I just said, "Oh there was some hair pulling but we are ok. We will just go play in here," and smiled and walked into the other room (I can promise you I was so nice about it). She answered with a "Well let me know if that really is what happened!" in a very nice tone (but I was confused because I DID just let you know and it IS what happened).
Anyway, a while later said boy was in the playhouse and another girl ran out screaming crying that he had pulled her hair. Mom made him "apologize" and that was it.
Then he pulled another kid's hair right next to us and the poor baby was screaming. Mom ran over and made him "apologize" again and the snotty nosed kid tried to kiss the one he offended which just weirded and grossed me out.
A little while after that, Charley Kate came running over to me again screaming crying that he pulled her hair again. I went in there and I guess the mom finally saw it because she met us halfway and made him apologize. Like the boy cared. This time I said, "Honey you can't pull her hair. It really hurts her and it's not nice." I was kind but incredibly irritated that this mom continuously did NOTHING to stop the behavior. Sensing my irritation, she finally put him in timeout.
It happened at least once more, and he also flipped the tray Charley was carrying out of her hands on purpose and threw a cup at another kid.
Look, I know toddlers are tough, but you gotta know when to cash it in. If this was a fluke and abnormal behavior for him, then you have to know as a mom that it's time to go because something clearly isn't right. I know kids misbehave for all sorts of reasons, but not doing anything about it is just infuriating. Plus, methinks this wasn't a one-time deal. He seemed like a repeat offender.
I'm sure the mom feels like she has her hands full (she had two other kids there- both younger than him!). I'm sure she'd like to get out and let her kids play and socialize herself. But if you have a child who is acting naughty then you have to stop the behavior! If that means leaving when they mess up, then leave! If that means staying home until they are taught how to properly socialize, then stay home.
Again, I get it that two year olds misbehave. Mine does all the time! I know kids take things that aren't theirs and sometimes they push and sometimes they are bossy and often they throw tantrums. I get it. But physically hurting five different kids in an hour and a half is too much.
I really wanted to cut this mom a break. And I did. But after it happened to so many other kids, everyone was just fed up. For the greater good, count your losses and head home. And try again the next day if you want.
Anyway, any thoughts on how to handle something like that? I was racking my brain thinking about what I was going to do if he did it a third time to Charley.
I am not one to correct other people's kids (even if I want to!). I know they all mess up and I would hope that if one of mine did something wrong, another mother would cut me some slack. But my kids just aren't physically (or verbally) offensive. They are defensive and will retaliate, but I have never seen either of them just walk up and physically harm another kid for no reason. And if they did, I'd be all. over. them.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this one...