Yes. That’s me. Or it was, today.

I’m a firm believer in Ameli’s playtime. I’m a firm believer that she needs to be around other children. I’m a firm believer that she needs to learn to share. I’m a firm believer that she can’t have the best toys to herself at all times. I’m a firm freakin’ believer that she should stand her ground when whiny snot-nosed crying little boys try and take her toys off her.

Or, apparently, so I found out today.

See, we went to a new playgroup. One we’d not been to before.  I gave our names at the register and the lady told us to have a seat, and that, although the group looked clique-y, they really weren’t and we’d soon all be chatting. There was another new mother who walked in just after we did, and mercifully she sat down next to us. I say mercifully, because if she didn’t, I’d not have said a word to anyone all morning, I’m sure.

Ameli immediately ran off and got involved with the sea of new toys. Wonderful. I sat chatting to the lovely, very young, homebirthing, newbie mama and we hit it off really well.  I kept a close eye on Ameli, as she’s going through a ‘pushing’ phase, on the one hand, and on the other, if she has touched a toy in recent history, she thinks it’s hers. On a number of occasions I got up to encourage her to share, not to push and on one occasion to help her help up a little girl that she had pushed over. Why’m I telling you this? To illustrate that I was observing and very aware of what was going on (and don’t believe the four elderly ‘helpers’ are capable of providing 100% attention or care to around 20 toddlers.)

At one point, Ameli kept pushing a little girl away so that she couldn’t go to the slide. I intervened, gently, which made this little girl’s mother run up and without saying a word to Ameli or I, put her daughter on the slide. Fine. I took Ameli away anyway.

My new friend had two of her three children there and this one particular Little Boy In Blue starts pushes her 15 month old away to get a toy from him. Queue crying, but she just removes her son. Little Boy In Blue cried about every 15 minutes anyway.

But, back to Ameli, who is, running around on the ‘stage’ where they’ve set up play tents and a play kitchen. Ameli is walking up and down loading smaller toys onto a toy box lifting thing, which she loads items onto and deposits them again elsewhere. Next moment, Little Boy In Blue comes up, pushes her and takes the handles. Ameli decides no way, and holding on with one hand, starts unclasping his hands from it. Little Boy In Blue stands there screeching and his mother, obviously used to it (he has been crying most of the morning) doesn’t notice at first.

I decide to watch, and observe, and see what happens. Surely, sometimes children must sort out their own issues without mothers jumping in all the time, right?  Well. Everyone sits watching them, with mothers from the ‘not clique-y’ group throwing ‘why’s she not doing anything‘ glances at me, one even pointing in my direction and I can see she’s saying ‘that’s her’.

Which made my blood boil. My child was there first and these women were there judging me for not ‘disciplining’ my child when obviously this boy was wanting the toy, when not one of them had seen that he was trying to take it – as he had done with numerous other children over the morning.

Ameli kept looking at me to see if I was going to give her ‘the eye’, but I didn’t. I just watched her to see she didn’t start pushing or hurting, and watching these mothers to see what they were going to do about it.

Eventually the boy let go, and Ameli, unfussed, continued moving things onto and off of the box lift toy. The mother eventually stood up and fetched her still screaming son, while her posse sat glaring daggers at me.

So, I’m sure there are at least six million ways I could have handled that better. Maybe I could have responded peacefully and gently to Little Boy In Blue? Perhaps I could have explained to Ameli that sometimes we just have to let go, even when it’s not fair? (I didn’t, because I’m ALWAYS erring on the side of other kids, because she’s so big for her age, but is that fair to her?) Perhaps I should have broached it with the mother?

What would you have done?


(I’ve written in the past about Gentle Discipline, especially in the Christian context because one thing I can’t bare is punishment for something I didn’t do. I guess that’s why I wasn’t prepared to make Ameli give him the toy in this case. How could I, if I would ‘correct’ her for taking one in a similar manner?)


Playgroup Monster Mama

  1. A few women pointing at you doesn’t give me the ((ohh im judging you)) feeling. Maybe the moms were think ( wow I hope that mom let’s her little girl give it to him!!!! )But the other mom was there too so they ,couldn’t show how much they liked it! It seems like you are harder on yourself then anyone else

  2. Good for you (and Kyra!) There are times when we just have to let our children work things out for themselves. No one was being hurt, so you just let her stand her ground. Little Boy learned that you can’t always get away with screaming to get what you want, too!

  3. This is always a tricky situation. But, we do what is best for our beliefs in parenting as will other parents. Perhaps the passive aggressive parents need just as much compassion (for themselves and others) as the children do-perhaps even a bit more at times.

  4. I would have not only reacted the same way, I would have probably started a row with the mothers who were glaring at me. *shifty* Fire temperament anyone?

    Last week in a soft play area, my friend’s little boy was cornered by a slightly older toddler girl who slapped him several times as if daring him to do something back. As the two of us got there, he reacted and pulled her hair. She ran crying to a parent. Guess what? The entire next HOUR, these two parents opposite us were talking about “that horrible little boy”! After a little while of this passive aggressive stuff from them, I went and complained to management, and the family left after the manager spoke to them. Good grief!

    I don’t believe my children are perfect. They all have their sticking points, and developmental challenges. And my friends’ son IS a hair puller! But if another child hurts them, I do wade in if the parent appears not to have noticed – with a little humility, because sometimes it’s my child and sometimes I don’t notice – but nevertheless. Parents who don’t see their own child’s behaviour but rush in the moment they start to cry Drive Me Crazy. And it is 100% the parents’ fault not the child!

    1. @Sarah, You know, Sarah. I agree with you. I KNOW my child isn’t perfect, and I DEFINITELY compensate for it when in the presence of others, especially younger children, but when PARENTS act like children? Wow… that gets my back up a bit.

      Still, I’m sure there was a better, more attached, more gentle way of dealing with it, but I must tell you, I thought I’d give them a second try and went the following week and can assure you I won’t be going back for a third.

      Different strokes and all, but they’re just not my types of people, I guess…

  5. I”ve just finished reading “Siblings without Rivalry”, a book which I can wholly recommend, and whilst it’s directed at arguments and disputes that occur between children, I’m finding a lot of the stuff can be applied to the relationship between non-siblings as well. And one of its main premises is that children can sort things out themselves if allowed to. I haven’t had much opportunity to try out the suggested methods yet, as at 7 months, Olivia isn’t really at that stage yet, but in the situation you described above, the authors would suggest going over, describing the situation and simply saying something like “I’m sure you can find a solution that’s fair to everybody”, and going back to where you were before. In a sibling context, she even suggests leaving the room, so the children don’t feel the need to keep trying to get you to “take sides”, but I wouldn’t think that’s necessary here. In your situation, that would have the advantage that the other mums would be aware that you at least weren’t ignoring the situation.
    But yes, long-winded way of saying, you did the right thing 😉

    1. @Kathie Dapbim, Thanks Kathie, that’s a great bit of advice. I shall have a look at the book, too. I must admit, I don’t think those mums had the opportunity to think I was ignoring – they were too busy glaring at me glaring at them! But I was only reacting to them being mean 😉 It’s funny, I’ve never reacted that way to people before, so the whole situation took me by surprise, really!

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