Monday, 19 July 2010

Telling off other people's kids

At Clissold Park's LolliBop on Sunday, which was generally enjoyed by the whole Hackney family I was watching HackneyChild bounce on the inflatable farm with half an eye and looking at a chair with the other eye and a half, wondering if I would be allowed to sit down on it. Suddenly there was a wail from the inflatable and a mum started shouting at a child: "HOW DARE YOU??? HOW DARE YOU HIT/PUSH ANOTHER CHILD LIKE THAT?? YOU ARE A HORRIBLE CHILD!!".

From my chair coveting position I couldn't see who she was shouting at but I assumed her own child, probably quite an old one, had hit another. Even with that caveat it sounded a bit over the top but parents do get harassed and who knows what the little darling had been up to previously that day. But shifting positions nosily, I saw her carry off a weeping toddler while the child she had shouted at (aged three or four?), clearly not her own, looked kind of traumatised and stood there for the rest of the bounce session not bouncing and looking worried.

Now I didn't see what he did, but I still wondered what my reaction would have been. It's always a dilemma, telling off other people's kids, especially when their parents are right there but perhaps didn't see what their little one just did. I felt sorry for the hitting child. Then again, maybe he won't do it again and I do think we must all have the right to "tell off" children if they behave unacceptably in public, especially if it is impacting on us or our children. I guess there is a line somewhere. What do you think?


Planethalder said...

Such a difficult question, isn't it? I know my gut reaction, should anyone - adult or child - hurt my daughter, would be anger even rage. My instinct would be to shout in the heat of the moment but my rational self would tell me to calm down, remove daughter and then explain to adult/child that that was not appropriate. Easy to be rational outside of the moment, isn't it?

I think you're right though: I doubt that child would hit/push so easily again.

Hackney Hackette said...

Hello! It is indeed easy to be rational afterwards/ before. I rarely tell children off but I got a bit more forthright after a child shoved HackneyChild and I didn't say anything - the look of betrayal in his eyes as he knew he would have been told off for doing that was so dreadful I now act on the "if I'd tell my own child off for that I'll say something" regime.
I did tell a child in the Museum of CHildhood to play nicely as he was snatching Lego, and he said "I'll tell my mum on you". It was very hard to suppress my initial reaction which was to go "ooh, I'm so scared." Luckily I remembered in time that I am a grown up.

swimmer6foot4 said...

Wow! I see things in a quite different light. With largely absent parents (working), when we were growing up my siblings and I could have become quite feral, were it not for the many adults who cared for us, and corrected us, often without really knowing who we were.

It wasn't exactly Cider with Rosie but, growing up in a rural village, there were lots of hazards and dangers about and, in retrospect, many of those authoritarian figures with booming voices probably saved our lives and limbs and taught us about both the code of the countryside and the code of life.

Here in Hackney I've intervened quite a few times although generally because I care about kids and think they need to learn right from wrong, rather than out of anger or rage (I'll happily save that for the parents).

However, intervention with other people's children is not always well received. Once I found a neighbour's child collapsed on the road, no response, no pulse, no breath. I shouted for help and began CPR, as I've been trained to. His family arrived to find me pressing down my hand onto the boy's chest and maybe thought I was attacking him, so they attacked me. Thankfully the ambulance arrived soon after and he eventually regained conciousness and recovered. Years later he grew into a thug and he and his family terrorised me and my neighbours by throwing stones, calling names and playing loud music all day and night. I spend hours in therapy chewing over the dichotomy and ambivalence I felt.

Eventually they moved away and were rehoused ... into a flat a few yards away from my therapist!