I realized last week that I am one of those moms who butts in when my kids aren’t getting treated fairly. In my defense, I am a teacher, and sometimes that teacher persona takes over, but I am wondering if I am truly helping or just making the situation worse. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:
A while back (a LONG while- like, when Ephraim was 2) we were at an indoor playground in a mall that had a little slide. There were a couple of kids who were going up the slide instead of down it. Had no other kids been around, I would not have cared, but there were a bunch of kids, including some toddlers, trying to go down the slide the correct way. And here were these two hooligans getting in everyone’s way. So I went over there and asked the two to go up the steps to the slide and come down the right way. Then I proceeded to stand there and play slide police for about 10 minutes. No parent approached me or shot me dirty looks, so I figured I was okay.
Fast forward to last week. After Ephraim’s T-ball game, the kids wanted to play at the ball park playground. There’s a spinny-thingy (don’t you love my eloquent description?) that my kids wanted to play on, but two girls were already on it. I told Madeleine and Ephraim to wait a few minutes and the girls would probably get off. Ten minutes later, the girls were still on, and in fact, the older girl was making the younger girl run in circles and spin the contraption while she (the older girl) just rode. Madeleine told me that she really wanted to have a turn, so I told her to go over to the girls and ask if she could have a turn. (You have to give me a little credit for trying to make my kid solve her problem herself before I butt in.) Well, the girls didn’t move. Here’s how the conversation (with the older girl) went:
Me: Hey, you guys have been on it a while. Can my kids have a turn?
Girl: We’ve only been on it 4 minutes.
Me: Well, 4 minutes is a long time. Someone else wants a turn.
Annoying Girl: We’re on it right now.
Me: And you can get back on after they have a turn.
Bratty Girl: Well, okay but she (pointing to younger girl) has to push!
In the end, my kids got to ride, but I was thinking some pretty terrible things about that little girl. And, I admit, about her mom, who was watching all this.
So here’s my question. Am I right or wrong? When do parents let their kids fight their own battles and maybe get hurt a little? When do parents get involved and try to help solve their kids’ problems? Where is the line?