I’m sure that your child (or children) are perfect. I know mine are, and so I can write this, knowing that whenever they go round to someone else’s house they never misbehave, ask for anything they shouldn’t and generally observe all of the subtle social niceties which make them such perfect guests. They are often invited around for play dates, usually to model excellent behaviour to unruly miscreants, and are exquisitely polite on every occasion they go out. Well, aside from the nose picking, loud farting, and frequent checking that their privates haven’t disappeared. But really they wouldn’t be kids if they didn’t do that stuff would they?
In all seriousness, I like to think that my kids are pretty good whenever they are out. We encourage them to say please and thank you (as we were taught to do ourselves) and to respect adults. When I was a kid there was nothing worse than being told off by someone else’s Mum or Dad. That’s actually not true. Being told off by a complete stranger was even more humiliating, unless we were goading that stranger, in which case that was the best feeling in the world.
As parents though we have a rather warped idea of what our kids are actually like. Just to be clear I’m not just talking about Mrs L. and I. We do think that they are without fault, and can’t see that their “cute” idiosyncrasies’, are actually just a bit crazy! I remember overhearing a Mum in a park saying to her friend “Our little one is going through a bit of a bitey phase at the moment, but I don’t really like to interfere. I’m sure he’ll grow out of it in his own time.” Shortly afterwards, the little “angel” actually did bite another child, but rather than being sternly reprimanded, his simpering mother told him that “We don’t do that sort of thing do we sweetheart? Now go and play,” all in the most saccharine manner possible. As I strongly suspected her child wasn’t vaccinated and I didn’t want to expose my kids to the chance of catching rabies, at that point we left. I felt it my duty to give her a withering look, but they only go so far when they are aimed at the back of someone’s head.
I am, as I have said before, a bit of a grumpy old man, but I really can’t bear it when parents don’t tell their kids off for such obvious transgressions. There are a great many things which other people’s kids (and my own) do which annoy me but the very greatest faux pas any child can possibly commit is to go “up” the slide. It irritates me because it is so obviously not what the equipment is for. To me it’s like taking your bike into the swimming pool.
And in the same way that all the oil from your bicycle will get into the pool and ruin the fun for everyone else, so going up the slide prevents the next child (often mine) from descending. Even worse, when one kid starts doing it, then they all want to have a go, my own children included! Just yesterday, I had to give Boy-Boy a stern reprimanding for that.
Curiously this isn’t a recent loathing for me. Even as a kid I hated it when the big boys ran up towards me as I was waiting patiently for my turn to gently swish downwards. These were often the kids who would also push-in in front of me, not let me go on the swing, or spin the roundabout so fast that I would feel sick. I am pleased to say that after many years of intense therapy I can now proudly go on a roundabout, and frequently do( much to my children’s embarrassment).
Imagine my horror then, Nanny and Gargar were showing me their holiday photos (it gets worse), and I came across some pictures of Jojo going up the slide. Now I realise that he is a little shy of fourteen months old, and so he can’t be held fully responsible, but in the photo, Nanny seemed to be actually encouraging him.
These were people who we let into my house. We enjoyed games of Scrabble with them and went on holiday together. They stayed with us for nearly two months. I’ll never be able to look at them in the same light again.
I thought I knew them.
I thought that they were civilized.
You are right to think that I’m over reacting just a little bit! However well adjusted you are, I’m fairly certain that you’d find something which make you a little unusual. I know I have plenty but I try really hard not to force my own peculiarities onto my own children.
If they grow up being frightened of lamp posts, hate a particular shade of blue, or adore Justin Beiber, these will be opinions which they have shaped for themselves. It is folly to think that you don’t influence your children’s opinions, but ultimately I would like to equip them with the tools to formulate their own world view. I’m sure that for a while they will think that I’m an idiot and oppose my views just because they are my views, but in the end I would like them to understand why they believe what they do, even if they are at odds with what I would like for them.
One thing is certain however; they will never go up a slide when I’m with them!