Wednesday, June 6, 2012


I met one of my girlfriends with her infant son at a music class yesterday. It was one of those classes where the instructors bring a bunch of percussion instruments - drums, sticks, bells, tambourines - for the kids to play, while the adults clap and sing along with the instructors. The instruments are there for everyone to use and share. Although possession rules get messy when you're dealing with toddlers, there didn't seem to be any major incidents with sharing and taking turns.

(But can someone please explain to me WHY these instructors bring hand drums and lots of sharp, wooden percussion instruments and drumsticks and then spend the majority of class trying to explain to the kids and their caregivers that they can't bang on the drums with the sticks because the drum heads will break?! I do not understand why they do this! But I digress.)

There was a lady next to us whose son looked to be a few months younger than mine. He danced around for a bit, sat on his mat playing with a stuffed snake that he'd found, and eventually dropped the snake and went to play with some instruments on the other side of the room.

A few minutes later, my son saw the snake and started playing with it. He was slithering it around on the floor, you know, like snakes do. Then he got down on the floor next to it and started pretending to be a snake too. So darned cute!

That's when the other little boy noticed that my son was playing with the stuffed snake and started walking over to him.

I thought, "This is going to be interesting," as I headed over to help manage the situation. For the last year, my son and I have been working on using his words to talk about his feelings when he's upset, to ask for a turn on the swings, to let a friend know when he's playing with something that he'll let them have a turn when he's finished. He's not perfect at it, which is why I'm there to help. But the other parent needs to be receptive to our efforts, or at the very least remain uninvolved. So I was glad that the other lady also got up and headed in their direction.

But when she got there, she took the snake out of my son's hands and told her boy, "Let's give this back to the little girl it belongs to." Then she walked away, with her son toddling after her.

I was stunned. And speechless. My son ran over to me and curled up in my lap, while I sat there trying to understand what had happened. I was just as confused as my son was. My initial reaction was, "What the sh*t was that all about?" My next reaction was, "XXXX XXX XXXXXX XXXX! XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXXX XXX!!!"

I couldn't believe that I'd just watched a grownup snatch a toy away from my son and I hadn't said anything. Hadn't I spent countless hours explaining to my son that we don't take things from other people? That we can say, "That toy belongs to that person over there. Will you give it back to her when you're finished?" That we need to learn how to ask for things if we want something, that it's never okay to grab something out of someone's hand?


I totally failed yesterday. I failed to stand up for my son. I didn't say, "Excuse me, but my son was playing with that." I really wanted to give that lady a piece of my mind, but I didn't think of the right words until I was in the car on the way home. I'm still really angry, mostly because I could have done something, but I didn't. I'm not even talking about a beat-down. I might have modeled a more appropriate way to handle the situation, and yet I watched it happen and showed my son that I don't feel comfortable standing up for him, or myself.

You better damn well believe that isn't happening ever again. Not on my watch.


  1. I think as a society, we're also taught to be nice to others, and when we're faced with rudeness, it's almost considered rude to point it out. I would've been shocked as well, but at least next time you'll be defending your son if it happened again. Great post!

  2. That just made me so mad!! Just so you know, you didn't fail. I could see myself doing the same thing. Standing there in shock, thinking ... WTF? But actually that's when I probably would've said to Laurel (just loud enough for the whole room to hear), "You know Laurel, just because she is a mommy doesn't mean that it was OK for her to grab that out of your hands. She should have asked you before she just grabbed it, but just like some kids, not everyone knows that's NOT OK."

    1. Thanks, C! That's exactly what I'd have loved to say, had I not been so shocked. I'll have to practice this for the next time it happens.