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To think it's odd to ignore your children for 30mins while a stranger entertains them

(68 Posts)
lecce Sat 02-Jul-11 20:57:17

I take my dc, aged 4.4 and 23 months to an activity in which they have separate classes - the one for the eldest takes place after the younger one's lesson and parents have to leave the room so ds2 and I have 45 minutes to kill in a hall outside the classroom each week. I always take toys and snacks to occupy him, though he prefers to run around shouting, make himself dizzy, try and climb in the bin etc.

This week there was another family who also had dc of different ages attending the two classes - usually we are the only ones- and they had twins of a similar age to ds2 to wait with while their elder dd had her class.

Soon after the second class started I was busy following ds2 around the hall when I noticed the twins had got hold of ds1's backpack full of toys he occupies himself with while ds2 has his lesson. They were taking stuff out and playing with it. The mother was texting or gaming on her phone, she told them to stop, they didn't, she carried on with her phone activities. I was not overly concerned but just a bit worried that something would get lost and did think it a bit odd that she didn't do more to stop them - if my dc took another child's toys I would tell them to put it back until I was sure the other child was happy to share. I was more than happy for them to play with the toys btw, but thought it odd she let them help themselves while I was across the other side of the (large) room.

I made my way back to the seating area where the twins were playing with several of our toys, and the other mother said, "Sorry, I forgot to bring them any toys!" I said, "Don't be silly, it's fine," and she smiled and went back to her phone.

For the next 30 minutes or so I played with/read to all three dc while she played with her phone. She was sitting about 4 chairs away from us. At no point did she interact with me or her dc until the older dc came out. Her dc were clearly attracted to me, ds2 and our toys and books and didn't really go to her except to wander over a couple of times but they came straight back as she pretty much ignored them when they did this.

Now, it was fine, her dc were lovely, ds2 was entertained by them so I was saved from chasing him around so much and they helped me pack the toys away when I asked them to with no complaints. Great - I even quite enjoyed it. But I did think it very odd the way she ignored them, and me, like that. I feel I basically provided her with 30 minutes free childcare didn't I? Or AIBU to feel that way?

ttalloo Sat 02-Jul-11 21:05:47

YANBU at all; I've been in the same position as you, where a little girl adopted us at the park for an hour one day, while her mother sat and read a book, and didn't come near us at all until her daughter asked me take her to the loo, and I sent her to her mother. I didn't mind, up to a point, since I was at the park anyway, and the child was very nice, but my overwhelming feeling was of resentment that the mother got to sit and do her own thing while I entertained her child.

But you'll probably find lots of responses telling you that YABU because you should have said something at the time - and that it's the other mother's perfect right to take advantage of someone else's good nature, which is what I got when I posted on here about it.

Whereas if my boys gatecrashed another family, I'd be straight over to check that the family was OK with it (and looked like the kind of people I was happy for my children to be with), and take the opportunity to get to know them - after all, they might be nice.

The other mother, IMO, was selfish, lazy and rude.

SuchProspects Sat 02-Jul-11 21:43:31

YANBU about the toys. But the "free childcare" bit is entirely down to you. If you'd stopped entertaining them they'd most likely have got on with entertaining themselves. A parent shouldn't have to spend time trying to get their children to stop interacting with someone who's playing with them. If you aren't happy entertaining them, don't do it.

MeconiumHappens Sat 02-Jul-11 22:11:56

Obviously she has a severe mumsnet addiction and was probably posting on AIBU ;)
YANBU btw, i think the mums behaviour was odd, and a bit rude.

sims2fan Sat 02-Jul-11 22:35:26

I think a lot of people are quite happy for anyone to entertain their kids so they don't have to do it themselves. I was once at a family wedding and managed to get myself stuck outside the reception room watching a group of young kids. I was related to all of them but a couple I had only met once or twice previously. I didn't like to leave them as they were all under 5 and where we were led straight onto a busy road. I think once in about an hour someone looked in on us and then called to someone else "everything's fine, sims is with them," and went back to the party. These days I would have made the kids go through to the main room but I was only 21 and probably not assertive enough.

Someone I know once said, "I love going to other people's houses. It means I don't have to watch my child there because there are other people to do it." I think quite a few people share that attitude.

Plus, some people seem to have no idea how to entertain their own children. I once saw my cousin start to play with some play dough with her then 3 year old son. She lasted 2 minutes before asking her husband to take over. She just didn't know how to play with him, which was sad because she worked full time so couldn't really make the most of the time she did have with him as she didn't know what to do. Someone else was telling me she finds mornings difficult with her nearly 4 year old, as he goes to afternoon nursery and she doesn't know how to fill the time before he goes each day.

doozle Sat 02-Jul-11 22:39:13

I think you gave her the message that you were happy to play and talk to them.

Yep, she was a bit rude. But probably to her, everyone seemed happy so she just carried on.

RitaMorgan Sat 02-Jul-11 22:41:57

You enjoyed playing with her kids, they entertained your ds - don't see the problem?

lecce Sun 03-Jul-11 09:17:10

If you'd stopped entertaining them they'd most likely have got on with entertaining themselves. A parent shouldn't have to spend time trying to get their children to stop interacting with someone who's playing with them. If you aren't happy entertaining them, don't do it. Fair enough but I really don't think it's that simple. What do you do when a toddler is talking directly at you, asking you questions, telling you about thieir new shoes grin etc? Just blank them? I would have felt a right cow. i didn't want her to stop them interacting with me but would have liked it if she'd joined in a bit or chatted to me or something.

The thing is, I've seen a lot of people on her saying that parents shouldn't have to entertain dc as the dc should be encouraged to be independent and I guess that's what she was doing before I got involved. I have found though that young children like adults and as long as I was interacting with my ds, her twins would have wanted to get involved.

lecce Sun 03-Jul-11 09:21:09

here, not her

SuchProspects Sun 03-Jul-11 10:58:56

"I have found though that young children like adults and as long as I was interacting with my ds, her twins would have wanted to get involved."

Kids learning to be independent means them learning that not everyone they are interested in talking to is interested in talking to them. Blanking them seems a bit extreme and rude in general as a first step - you could have said something to their mother (as you noted) but you would still need to not encourage them. You could just answer them briefly then turn your attention back to your DC etc. Or tell them they need to tell their own mother about their new shoes. Or that you and your son are busy and suggest they do something else. Or (if you felt comfortable) you could have backed off and seen what your DCs and the twins did without you being involved.

But basically you ignore them as much as possible if you don't want to interact with them, otherwise you aren't just giving them the message that what they are doing is fine, you are encouraging them to do it more.

You seem to be complaining that because you were unable to parent the way you wanted to without her kids coming over she should recognize this (without any communication) and decide to facilitate your style of parenting rather than hers. I don't think that's particularly reasonable.

Nanny0gg Sun 03-Jul-11 11:04:18

If I had been the other parent and my dc had helped himself to another's toys then I would have taken myself over, checked that it was okay, and then joined in with the interaction. And <gasp> possibly even had a conversation with the well-organised mum.
There's a radical idea.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Sun 03-Jul-11 11:18:25

She said "sorry" and you said "it's OK"...should she have realised you really didn't mean it then? hmm

OrangeHat Sun 03-Jul-11 11:26:11

hahaha she got a lovely break didn't she!

I think she should have stopped them going through the bag.
But the entertaining bit, you were enjoying it and probably looked like you were, all the children were, you said it was fine.... So can't really blame her for grabbing herself half an hour grin

bruffin Sun 03-Jul-11 11:55:00

We used to go to church when DD was little and always sat at the back in a play area.
One of the choir had a little girl same age as DD. She asked a childminder who I know by sight to look after her in church while she sang. The cm dumped the child on me, not even asking or telling me the girls name.
During the service this girl kicked my DD,screwed up the drawing paper,threw crayons around and was a general pain.
At the end the cm took child back to mum. Told the mum the girl was a good as gold and was the other children that were being noisy.
I was gobsmacked. I knew the family who she cm for and sometimes wished I had said something to them.

IslaValargeone Sun 03-Jul-11 12:01:56

Just recently one of the neighbour's kids came round to play, we were in the garden as it was a lovely day. Shortly afterwards the mum drove past our house and asked if it was ok that she and the friend she had over, popped to Tesco for something they had forgotten for their barbecue, she'd be 20 minutes.
"Not a problem" said I.
3 hours later they returned, after deciding to stop for coffee and do a bit of shopping, with the excuse that she didn't think we'd mind as her dc is "so easy" to look after.

PuppyMonkey Sun 03-Jul-11 12:03:03

We were in the beer garden at our local last night and ended ip entertaining several little kids of complete strangers while their parents got squiffy. We quite enjoyed it and our DD loved it too. Then we went home. The parents said a massive thank you as we left. Yes it was cheeky, but we didn't mind much, so whatevers.

oranges Sun 03-Jul-11 12:06:35

oh blush I'd do this. If ds had attached himself to another child or group and everyone seemed cheerful and happy I'd leave them to it. should i go over and take him away? or insist I read the story/played with the kids instead?

quimbledonsemi Sun 03-Jul-11 12:33:42

I think YABU. Quite often when I'm reading to dd at toddler group/the library some other kids come and join in. I would find it more odd if the parents came over and insisted only THEY read to THEIR child.
Of course the kids were more interested in you and your child - they see their mum every day. And I don't agree it's free childcare - the mum was there supervising and the kids would have played with whatever was close by - be that a potted plant in the corridor or you and your child - you just happened to be the most entertaining things there.
Very strange attitude imo.

youarekidding Sun 03-Jul-11 12:47:54

isla shock Now that is taking the piss.

Yesterday went to beach with friend, DS and her 2 DC's. I ended up in the sea (flat sandy beach so all shallow and knee deep) with our 3DC's twin DD's of 4yo, and 2 boys or 5 and 6 yo playing tag. grin They all loved my cookies I'd made as well.

At least when they sall started to join in with our digging (before sea) the parents asked if I minded.

YANBU to be annoyed she didn't stop them going through the bag but as you didn't send them away then I guess the mum thought you didn't mind.

bluebellewood Sun 03-Jul-11 16:22:25

We were on holiday at a hotel with a spa and pool. I was playing with my 2 dc when a father came along with a three year old. He completely ignored his child, who was a pleasant little chap. His little boy attatched himself to us for the rest of the afternoon. We had a pleasant time whilst the father read the news paper. After a few hours we got ready to leave and the man thanked me.

The next day the little boy ran up to us at the pool and greeted us like long lost friends. We spoke to him and his mother charged over, grabbed the child and in a loud hectoring tone admonished me. Apparently as a STRANGER I was threatening her child and putting him in DANGER, and I was to ignore him if he approached me again!!!!!!!

I was so taken aback that I did not explain that I had entertained him for the entire afternoon the day before.

clutteredup Sun 03-Jul-11 16:32:42

There are two types of parents, those who leave others to look after their DC and those who look after their own DC and pick up for the others.
We latter I feel are too approachable and don't like to tell small children to bog off - and can't - and don't know how to get rid of them once they've attached themselves.
It's a sad fact of life that some people take advantage of others - I have felt bad about not sharing my picnic with strange children who have attached themselves to me and my DC - and have shared things- the problem is if they had been allergic or something I'd probably have been prosecuted.
Life's not fair!

HidinginaHardHat Sun 03-Jul-11 16:35:28

I don't mind if children of a similar age to my DC tag onto us as it keeps all the kids occupied for 20mins or so. Today, for instance, we spent a couple of hours down the pub (shame on us!) where they had a bouncy castle. The kids were all going mental and everyones kids bugged everyones parents equally. It's good fun and given half the chance wouldn't you do it?

I reckon the OP is jealous of the other woman really grin

HidinginaHardHat Sun 03-Jul-11 16:36:21

Meant to say, i do mind if children who are significantly younger tag on. I'm done with weenies and cant be doing with parents who are willing to let toddlers go off with strangers. Look after them yourself, i've had my turn!

clutteredup Sun 03-Jul-11 16:41:36

Sure OP is jealous of other mum, I think she said so. I am jealous of other parents who have no qualms about taking advantage of other people to get some time off to read a book or just 5 minutes peace.

lecce Sun 03-Jul-11 17:16:06

Some really intersting replies thanks.

SuchProspects I can't imagine saying to a 2yo "You need to tell your mummy about your shoes." That's what I should have said? Really?

I am also a little hmm at this: You seem to be complaining that because you were unable to parent the way you wanted to without her kids coming over she should recognize this (without any communication) and decide to facilitate your style of parenting rather than hers. I don't think that's particularly reasonable. I don't understand what you mean. I didn't want anything from her in the beginning - _ just wanted to play with my child. Her twins interfered with that so, yes, she needed to interfere because her children had come over to me. How is stopping your dc from (possibly - they weren't really, I admit) disturbing others defined as having to facilitate the other parent's style of parenting?? I've never heard anything so odd. It was her children who initiated the interaction so surely the onus was on her to get involved? In order for me to 'facilitate' her style I would have had to speak to her dc in a way that would have made me feel uncomfortable - why should I have to do that just to allow her to play on her phone for 30 minutes ffs?

Tbh, I agree with a lot of the other comments that suggest IMBU - I didn't want her to swoop in and insist only she read to her own dc but what I did find odd was the way she ignored us all. The odd comment, a bit of eye contact, her offering to read once we'd got to the 4th story - any of that would have been nice. Instead she just played on her phone the whole time.

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