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I need a polite way to tell people to bugger off, and a reassuring explanation for dd

(21 Posts)
Lawks Thu 26-Feb-09 17:25:41

Often when we are out people start talking to my children, making a fuss of them etc. Dd (2.8) hates it. She is in a rather wary and unsociable phase at the moment, and does not want to talk to adults she doesn't know. Still, she has to be polite, so I sort of answer for her and smile and we move on.

But why must people tell her they are going to steal her brother? They ask if they can have him (he's 10 months), and when she doesn't answer (she just sort of glowers and ignores them) they assume she hasn't understood and they really hammer the point home; "can I keep him?" "shall I take him home with me?" "are you going to let me have your brother?" "oh thank you I'll look after him".

People mean to be nice, and they are only joking, but she finds it really distressing and has more than once broken down sobbing because she doesn't want some stranger to steal her brother away. We left an aquarium yesterday with ds yelping because she wanted to hold on to his wrist so tightly to make sure we kept him.

It all happens a bit quickly, and there's not always an escape (eg supermarket queue).

How do I politely but firmly tell the nice people who are just being friendly to stop traumatising my daughter? What words should I use?

How do I explain it to my dd? I've tried to explain people are joking, and what a joke it, but she's unconvinced. I've promised her that I would NEVER let anyone take ds away from us. It's all getting a bit heavy tbh. She's getting anxious around strangers and is, I think, on the lookout to make sure that no one steals him while we're out.

What to do?

(As an afterthought, since you're here, is it okay for her to be going through a rather furiously antisocial phase? I'm assuming it is a phase, and whilst I don't want her to think it's okay to be rude, I also don't feel I want to come down too harshly about it. I can't exactly make her be pleasant by force...)

Marthasmama Thu 26-Feb-09 17:29:16

Awwww bless her. I don't have any advice, but what a sweetie your DD is. It is hard explaining things like that to little ones.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 26-Feb-09 17:37:28

How bizarre - is your DS a particularly attractive child that everyone wants to steal him? The only time I've heard of such behaviour is in Five Children and It when everyone wants the Lamb....

Can you just get in quickly and firmly with, No, my little girl loves her baby brother very much and we wouldn't part with him for all the tea in China. or suchlike.

Not many toddlers - or even quite a bit older - like talking to strangers. Even if they aren't being weird!

PartOfTheHumphreysGroup Thu 26-Feb-09 17:37:41

Could say 'oh don't worry, the lady is just joking' to your dd at the time the person is saying it? Would hopefully take the wind out of other person's sails and reassure dd.
I.e. say it pointedly to dd and ignore interfering person?

Lawks Thu 26-Feb-09 17:44:29

Thank you Martha'sMama. She's not actually that cute the way she glowers stonily at people who are only trying to be nice wink.

No, ds isn't particularly attractive, well obviously I think he is, but he's quite a smiley boy and I think he grins and flaps and entices people to come over and steal him. Plus he's very fat. People like a fat baby.

Dd can't quite get a handle on what joking means.

gonaenodaethat Thu 26-Feb-09 17:46:32

It is bizarre that people say that.
I think Grimma's advice is good i.e We wouldn't part with him.

And I wouldn't worry about the antisocial thing.

My dd (now six) used to say, loudly 'Mummy, me no like that man/woman' whenever anyone talked to her.

She's lovely now. I think they just grow out of it.

Lawks Thu 26-Feb-09 17:52:08

I'm glad people think it's bizarre. I think it's an odd thing to say.

Yes, firmly declining the offer is a good idea. It will reassure her to hear me say it.

pagwatch Thu 26-Feb-09 17:52:16

Do you live in a really peculiar area? I grew up next to a psychiatric hospital and I still have never heard of hoards of deranged people threatening young children with threats of stealing their siblings.

Really staggeringly bizarre.

If it ever happened to me I guess I would just say very loudly "don't worry DD the nice man/woman is only joking and does not realise he/she is frightening you" and then I would move.
I would definately move.

I would also work on making jokes at home so that she understands that things people say are not always literal. Does she understand jokes in other contexts?

WouldYouCouldYouWithAGoat Thu 26-Feb-09 17:54:39

dd just glowers at strangers when they speak to her, i think it is to be encouraged. just look them in the eye and say 'stop frightening my child you freak'

Sxx Thu 26-Feb-09 17:56:41

I've had a similar thing happen with my 2, I just went along with the joke and said 'Oh yes please, can you take this one too?'. I did it in such an obviously jokey way that my daughter's scowl turned to a smile. I tink it was easier for her to judge when I was joking than the stranger, she knows I'd never give them away really wink xxx

Marthasmama Thu 26-Feb-09 17:56:43

I don't think it's that strange tbh. Lots of people say they want to take DD home with them. She's 4 months and very smiley. And all the 'aunties' at DS's nursery always said they wanted to take him home with them. Labouring the point to a toddler is a bit weird though.

lilQuidditchKel Thu 26-Feb-09 17:57:30

What pagwatch said. Every word.

Lawks Thu 26-Feb-09 18:10:46

Good to know there are lots of stonily glowering children about.

She does get jokes in other contexts. I'll tell her we're having boiled snails for supper and she roars with laughter because she knows we're not. Or I'll tell her that ds is going to drive daddy to work while she gets me my breakfast, that sort of thing, and she loves it.

I'd move, only we'd be bound to move to an area where it is standard to 'joke' with toddlers that you're going to run over their dog or something.

lilQuidditchKel Thu 26-Feb-09 18:18:27

TBH I find it quite disturbing that people think it's funny to 'joke' about stealing a child. WTF??!!? I don't blame your DD whatsoever to be totally unimpressed and upset by these loonies people. IMHO, snails for supper is actually quite funny in a silly way. But there is nothing silly about child abduction...

CherryChoc Thu 26-Feb-09 18:21:07

My DP's gran says things like this. When she first met DS he fell asleep as she was holding him (he was 2 weeks old) and she said "Ooh, he'll have to come home with me, give me his bottle and his blanket!"

Since I was breastfeeding and we hadn't brought a blanket I just took it as a joke. She does make some odd comments though. On a similar note, a friend of mine from school had gorgeous long blonde wavy hair, a friend of her mum's once joked that it was so lovely she wanted to come into her bedroom at night and steal it - she was terrified to sleep then with this friend around in case she woke up bald!

justgaveup Fri 27-Feb-09 13:24:19

I don't think it's an odd thing to say either, loads of strangers have said it to me with both my kids, in supermarkets and out and about...it's a compliment and just like a standard line from older people.

However, can see how it's scary for your little girl. Agree with the others, if it happens again just say laughingly 'no way, we're not parting from him are we (little girl?)'...that way she'll begin to understand that it's a joke and you're not threatened and you're reasurring her aswell (and also hopefully person saying it will back off a bit)

People are a bit thick sometimes aren't they?

pagwatch Fri 27-Feb-09 13:29:48

It is not odd to say to a parent 'gosh how sweet - can i keep him/her - can I take him/her home'

It is incredibly odd for lots of people to be saying it repeatedly ( to "hammer the point home") to a small child who is ignoring/blanking them and clearly not engaging. And to do so so regularly that a child is yelling and holding on to her brother
That is weird

plonker Fri 27-Feb-09 13:37:54

Jeez, you lot are soooo serious!!

Clearly it is meant as a compliment to how gorgeous and abductable your ds is.

I would handle it the same was as justgaveup, just laugh (and prove to your daughter that it is indeed a joke!) and say that you're not parting with him.

I very often say how beautiful a baby is when talking to their mum/sister/brother have been known to say "oooh I could just eat him all up!!". I wonder what you lot would make of the crazy plonker lady grin

<Disclaimer: Plonker doesn't really eat babies up> wink

pagwatch Fri 27-Feb-09 13:46:53

I like crazy plonker ladies grin.

My favorite one was a woman who came up and started telling me that DD had 'old' eyes and was a crystal child and destined for great healing, beauty and spirituality.
All the whoile DS1 stood there rolling his eyes. As we left he said 'jeez mum you are a total weirdo magnet'

And DS2 ( ASD) was having major issue in Boots when a woman came up and explained that he had autism because I did not let the Lord jesus Christ into my life.

I meet lots of weridos and i like them. I feel a strange affinity. They just don't usually scare the crap out of my children...
grin

MamacitaGordita Fri 27-Feb-09 14:25:46

Poor OP's daughter- think refusing them is the best tactic.

Hmm pagwatch think DH must have grown up in your town as MIL still very proudly tells of the time an old lady came up to them and told MIL how the baby had 'an incredible blue aura.'

Jewelsandgems Fri 27-Feb-09 19:40:04

Well Lawks, my DD is going through the exact same antisocial thing. We were in the doctors yesterday and everyone in the waiting room was smiling at her and things, and she said very loud* "Mummy, I do not like these people" and she kept saying it! I was like 'ha ha she wanted to go to the vets, not the doctors' [the vets was on TV that morning]

My DD is the same as yours, so maybe it is just a stage....hope so

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