Seeing Red

At gymnastics today, an older girl (2 years) randomly reached out and shoved Elanor hard enough that E went to the floor.  My jaw fell open and I immediately picked E up who had started crying.  I then turned to the little girl and asked her to say “sorry.”  THIS is the point where her mom steps in and says “she’s only 2.”  She did follow it up with an “is she okay?” but there was no interaction where she told her daughter “no shoving” or to say sorry to E.

This is the point where I morphed into SuperBitch and snapped back “My daughter is 19 months and says sorry when she shoves or hits.”

E melted down minutes later.  She wouldn’t let me put her down, she kept asking for food, and the class was maybe five minutes away from ending, so I just let the teacher know we were heading out and we left.

I also, with full knowledge that the other helper sitting in the waiting room was the mother of the girl who shoved Elanor, spent the few minutes it took to get E’s shoes on, get mine on and to pack up the stroller, venting about idiot parents who think their PRESHUSH BAY-BEES are too young to learn manners.

I am not mad that E got shoved.  Toddlers and pre-schoolers have poor manners.

I am FURIOUS with the mother.  I was, in fact, so furious that I had a deep urge to punch the mom.  I am not a violent person.  I also realize that wanting to punch someone does not teach MY daughter to not hit.

I guess part of it is that I had a lot of students over the years whose parents bought into the “my child is only….therefore they can’t/don’t understand/aren’t old enough to….”  This little girl, if the mom doesn’t shape up and wake up, will one day be just as big a brat as the parent who would stand there and insist that HER son didn’t (mouth off/cheat on a test/ disobey direct safety instructions) while her son sat there admitting he did it.  While he’d admit the infraction, he did so only because he knew there were no consequences to be had.

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11 Responses to Seeing Red

  1. Saffy says:

    I’d be pissed off too. Dare I ask, was that mom another expat?

    And yeah, I got that kind of reasoning from parents when I was a teacher too. It seemed the brattier the kid, the more PRESHUSH 🙂 the kid was and could do no wrong. I vowed, and I hope I don’t let myself down, to not turn into *that* kind of parent.

    Maybe that mom will be different next week. There’s always hope.

    • Crystal says:

      She was. Possibly even another American. We can hope but I’m realistic that those sorts rarely change.

  2. i get that the point you’re making is that the mom should have taken responsibility for teaching her kid that shoving is not nice and that it hurts other kids, but i do take exception to the “sorry” bit. it’s something i never really thought about before it was brought up to me by someone else, but a 2-year-old who shoves is not sorry. he or she did it because he or she felt something — angry, sad, threatened, frustrated. they are not remorseful for doing it and i don’t think we, as parents, should be forcing them to apologize for something they are not sorry for.

    i do, however, think we should be explaining other ways to vent the feeling and explaining that shoving hurts, etc. should the kid, when he or she develops appropriate empathy eventually actually feel remorseful and decide to express that remorse, then that is one thing, but i know that my 19-month-old doesn’t feel sorry when he pushes out of frustration and i don’t force him to a rote apology.

    if i were the parent of the shover, i might have apologized myself because i would feel genuinely sorry that elanor was hurt and i would probably apologize to you. then i would say to the who, “i know you were angry/sad/whatever, but it is not ok to push when you feel that way.” end of story.

    also, end of my rant about toddlers and saying sorry. 🙂

    • Aimee says:

      This is an interesting point. However, toddlers don’t always act because of feelings, sometimes they are just curious or impulsive. I do ask my 19 month old to say “sorry” just as I ask him to say “please” and “thank you.” I also tell him not to push, hit, etc, because it hurt his friend, and to say sorry for hurting them…I also ask him to say sorry after a time out or other situations that require a sorry. How will he know that he should feel sorry if I don’t teach him to?

      • well, imo, “sorry’ is not the same as “please” and “thank you.”
        “sorry”, to me, indicates a sense of remorse and apology that really only means something when it comes from somewhere deeper than a young toddler can access. and further, teaching him to say something that has no meaning to him yet might actually be doing him a disservice — teaching him that what’s important is just saying what people want to hear instead of actually teaching apology and empathy when he is developmentally ready to incorporate it. i’d rather, at this age, to focus my energy on teaching him the consequences of his actions (“when you pushed elanor, that hurt her. we don’t push.”) and then when he’s older, address the apologizing part.

        but, really, it only makes sense to apologize when you are truly sorry and usually, one is only really sorry when he or she didn’t intend to hurt someone. an accident. or a misjudgement. when a toddler kicks or pushes, chances are she meant it and is not sorry and i don’t want to teach my son to say he is sorry when he isn’t. rather, i want to teach him not to intend to hurt people and to say sorry when he truly didn’t mean it.

      • Crystal says:

        When you accidentally bump someone walking in a crowded hall, do you say sorry? Do you feel genuine remorse? Or do you say sorry because that’s the social convention?

        For me it’s the latter.

        I’m a big believer in teaching the manners dictated by social norms. I don’t give a damn about elbows on the table, but E wants to put her feet there. So we are teaching her that it is wrong to do so. When she wants something she shrieks…and we refuse to give it to her until she uses please. We ask her to say thank you. We have her say “hi” and “bye” and we are teaching her to say sorry.

        Now, if we’re all being completely honest, I say thank you reflexively at 31 years of age. How often do I feel genuine gratitude? If it’s giving me a drink in a restaurant…not at all. But I’ve been the waitress and it’s nice be acknowledged with a “thank you” so I do it.

        Toddlers are not civilized creatures. If we don’t impose rules and behavoirs upon them, it all devolves into beyond thunderdome pretty quickly (Aimee–do you remember E, CJ and the lion?). My kid is JUST as uncivilized as every other toddler.

        But…in my eyes…there are appropriate ways to teach manners.

        Last week E shoved a friend at the zoo because he dared to touch a button she was pushing. I got in there, had her give G a “gentle touch,” say sorry, and warned her if it happened again, she’d get a time out. When she shoved him again not three seconds later we did the time out and I apologized to the little boy.

        Elanor may not understand exactly why she was punished, but when it happens often enough, she’ll get it and she’ll stop the behavior. This was true of touching our books on low bookcase shelves, and it will be true of putting her feet on the table and pushing/shoving/hitting.

        I like the idea of labeling the way the friend is feeling. But developmentally they’re not going to get empathy for a while. I may start doing that in addition to my other methods but I’m not going to stop making her apologize.

      • ps: good point about it not always being in response to a feeling. sometimes it is just curiosity. same thing goes, though. “elanor felt sad when you pushed her.” (explaining cause and effect, if that was his goal to find out) and then, “please don’t push.”

      • Just found this on a NYT parenting blog and thought it was timely, given this thread:
        http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/02/teaching-children-to-apologize-2/

      • Crystal says:

        I see the point, as I saw yours, but I still feel you learn to play by the rules of the society you live in. I appreciate basic politeness, like a “sorry” when I’m bumped on the subway but I don’t think the person is feeling tremendous remorse or really any. It’s the polite thing to say in that situation.

  3. Rachel M says:

    On Charlotte’s birthday she got bopped on the head by a child who was under one and his mom and grandmother were horrified and kept apologizing. Charlotte was fine, didn’t cry and it was okay but reading this I’m really glad the parents were so concerned!

    • Crystal says:

      I think that’s what really got my back up…that the mom didn’t care at all. It’s been like a week and I’m over it now.

      I was a little thrown at the level of rage though…I’ve never really gone all mama bear on anyone (except to be bitchy to people on airplanes who have been jerks).

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