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Yes, I am that woman [Oct. 28th, 2007|08:32 am]
Yesterday was the Fall Carnival at The Boy's school. Many years ago, this was a very cool carnival. Every class did some sort of game or booth. Then, about five years ago, someone got the idea to have several classes get together and rent a bouncy obstacle course. It was very popular with the kids, of course. And somehow, between now and then, "Fall Carnival" has been redefined to mean "Three or four game booths and seven bouncy things".

Which, I suppose, would not be such a big deal, if the school hadn't also changed from tickets to a wristband system. That annoys me all in itself, because now going to the carnival requires a minimum output of fifteen bucks. Before, I could choose how much to spend. I could decide to buy five or ten dollars worth of tickets and tell my kids, when the tickets are gone, it's time to go home. With the wristband, not only am I forced to shell out possibly more than I would have chosen to spend, but I get to be the bad guy and be the one who (seemingly arbitrarily) says when it's time to go home. Did I mention that the carnival this year was from 4:00 - 8:00? Dinnertime? Too soon to eat beforehand (especially with all that bouncing) and too late to wait until afterwards to have dinner. 

I foresee a spot on the carnival committee in my future. Not that it will help.

But that's a different rant. This rant is about the bouncy things, and the wristband system. Because, apparently, when there was no longer a need to collect tickets, there was no longer a need to have parents actually work the attractions. Yup, with the exception of the obstacle course, which (sometimes) had one parent vaguely paying attention to how many kids went in at a time, and no one paying attention to how many bothered to come out again, none of the bouncy structures were supervised. None.

Now, I don't consider myself an overprotective parent. Maybe I am. Maybe allowing unlimited numbers of elementary aged children climb into a structure that clearly states it only holds ten safely is a good idea. Maybe letting them climb the walls and try to sit on top of a 10-foot inflatable wall while other kids try to knock them off is a good idea. Maybe letting so many children into a structure that it collapses is a good idea. If all those things are good ideas, then OK, I'm wrong about the not being overprotective thing. But I'm gonna go with my instincts, and posted warnings.

So, there was this one bouncy thing, that was a big square, but had some obstacle-type stuff in it. A big triangle to climb and slide down, some pillars to run through, and a wall with cutouts to climb through. It was a very popular structure. The max number of kids posted was between 8 (for toddlers) and 4 (for teens). At one point, I counted fifteen kids in there. There was one group of about four boys, who had been in there for at least 30 minutes, who were getting really rowdy. They were climbing the netting. They were trying to climb to the top of the unetted wall, to sit on it. They would climb the slide thing, then leap off onto other kids, who were trying to run through the pillars.

I told them to knock it off.

Yes, you read that right. I told other people's children how to behave. Right out there in public. Where anyone could see me. I didn't even say it nicely. I didn't care if their own parents were standing right there. The kids were misbehaving, and they needed to behave. They were putting themselves and other kids in danger, and they needed to stop.

Some kids stopped; some didn't.  No jumping off the slide, I said, rather sternly. One little boy, about seven, climbed to the top of the slide triangle and crouched. No jumping off the slide, I said again. He looked me in the eye. Don't jump, I said to him. 

He jumped. He turned to look at me, grinning.

That's it, I said, pointing at him. You're out. He looked astonished. 

You're out of there, I repeated. Ten minutes, out here, before you can go back in. He started to protest. I started to move to the entrance. He climbed out. Tried to tell me he hadn't done anything. I cut him off. I told you not to jump, and you jumped. It's dangerous, and it's not allowed

So, shoot me. This comes up on my boards all the time. Mothers who get all snippy and outraged when some other person dares to discipline their little darling. How dare they!, these mother's exclaim. If I thought he needed correcting, I would do it. Well, here's a newsflash, lady. Your little darling needed correcting, and you didn't do it. Either you weren't there (and why weren't you?), or you're so convinced your little darling can do no wrong that you failed to notice he was in violation of every posted safety rule. I care not one whit if you think I'm out of line. I care that other kids are being put in danger by your lousy parenting. I care that my child is getting the message that safety rules don't matter, and can be ignored.

No one shot me daggers, even when the kid started to cry. Did I mention that I made him cry? Do I need to mention that I didn't care? When he said it wasn't fair because other kids were jumping, I pointed out that he was the one who jumped after I said not to jump. When he said he didn't mean to jump, I sympathized and acknowledged that must really suck for him, having to bear the consequence anyway. He got over it. I let him back in after five minutes. He didn't jump off the slide again - at least not while I was there.

I ran into a friend of mine later, who told me there had been several injuries on one of the other structures. 

It doesn't bother me that I'm that woman. It bothers me that no one else was. There were at least a dozen parents standing around, chatting, staring absently at the kids, talking on their cell phones. And not one of them said a word to the kids about the way they were behaving. Until I did. Then a couple of other parents sort of snapped to and started paying attention, and telling the kids not to climb over the sides. A couple ran over and got their kids out. Probably afraid I would yell at them, and scar them for life. The poor darlings.

[User Picture]From: marshmelococoa
2007-10-28 02:50 pm (UTC)
I've done it too. I don't think what you did was out of line either. If the parents aren't paying attention to discipline or keep an eye on their own child then by all means anyone else should step in to make the activity safe for everyone. I see at these kinds of things and even at the McD's playplace that parents let their children go and don't pay attention to their kids and it's THEIR kids who are causing problems.

I also make a point to say out loud to my children things like "please watch out for the kids smaller than you, you're bigger and need to make sure they don't get hurt". These are gentle reminders to my own kids but said loud enough that other kids and parents can hear and hopefully it rubs off.
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[User Picture]From: spinthemoon
2007-11-02 04:47 am (UTC)
I do that too! Sometimes, I *pretend* to be talking to my kid, when I'm really saying something for the benefit of another kid. Or their clueless parent.
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[User Picture]From: marshmelococoa
2007-11-04 12:49 pm (UTC)
Definitely. I wish more parents would do it too - or at least just pay attention to their own kids - zeesh.
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[User Picture]From: marshmelococoa
2007-10-28 02:54 pm (UTC)
oh, and the wristbands - rediculous. I really loathe the school carnivals here anyway. Ours was yesterday also and Hannah was gone swimming and the boys were with their dad and I couldn't have cared any less that we didn't go. I didn't even make donations this year which I usually do. I'm just so over the carnival thing. It's disorganized and full of Chuck E Cheese type cheapo prizes [or 2 liters of pop - oh joy that's exactly what we need around here]. If they got bouncy things here, I'd never go. I'd much rather they do the carnival in the spring when it can be held outside also to break up some of the people and sweaty, sugar highed kids. yuck.
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[User Picture]From: causedujour
2007-10-28 03:14 pm (UTC)
Yep...me too.
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[User Picture]From: thecranewife
2007-10-28 04:05 pm (UTC)
I think you're AWESOME! I would have cheered you on for sure.

Not a fan of inflatables.
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From: (Anonymous)
2007-10-28 07:31 pm (UTC)
You did good! Since I work at the school library I have gotten very accustomed to calling kids down! -Jody
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[User Picture]From: jchammonds
2007-10-28 08:18 pm (UTC)
Ugh, the wristband thing = not a good idea! And 4-8?! Crazy! Who would want to spend that much time there?

It's good that you had the sense to ensure the children's safety. I cannot believe that there was no one supervising the activities! There should've been two people, at least, for every bouncy thingie (one might need to go potty). There should've been time limits. There should've been... I could go on and on. I'm a teacher. I work these kinds of events and I am ASTOUNDED that there was no supervision.

Also, as a teacher, I have a very hard time controlling my urge to discipline children in public. It's why I never go to the movies here in our town. ;D
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[User Picture]From: jchammonds
2007-10-28 08:19 pm (UTC)
Other people's children, that is.
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[User Picture]From: spinthemoon
2007-11-02 04:50 am (UTC)
My thing is kids playing on escalators. My mom was working at a store when a 4-year-old girl got her finger ripped off on while playing on an escalator (my mom wasn't near the escalator when it happened, and apparently neither was the girl's mother). I yell at kids on escalators all the time.
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[User Picture]From: aims814
2007-10-29 03:20 pm (UTC)
A couple ran over and got their kids out. Probably afraid I would yell at them, and scar them for life. The poor darlings. <--- LOL! I wish we had a kudos button for our comments. Well, kudos to you anyway. :-)

We had our carnival a couple of weeks ago. Not a big fan of the wristbands or the big bouncy things ourselves. The day they stop having bumper cars will be our last visit. That's the only reason our son goes.

By the way ... I remember when (back in my day) all mothers were allowed to discipline all children and if we disrespected another mom, we got into big trouble by our own mother. Somehow, that all changed.
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[User Picture]From: sitara
2007-10-29 06:10 pm (UTC)
I guess it depends on the neighborhood you live in. Where I live, all the parents know each other and kids don't get away with that kind of stuff around here. We phone each other on a regular basis and all expect our children to respect other parents. Even if we don't know each other, we find someone who does know that parent and we make sure the mom and dad knows what their kid was doing and how we yelled at them, grabbed them by the scruff of their neck and sent their little behinds home to face the consequences.
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[User Picture]From: sitara
2007-10-29 06:07 pm (UTC)
I guess it depends on the neighborhood you live in. Where I live, we all look out for each other's children. I get phone calls from parents telling me about what my child was doing down at some cul-de-sac or some other thing and that they grabbed her by the ear and sent her home and I do the same and other such stuff like that, but I think you get Kudos for being that kind of woman. *applause*
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From: blissonbliss
2007-10-29 07:01 pm (UTC)
Okay the liability of the entire situation is just too bizarre for words. But Go You! I did the same thing at some kid's birthday party. But I wasn't quite as strong as you because some kid ended up getting a bloody nose.

This boy was lifting up another girl's dress as she was jumping in the jumpy thing, and I said, Hey! Don't do that! I didn't know it was his sister he was doing this to, but I don't care, that's irrelevant! Thankfully his mom heard me, and she yelled at him too. I waited for her to give me grief, but she didn't. All's well that ends well.
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From: spritzcourt
2007-10-30 02:31 pm (UTC)
Way to go Jo!!

I must admit that occasionally my mind does drift away when surrounded by many screaming children, though I do always keep a close eye on my own.
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From: misty_bay
2007-10-31 11:14 am (UTC)

I've always been grateful

for parents like you. Your saving me much needed breath and energy. :O) Hey, I miss a lot. Sometimes it's nice to know another mom has my back. It never bothered me.

What bothers me is that me and mine have to put up with boorish behavior from kids because no one can/will say anything.

From the sounds of things, this structure maybe should have had an adult supervising things.

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[User Picture]From: domesticharmony
2007-11-15 02:23 am (UTC)
Okay, so what do you do when it's the ADULT that misbehaves? Trust me, I get it at work all the time!
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