But yesterday, the cage door was open.
I took the wee Wallaces for a post-dinner jaunt to our neighborhood park. My bigger kids (six and four) played nicely while I walked around the playset with the baby.
Then I heard one slightly older boy yell, “That’s stoooopid!”
Which is pretty typical playground behavior, and I generally try to let my kids handle such issues themselves.
A few minutes later I heard, “I’ve already passed all of my swimming lessons. You must be stooopid!”
This, I knew, was directed at my son and it didn’t seem to bother him, but I moved a little closer anyway.
The taunting continued: “Your sister wants to play hide-and-seek. That’s so dumb. That’s a game for babies!” And then, “You can’t go all the way across the monkey bars? You must be stoooopid!”
At this point I looked over at the boy’s mother, who was in hearing distance, but didn’t say anything. A low growl built in my chest and my finger’s curled into claws.
Then it became: “That’s not how you play freeze tag. You’re stooopid! And if you’re mom thinks that’s how you play, then she’s stoooopid too!”
Maybe I’m old fashioned, but when kids disrespect adults they need to be reprimanded. But I also believe you don’t reprimand other people’s children.
So I put a leash on Mother Bear and called my kids to my side (a few yards from the clueless mother) and said (loudly):
“There is a little boy on the playground who is being rude. He is being disrespectful to you and to me. I wanted to point it out to you because that kind of behavior is inappropriate. Wallaces do not call other people stupid. And we never, ever say mean things about other kid’s mommies and daddies. Understood?”
The other mother gave an offended huff and hauled her kids out of the park.
Hooray for everyone else.
I’m not a perfect parent. I do stooooopid things all the time, but nothing bothers me worse than parents who observe a bad behavior and ignore it.
And with that, I’m done ranting for the day.