S.C. asks from Los Angeles, CA on June 23, 2011
Very Curious to Hear Your Insights on This!
This happened last week at a Chik-Fil-A in Walnut/City of Industry, CA.
I met a friend and her 3.5 year old for a playdate. To make this story easy to tell, I'll just give you the kids' names: my 2 kids are Lauren (5) & Garret (3), and my friend's daughter is "M"
When we first arrived, my friend and I went to the counter to order food and the kids went straight to the playroom. About 2 mins. later, M comes running out to us at the counter saying and gesturing that she "got hit on the head". But we weren't sure if someone hit or or she bumped herself. She's verbal, but was not very detailed. It sounded like some boy hit her. But because she didn't quite explain to us what happened, we just thought perhaps someone accidentally bumped in to her.
Later as we're sitting down to eat, my friend mentions to me that she notices some really big boys in the playroom and they don't seem like they belong in there. M came back and complained again about being hurt..but didn't give much details, plus she just started eating her food and so we didn't think much of it again... BTW, I didn't see any big boys in the playroom from my viewpoint. Later, Garret comes out and complains that a boy in a white shirt pushed him. I usually tell my son to use his words and let them know to not do that - then just walk away and stay away from them. Later on, my son comes out a 2nd time and he's crying saying, "the boy in the white shirt hit me in the head". And at first, I tried to brush it off and tell him to maybe let it go because it could just be an accident. But he was really crying hard.
That's when my friend says to go over and see what's going on because it seems that something"s up in the playroom since we've arrived.
As I walk toward the playroom, I see another little boy (about the same age as Garret) on his mommy's lap crying just as hard as Garret. That little boy was wearing a WHITE shirt. My first thought was, "was this between the two of them?" But I know my son to not hit others (he may defend himself if he can't get away), but he doesn't randomly hit kids. So as I walked by that table with the little boy, the mom asked me, "what happened?" I wasn't sure, and didn't know if it was that little boy that's been giving our kids problems (I mean he was wearing white)...but my gut told me to just go straight to the playroom. I responded to the mom, "uhm...i don't know.." and proceeded to the playroom.
When I got in the playroom, I see 2 big boys (about my height - I'm 5 "2" and I think they were 5 feet). They looked like 4th graders or talll 3rd graders. And the ONLY thing that came out of my mouth was, "Uhm..guys...maybe you are a little to old to be in here". Perhaps I was wrong to say that, I will accept that if you moms think so. Meanwhile, my son is pointing to one of the big boys (who is also wearing White) and crying that he hit him. But before I can say anything else, the two boys' mom (guardian?) walked in and pointed her finger right at my face and said, "NO THEY ARE NOT (referring to being too old to be in the playroom). And looked at her boys and said, "you guys are fine, just keep playing". And she pointed again at my face and said, "THEY DID NOT DO ANYTHING TO YOUR SON. DON'T GO THERE! (and again)...DON'T GO THERE!" She was overly angry to be honest.
I didn't say a word. I was just in shock. She then proceeded to blame my son that she was watching her kids the whole time and that my son was somehow in their way (something to that affect).
<interjecting my personal opinion here: regardless if my son did anything wrong, who is the older children here? Who should know better here? (doesn't mean that I wouldn't discipline Garret). But you don't make a 3-year-old's action an excuse for your kids' misbehavior>.
Anyhow, then the lady left. But then 10 seconds later, she walked back in. She walked in just as I was telling my daughter (so happened to be good timing!), "Lauren, Mommy knows you're always honest with me. You can tell mommy the truth". That's when Lauren said to me (and in front of the lady - and I can tell the lady stopped to hear what my daughter had to say),
"yeah, mommy...those boys, they keep on hitting the little kids!". Lauren wasted no time with her response. She didn't even have to think about it.
The lady didn't say a word (you can't deny an honest response from a 5 year old). I didn't even look at that lady. But simply said to my daughter (in front of the lady), "okay, honey...I know. Let's go home". And left. I walked out thinking, TIME will reveal everything. All in due time when these boys are older.
Sorry for such a long account of the incident. But my question really is...why was this lady sooo angry and defensive before I even had a chance to really say anything? I didn't walk in there to yell at her boys. I just wanted to remind them to remember that these kids are little and that they have to be extra vigilant and careful if they are to play in here. Because for all I know they may not have purposefullly hit our kids. They may just be too big and carelessly bumping into them. I really thought that!
All I can think of though is the way this woman talks and reacts, I wouldn't be too surprise if her kids are learning all these angry bouts from her. Now that I think about it, feels like she was bullying me to be quite honest.
The irony in all this is that her friend so happened to be the woman with the little crying boy wearing the the white shirt. I think that woman was a bit embarrassed at how she yelled at me. And I wonder if the big boys have been hitting that little boy.
BTW, I've been to this Chik-Fil-A dozens of time. And I mean on a bi-weekly basis. It's the closest to my house. Never met this woman or seen her kids (then again it's Summer, so they're off). Never had an incident like this before with anyone, especially at Chik-Fil-A.
So What Happened?™
Hello. I need to take a breath. I'm grateful for all the responses. But I'm even more thankful for those moms who may felt that I may have been in the wrong and to tell me KINDLY. I'm surprised at the angry tones of others. I don't know why there has to be so much anger. I'm not a yeller and confrontational. But it's not because I'm afraid. I don't find it productive. Plus, I had my children in front of me and don't see how that helps them to be better people. That's why I didn't yell back at the lady. I was in shock that this lady is pointing her finger in my face and yelling at me with her boys watching. To me that's damaging for them and her parental role.
I know that I could've gone to management. But I'll explain that further below.
Whenever I go there, we always try to find a seat that's right in front of the window of the playroom. However, it was all taken. We grabbed a table closest to the playroom. This playroom is small, and there are only so much space to be standing in there with other parents. So I'm not the only parent not standing in the playroom. This is my local Chik-Fil-A. We go there all the time. Never had that problem. But I will chalk it up to experience as one mom said. I don't usually see children older than 6 because they're all at school when we go.
There is a height limit. 4 feet- ish (under 5). I hope that answers a lot. But I already did admit that I was probably wrong to say that the boys were too old and mentioned that I accept it if you moms think so. But like I said, after that I couldn't say another word to her boys...like "be extra careful around the little ones etc.", as I'd mentioned in my post because I had no chance with her finger in my face. She wasted no time.
Maybe it's a cultural thing for me, but the way I was raised and how I raise my kids is that the older child carries a heavier responsibility. Not that the younger one gets away with murder. But my daughter knows her "choices" with my son. And one of them is not hitting because she's older and knows better.
To the mom that tells me that perhaps my son could've bitten the other child. I think it's inappropriate to judge that I don't know my own children. I will say this. I know my kids, what they're capable and incapable of doing. That leads me to explain why I didn't go check on my son the first time.
Here's the reason, and this is my parenting style: I have been teaching my kids to not tattle about every little thing and to give grace to others because we can't go through life complaining about every little incident (i.e., he bumped me, his feet is touching my leg, he "kicked me" (coming down the slide behind me) etc. I'm a teacher also, so I can't have a dozen kids coming to me about everything. I always tell my kids (and students), "did you use your words?" If the person doesn't listen, you need to walk away, or move on. Basically, I tell my kids that you can't change people, you can only change your reaction to things. That's why I chose not to yell back at that lady. I wanted them to also learn to work it out on their own first. Without me jumping in at every first chance. They also know the difference between an accident and on purpose. That's why the first incident, i wanted to make sure that it was an accident. But when my son came crying at the 2nd incident, I went to check it out. When M came to us the both time, she was very vague about the incident - she didn't cry and seemed unaffected. And she just seemed to brush it off and started eating. Again, my friend and I feel that if kids can brush it off then that's better for them in the long run with dealing with difficult people.
Again, this is the first incident for us as far as confrontations with another parent, and we've been to many play areas in the 5 years I've been a mom. Mostly, when there's an incident with other children, most moms are gracious and we have our kids work it out, apologize, and teach our kids etc. Normally, if it was an incident with a little kid, I know I would have told them to play nicely. I guess because it was 2 big boys, that came out of my mouth. But I appreciate the first mom's advice about how some children look older than they are and it could hurt their feelings. I will keep that in mind. thank you. But I have to say that if it was an older kid and they are sweet, I would definitely not care if they were playing in the room. If there was a child younger than Garret who's hitting him, I would tell my son that you need to give grace to the little ones because they don't know better. Just make sure to play around them, not near them etc. I wouldn't even try to make it an issue with the parents of that child. However, having said that, I would want to know if my little one is hurtful to an older child. So I guess, i would want to know if it was my child. But I have a lot more grace for other people's children than my own.
The reason why I didn't go to management:
I appreciate that suggestion too. I guess I need to just accept that maybe it's the best solution for future. But it's really because I try not to react with "vengeance" and "get people in trouble" or go "to the authorities". Sometimes, i feel, people over react instead of being calm with their approach.
M.A. answers from Charleston on June 23, 2011
Sorry...stopped reading at "my friend and I went to the counter to order food and the kids went straight to the playroom" ???!!!
4 moms found this helpful
M.A. answers from Orlando on June 23, 2011
At the Chik-Fil-A that we go to, there is a line on the door that you have to be under this height to play in the play room. If anyone is over that height I would tell management.
1 mom found this helpful
L.P. answers from Pittsburgh on June 23, 2011
I was going to type a response, but to save time and energy, I TOTALLY agree with Riley.
R.J. answers from Seattle on June 23, 2011
I'm a little sleepy, so I may be missing something here, but if I'm reading correctly:
Two 3 year olds and a 5 year old are in a play area unsupervised for both while you're ordering and eating... with some supervised 8 or 9 year olds. What I can't wrap my head around is why are the toddlers and a kindergardener unsupervised?
Which (to get to your Q) is the most likely reason why the mother who was in the playroom was upset. Instead of just minding her own older children who need FAR less supervision than little ones, she now has (essentially) 3 completely unsupervised toddlers dumped on her as well. Not only that but 2 of them (at least) in tears. MORE THAN ONCE. If I had to send a crying/injured child to their parents not once, but twice, and the parent still didn't come in... and when they did they immediately placed blame on my kid? (Which, you inadvertently did the moment you attacked/guilted them by saying they were too old to be playing. You could have been VERY nice about saying they weren't allowed/ were wrong to be there, but that sort of thing is devastating for a child to hear. "You don't belong." Especially from an adult). I'd be ticked. In either case. Much less both. Minding other people's children and then have one of those other people come in and hurt my child's feelings.
I'm not the type who would say anything about unsupervised children, UNLESS it was my child being hurt by another child (then I'd try and track down the mom/dad with their kid in tow, or take them to the manager... and I've done both, both with unsupervised toddlers and unsupervised older kids and 'quasi' supervised -aka the parents are there but paying no attention to their children whatsoever; reading, in conversation, etc) OR unless the parent who wasn't there to see what happened started saying something.
Now, the older kids may very well have purposefully or accidentally hurt the little ones... or it could be not their fault at all (like if a child is climbing up a tube slide, and they older kid slammed into one... it's not the fault of the child going down, but the child going up). Or a younger child could have grabbed onto an older child's clothing and gotten knocked down. Or. Or. Or. There's dozens of possible accident & 'fault' scenarios.
An 8 or 9yo isn't an adult, they're not even babysitter age. It's not their job to watch younger children. As soon as your 5yo turns 8 or 9, you'll realize how YOUNG that still is. Are they old enough to be more careful of little kids than other little kids are? Yup. They won't be hitting and biting and pulling hair and grabbing clothes like toddlers do. But they also can't be expected to know that a little kid is going the wrong way up a slide they're going down. Or that if they run by them that the toddler may grab their shirt and get spun around or drug/knocked down, or that a toddler doesn't know to not stand so close to feet climbing up a platform (aka kicked in the face completely on accident). These are all things that happen VERY commonly in play areas and parks. And as the parent of a younger child, you explain to your kid in tears that it wasn't the other child's fault. When you're NOT there, you just hear about the 'mean' kid.
In all fairness, I think that's EXACTLY what you'd do. Hon, you don't (walk behind the swings, grab someone's clothes, go up the slide, etc.) ... because you said your first instinct was that what had happened was an accident. Until the other mother got angry with you. Either for not being there supervising your children, or for saying her kids don't belong in a public/private play area.
Bottom line, you don't know what happened. The white t-shirt kid could have been slamming your child's head into the wall calling him a baby... or your kid could have been biting their kid and gotten pushed away... or the other mother could have been telling your kid over and over not to go up the slide that other children were coming down. There's too many possibilities. And only a toddler's point of view as to what happened.
19 moms found this helpful
S.H. answers from St. Louis on June 23, 2011
honest opinion: it's over. Let it be. Next time, be sure to be with your child the entire time. That is the only way to fully-protect your child.
This is not a case of who's right vs. wrong. This is not a case of which parent did the better job of handling the situation.
This is 100% .....you were not in the playroom & "something" happened. You missed it. It's over. We're talking about total strangers. The End.
8 moms found this helpful
B.C. answers from Norfolk on June 23, 2011
Most play rooms have an age/height restriction, and many have a policy which states a parent must be present in the play room with the kids when they are playing.
First - your kids should sit with you and eat first (before their hands get grubby in the play room).
Second - when they go to play, you and your friend should be in the play room with them.
And third - if there are kids who are clearly over the posted height/age restrictions - DO NOT take it up with those kids (or their parents) - take it to management.
I've done this on several occasions and it works well.
I've seen management clear the whole room - state the rules, and only allow those who belong (with their parents) back into the playroom.
Management usually takes these things seriously because kids who are too big/heavy to use the equipment can break it and it's a liability issue for them if kids get hurt (because rules were not being adhered to).
7 moms found this helpful
H.F. answers from Pocatello on June 23, 2011
What can you say, some people are bullies and jerks and they raise more bullies and jerks to cause problems for the rest of us, sigh... One thing though, I have a child who will be entering 4th grade and she still likes to play in play structures, she is very sweet to younger children though. I would be upset if someone told her she was too old to be playing in a play structure, it would hurt her feelings! I have neices and nephews that are really huge for their ages (not fat, but tall and stocky) who are often treated like they are too big to do whatever childish thing they happen to be doing; like a 2 year old who looks 4 and is still in diapers. Or a 5 year old that looks like he's at least 8 who crys for his blankie when he gets hurt. So don't be too quick to judge whether a child is too big or too old for something, IF those boys had been well-mannered their age wouldn't have been an issue.
5 moms found this helpful
M.. answers from St. Louis on June 23, 2011
Im not trying to be rude, but personally, your kids are too young to be playing ANYWHERE unattended. Your friends child, and your child gave you several warnings that something was going on, and if I reading right, you ignored it 3 times.
Who knows what really happened, because you didnt see.
Why not wait until you are all done eating next time and go in and play when you can watch them. Then there would be no guessing, and they would be less likely to get bullied with you being there.
4 moms found this helpful
C.O. answers from Washington DC on June 23, 2011
Most places now have an "age limit" for the play rooms.....
I don't understand why you left your kids alone in a play room - I've NEVER done that...when I went for play dates - one mother would order the food and the other would go with the kids....I've NEVER said JUST GO - especially to a 3 year old! Let this be a lesson for you in the future....you don't let your child go alone to a play room.
I would've pulled that woman's finger from my face - you don't point your finger in my face - NOT ACCEPTABLE - and told her to get F$$$ out - IF my child had been in her son's way or IF my YOUNG child had been rude - then MAYBE YOU SHOULD'VE GOTTEN UP OFF YOUR A$$ and come found me...
I would've also gotten the store manager and asked them to remove the older children. I would also ask that the manager post a sign for age limits on the play room....here most play rooms have been removed because they had too many problems like this....our McDonalds installed a table with 4 computers/games...yeah - like that was an improvement!
Our Chik-Fil-A has a sign in that play room - no shoes and no child over the age of 5 allowed. PERIOD.
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R.R. answers from Los Angeles on June 23, 2011
I'm sorry, but honestly, with children as young as yours and your friend's, one of you adults should have been with them at ALL times. God forbid, what if there had been a child molester posing as a parent in the playroom, who'd done something disgusting to one of them while you were ordering food? Or one of the children had sustained a serious injury? It happens all the time.
Your 5 year old more than likely was telling the truth, but from her perspective, so you truly don't know everything that transpired. As for the irate mom, unless there's a maximum age limit posted and you could prove they're older to the manager, I imagine she was highly offended that you implied her boys were too old to be there. And as to why she was so defensive, albeit inappropriately...she's a mama.
4 moms found this helpful
M.P. answers from Pittsburgh on June 23, 2011
Couple thoughts here:
The first time my child came up to me and said that someone was hitting them I would have headed straight to that room to watch over things. Honestly-kids really should not be unsupervised in that room. Its ok to get your food but really you should be with them in there the rest of the time-esp with young children. And while in there if the older boys were hurting the smaller kids I would have absolutely asked them 1x nicely to stop it and tehn yelled at them if they did it again. One MORE time and I would have reported them to management. I would have NOT told them that they were too old to be in there.
This lady was WAY out of line. If it had happened to me I would have immediately asked for management to intervene. Only because she sounds a little psycho and it was a situation that could have escalated.
As far as the older kids playing...I do realize that there is an "age limit" on these things but I do let my kids (9 & 7) play on them anyhow. They are still kids after all. Once they hit 12-13 then I would not let them-and I would be worried if they still wanted to climb on the chic filet structure LOL One thing to keep in mind-there are MANY more playgrounds/structures that advise that children under 3 NOT use them but of course we all know it is OK if supervised and its just a CYA thing. I am sure that you would not want another mother pointing out that your child should not be on that equipment.
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