There’s a Reason I Only Have Two

Given that it’s still so hot, we pretty much make it to a pool every day. We’re lucky to have lots of free city pools, and when I’m by myself I almost always end up taking the girls to one of the shallower wading pools. I can sit and cool off, and it’s shallow enough that the girls can fling themselves around and can still stand up on their own. I don’t usually take them to regular pools by myself because there’s a lot of “Mama! Watch THIS!” and sometimes I’m not fast enough to get there to stop one or both of the girls from doing themselves bodily harm. Adele has a slightly chipped front tooth which resulted from this very situation, so I usually just stick to the little pools. In any case, though, we were meeting another adult yesterday for a swim, so we went to a big pool. Extra adult eyes FTW!

At the big pool, there were a few other parents with kids; one was a mom with four children. Four children is fine! Four children is lovely! Four children is too many for one person to watch easily IN A POOL.

We showed up with our little inflatable monkey inner tube, which Adele likes to use even though she’s pretty comfortable swimming on her own or being held by an adult in the water. We brought it in the pool with us at first, but then just left it on the side as she didn’t feel like using it at that moment. An older boy of about 8, the oldest of the four aforementioned kids, came along an grabbed it to play with it. I have NO problem with this; whenever we bring toys to the pool, other people wind up playing with them, and it’s totally fine. If we’re leaving, I ask for them back and it’s no big deal. Sharing! It’s a good thing!

So this boy was being pretty rough with the monkey and I asked him to please be careful with it, since it’s really for babies and not really meant for older kids. His mom was within earshot, but said nothing; I wasn’t being rude, just matter-of-fact. Side note: I REALLY don’t like disciplining other people’s kids. Like, EVER.

He calmed down a little, but then I saw him sitting on it again and submerging it a few minutes later; Adele saw him too and asked for me to get it back, so I did. (Politely.) May I also make note of the fact that he’s said nothing to me during all of this? Not an “ok, I’ll be careful” or anything along those lines. No big deal, but worth noting.

She used it for a few minutes and was finished with it, so I put it back on the side of the pool and the boy’s little sister (maybe 2 years old?) grabbed it. Again, TOTALLY FINE until he came back up, grabbed it from her and started jumping in to the pool while sitting on it. Again, mom is within earshot; she can see he grabbed it away from his sister (who is now wailing) and has done nothing. I go up, politely let him know that his sister was using it, that it’s REALLY FOR LITTLE BABIES, and I put it under our swim bag, up on the deck away from the pool. We go back to swimming.

Then the little sister sees it, takes it from under our bag and puts it on. Again, FINE. I’m really just trying to keep it from her brother at this point. He runs up to grab it from her, yanks it off her body and POPS IT. Adele sees and starts shrieking because hello, she is TWO and it’s HER TOY.

The mom (finally) comes over and says “Oh, did they pop your toy?” I say yes, because they did, but I’m also holding Adele and trying to calm her down because she’s really upset. And the mom says “Did they apologize to you?”

OKAY. Here is where I need input. Had it been me, I would have had the child apologize to Adele. And probably to me, since I had already tried to keep the toy from him SEVERAL times without input from his mother. The mother, however, did not do this. I said that they had not apologized (really, it was just the boy who needed to) and she… did not do anything. She did not reprimand him other than to say “that really wasn’t nice” and people? SHE did not apologize to me or to Adele.

This is something, as a parent, that I do. If my child is behaving in a manner that justifies apology, I apologize FOR them. I then handle it with my child on my own, after having my child ALSO apologize. And, had my child broken someone else’s toy, I would certainly have offered to pay for it. (That’s really not at all the issue, though… it’s more the principle of the thing in this situation.)

I was really irritated with the whole thing, and we left not long after.

So my question is… am I wrong to be irritated? Should I just write it off? It takes a lot to get me hot under the collar, but for some reason I’m still annoyed when I think about this.


16 Comments on “There’s a Reason I Only Have Two”

  1. -R- says:

    My kid would have had to apologize, AND I would have given him a time out. And my kid’s not even 3. I think you have a right to be irritated.

  2. Diane says:

    I would be furious. I think I’m exactly like you in this regard. At the very least, the mom should have stepped in at the point one of her children went to retrieve one of your belongings that you specifically PUT AWAY. *I* would have been reminding my children to ask before playing with another child’s stuff when it was just sitting on the side of the pool. I’m all irate on your behalf, seriously. How annoying!

  3. Sahara says:

    You’re not nuts. That’s bad behavior any way you look at it. And even though the mom didn’t do what should have been done, I feel sorry for her too. I have an obnoxious kid, despite my best efforts at civilizing him. My knee-jerk reaction is always to apologize (and try to get him to, of course), even if I’m not sure it’s necessary. What a bummer of a way to have spent your day at the pool.

  4. Maggie says:

    What is wrong with people?! I’d be a LOT more than irritated. I hate bringing toys to the wading pool for precisely this reason, because there’s always some parent who isn’t watching and doesn’t care AND IT MAKES ME CRAZY.

  5. MauraLessa says:

    I’d be annoyed, too. I don’t have kids, but my mom wouldn’t let us take someone else’s toy without asking, and we would have had to apologize if we damaged it. She would have apologized, too, profusely. My mom has four kids, so I think it has less to do with the number of children and more to do than the manners they are (not) taught.

  6. Sarah Lena says:

    Oh, pool etiquette. There is no Emily Post for this crap, for sure.

    We do the same thing at public pools. And it never fails that I’m suddenly responsible for everyone else’s kids (and it’s always toddlers! who may or may not be able to swim!) because the other parents don’t get in the pool. Me and four or five toddlers.

    I know you hate disciplining other kids, but it totally takes a village (IMHO). And if the parent has an issue with it (and they have before), I welcome them to get in and take their child in hand.

    I would’ve asked for an apology. I don’t know that I would’ve involved Adele (other than having her witness it), but definitely would’ve asked for an apology. And probably? Would’ve asked for some compensation.

    (I’m not an entirely nice person.)

  7. ptkate says:

    I’m with you all the way on this. I have three kids, and yes, it is very challenging to watch them all at a pool…but I DO IT. I feel like there really is no excuse for allowing bad behavior no matter how many kids you have (I learned that from my Gran, who has 11 kids (!) ). You handled it really appropriately and I would have been annoyed, too. I do know some people who feel like their kids should use their manners “organically”, i.e. not be prompted to do it so it comes from a genuine place, but man, I just can’t get on board with that if the kids are acting obnoxious and rude. And that doesn’t even explain why she didn’t apologize. Very weird. I would have been shoving money in your hand (that my son would need to earn to pay me back), apologizing profusely and scooting him out of the pool so fast he wouldn’t know what happened. I hope Adele is okay with it now…popped pool toys can be so heartbreaking!

  8. Dr. Maureen says:

    The mom was totally out of line. The kid should definitely have been made to apologize, and I think I might have gone to his mom and told on them after they took the toy out of my bag. I don’t want to discipline other kids either, and putting the toy away was a good tactic, but you were thwarted and at some point you have to tell on the kid I think. I hate it when this sort of thing happens to me, though, because it’s very awkward.

  9. Jennie says:

    I know you Natalie, so I know you’re one of the kindest, most awesome people I have EVER met, so, trust me, you have EVERY right to be irritated. That’s just … OMG. What is wrong with people? Her children broke your toy and she didn’t offer to pay for it OR apologize OR make her child apologize?


  10. Kristina says:

    I would be INFURIATED. Not only should she have stopped her son from playing with her toy the first 100 times you asked him to stop, but she should have had her kids apologize, she should have apologized AND offered to pay for it.

    I think you’re totally, absolutely right here.

  11. GGPeel says:

    You are totally justified and I don’t even have children! I think the 8 year old should have asked in the first place to use the toy AND should be taught to not be mean to his sister. Plus apologize/learn about consequences.

    A guy friend of mine had a strict rule growing up, I plan on implementing this into my child rearing: If it’s not yours, don’t touch it.
    ***This really spans a lot of topics and rings true at all ages.
    If it’s not your toy, don’t touch it.
    If it’s not your juice/cookie, don’t touch it.
    If it’s not your CD collection, don’t touch it.
    If it’s not your hand/bottom/hair, don’t touch it. (this might help as they get older and have girlfriends/boyfriends…maybe)

    I think that poolside mom could use this rule in their family. Permission is okay of course, sharing is a great thing to learn!

  12. ebj123 says:

    Yeah, that sucks. I’d be super pissed at pretty much every part of this. This is why I never let my kids bring toys anywhere in public, because someone else always has to go and do something crappy and I can’t handle it.

  13. Jen says:

    Not only would I have asked for an apology (CANNOT BELIEVE ONE WAS NOT READILY GIVEN!), I would have asked that she give me ten bucks (or whatever it cost) to replace it. “Borrowing” it without asking is one thing. BREAKING IT? Oh man. I would have lost it. Kudos to you for keeping your cool.

  14. I just can’t understand why she asked if her son had apologized and then… did nothing with that information. I have a hitter/pusher (who is 2, so I cut him some slack in terms of praying It’s A Stage, but little slack in terms of letting him out among other children unattended) and I do ask that sometimes if I missed what happened. And if my *2* year old did not, in fact, apologize, I make him do so and/or go sit with me in a time out until he is ready to apologize. If he’s 8 and still not apologizing we may never leave the house.

  15. Jessica says:

    I would have been stunned when she didn’t apologize or make her kid apologize. Ugh, how is that 8-year-old ever going to learn?

  16. K says:

    I had the exact opposite happen yesterday.

    Ezra (my son) and I were at the pool/playgrond and another three year old threw a handful of sand at Ezra’s back and some of it landed in his hair. The thrower instantly said, “No THROWING SAND!” to himself and I wasn’t really bothered all that much because a) Ezra often throws sand (boo!) and b) it didn’t land in his eyes and c) clearly this character had heard he wasn’t supposed to do it and d) he and Ezra were having fun and he seemed nice.

    But as I was brushing Ezra’s hair to get the grit out, the mom came over and chastised her son and asked him to apologize. I felt bad because she must have seen me brushing the sand out, but I really wasn’t all that put-out.

    (Okay! So longest comment ever from a new reader? Lordy.)

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