Reprimanding Others’ Kids


This weekend we invited some of Emma Vance’s friends over — sans parents — for a little pizza-and-movie night. Our little social butterfly couldn’t have been any happier. IN FACT, she was so overly thrilled all night that she asked to go to bed once everyone went home! I’m sure her dreams were filled with happy memories of the night — but mine weren’t.

You see, E.V. is two, meaning that manners goes as far as “please,” “thank you” and listening to adults. She has no concept of what’s rude or inappropriate yet, but most of the time we’re around older children or grown ups who understand her behavior. However, last night we had a little girl over who was old enough to voice her opinions but not old enough to make allowances for a toddler. We settled down to watch “Frozen” (of course), and all the kids were extremely excited about the movie choice, including Emma Vance. (Most of the kids hadn’t seen the movie yet, so they were ravenous to get the show on the road!) Ryan and I encourage E.V. to sing and dance and recite lines, so that’s the norm around here. And this particular viewing was no exception. However, one little girl didn’t find E.V.’s participation entertaining at all. At first I empathized with her; she wanted to watch the movie! But as the night wore on, she started being really mean to E.V. and unappreciative of our hosting. She “shhh’d” and swatted and told her to sit down…and I had to hold my tongue. The worst part? E.V. loves this particular friend. Thankfully her little toddler-Tinker-fairy-happy-go-lucky self didn’t seem to comprehend that the little girl was being horrible to her. She just kept loving on that little girl like they were best friends!

Truthfully, our movie night was supposed to be a fun activity for everyone, but how could I enjoy myself while watching helplessly as my daughter was being put down? It was a difficult situation without the child’s parents there. I asked E.V. to sit down a few times to help the situation, but I couldn’t bring myself to reprimand another person’s kid, especially when it basically meant telling that child they’re rude and disrespectful. It was frustrating to say the least. At one point I left the room to feed Cricket and texted a wise friend of mine, who gave great advice — “Tell her the rule at your house is that everyone gets to sing and dance along to the movie.” #genius #nexttime

Eventually the girl’s older sister said something to her that made her be nicer, but the girl’s actions upset me. (Even worse, we’re not really close enough to her parents to have told them about the situation, so I feel like it’s still unresolved.) Seriously, what should I have done? What should I have said? The last thing I wanted to do was ruin everyone’s night by reprimanding one of the kids, but I lucked out that E.V. was oblivious. In the future though, we’re going to have to set some expectations with all the kids…including Emma Vance. Although I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable enough to chastise another person’s child, what I am taking away from last night is this: Emma Vance will never be allowed to act like that, ever. Not only will it spare another adult some anxiety, but it will spare another innocent child’s feelings as well. Movie night taught me the importance of teaching your children respect, manners and, most of all, kindness. (And, as a side note, if E.V. is ever at your house, dear reader, acting a fool, please please please reprimand her. Permission granted.)

When the children were all gone and E.V. was in bed, Ryan and I recapped the night’s awkwardness. His final conclusion? The cold’ll never bother her anyway. ;)

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