Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mean Girls at the Indoor Play Space


When Mr. R was about fourteen months old we took him to an indoor play space in a gentrifying neighborhood of Chicago.  It was a great place, with a costume area, grocery section, a fleet of Little Tikes cars, a train table, a crawlers' area for babies and a real, functioning kitchen/dining space for meals and snacks. 

The kicker, however, the area that I longed to take advantage of, was the living room lounge where mothers of older kids could chat, read magazines, and sip coffee. There the VIP Moms could bask in their glory, as we mothers of little kids performed the gruntwork of routine child supervision and eyed them enviously.  

Three girls, who though barely five years old, had the Queen Bee thing down to a science, were playing dress up in the costume area.  Their bossy, confident and bitchy banter poisoned the cheerful energy of the space. I wanted to keep out of their way.  I hate to use the b-word in describing little girls, but I'm a woman, a dancer and a dance teacher -- to me vicious females are as obvious as an unwashed taxi driver. 

Two of the mean girls hopped into two Little Tikes cars, red plastic ones with yellow roofs, and began driving around.  Little Joan Collins, wearing a pink boa and lucite heels, bumped into her Little Linda Evans friend.  They got into a bit of a jam, and were unable to move.  Little Joan began punching her horn and shouting, "Get out of my way!  My daughter has to get to school! I said, get out of my way!!!!"

Whoa, chica, I thought. I glanced into the lounge, knowing the model for this behavior was sitting right there. Mom was oblivious, chit-chatting away. Although it was midwinter in a West Town play space, Girlfriend had transported herself to a rooftop deck in L.A. where she was sipping artisinal cocktails with a friend. 

A bit later, the threesome took up residence in the play house.  Mr. R wandered in and tried to cook. "He cannot play in here," said The queen Queen Bee.

"You have to share," I said. "This is for everyone.  And he's just a little boy."

"We are playing here and this is ours.  He cannot play here."

"My son can play wherever he wants," I said through clenched teeth. "Don't you ever tell my son where he can or cannot play."  

The little mean girl tossed her hair(!) at me and walked away.  A few minutes later she shoved another toddler off a bench and received no more than a stern look from the unseated party's mother. I kept my mouth shut that time, for fear I'd leave the place handcuffed and in a squad car.  

Obviously, even though I failed to put little so-and-so in her place, I had no problem saying something to her. If my daughter were this much of a mean girl, I would pray to God that people would say something to her.  

What would you have done?  Where do you stand on disciplining other people's children? Are you okay with others disciplining your children? To keep talking, click on over to my Parent Society post.  And, by the way, I'm not sure if it's my lack of make-up or my desperately in-need-of-a-cut-and-color-hair, but it's cold over in society! While you're there, please, please show a blogger some love by commenting!  

5 comments:

  1. I know these girls well. Your taxi driver line is brilliant. What a treat when your posts show up in my Inbox. Thanks for keepin me entertained while my youngest is making me lose my mind. xo

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  2. I look at it like this: It's not always discipline, as much as it is conversation... it just happens to be conversation with a small, bratty person:) If a kid is speaking to me or my kid, I have every right speak right back to them in a way that is appropriate... if an adult were to say the same thing, we would respond in a similar way. Adult woman at public place: "You can't come in here..." Me: "Oh really? Why is that? This is a public place, I can come and go as I please." I think the challenge for non-parent is finding the right tone and words to get the point across and create a learning moment (and not piss off the parent). Obviously, the kid needs some sort of lesson... even if it isn't from mom or dad:(

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  3. I am never afraid to be honest with children about my expectations. If we are in a group space, group rules. Queen Bee or not, everyone gets to ride the damn pony. I take the "it takes a village" approach and if the village is busy drinking lattes, I'll step in. With you.

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  4. Oh wow. I can't believe that little girl, and most of all, her mother. You definitely did the right thing by saying something to the girl.

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