I know people generally mean well, I do. But sometimes, when it comes to our kids, even those with the best of intentions inadvertently do things that can make parents cringe. Most of them involve someone – many times a stranger – giving your kid something without a) asking you first or b) asking you while in earshot of said kid. Here are a few of my “favorites.”
- Giving my kid a toy. I know this seems like a super nice gesture. It is. But I wish you’d keep it to yourself. Free toys mean just one thing to me – something small to get lost in my car/for me to step on at the bottom of the stairs at midnight/add to the 2,379 teeny tiny toys in my house that litter nearly every room in my house. Thanks, but no thanks.
- Unless we’re leaving a birthday party, I gotta say “no” on the balloons. Their main purpose seems to be to obstruct my view in the car on the way home. That is, if they don’t slip immediately off the kid’s wrist and float into the sky, causing a torrent of tears.
- True story; I was walking with my youngest when someone handed him a sucker (“If it’s OK with your mom,” he said AS he handed to him.) Couple of things here: I don’t know you, so just because the parent is there, it’s still a stranger giving candy to a child. You also committed the cardinal sin of giving things to kids – making the transaction in front of the kid before OK-ing it with the parent. Not cool, stranger. I don’t mind saying “no” to my kid, but I would really rather not endure the tortuous screams of a preschooler during my ride home.
- Soda. See entry on candy. And balloons. And toy. While I do allow candy, I’d rather the kids eat the sugar, rather than drink it. Plus, have you seen my kids? Do you think they need caffeine? Caveat – If I’ve entrusted you with my kid and they say, yeah, of course, it’s OK if I drink soda and you believe them, I can’t be mad at that. You’re doing me a favor. Plus, the older one is just so darn believable!
But if you absolutely MUST offer the child something, take it upon yourself to learn the universal mom symbol for “can your kid have this?” When the kid’s not looking, hold up said item quickly (then put it back down before the kid turns around), make eye contact with the mom, and give quick head nod/shrug and/or raised eyebrow combo. If the mom nods, it’s cool to offer. Otherwise, thanks but no thanks, and no hard feelings.
Even better, there’s one thing that every parent I know would happily allow you to give their kid when you see them in the grocery store/library/wherever with their parents. Say “hi,” to him. Shake his hand. Introduce yourself. Let him do the same. Because, unlike a cup of liquid sugar, a chance to be respectful is always welcome.
Photography by: Dream Photography Studio