Last week I went to a local parent and toddler group with my friend and her seven month old twins. The group is held in a big gym in the leisure centre near both our houses, and they have a session in the afternoon (most groups seem to be in the morning when our babies have their naps) so it’s perfect. Up until now I’ve often gone to each other’s houses but now Toby is mobile and just wants to explore this gives him an hour or so of unfettered crawling time (or occasionally sitting still for two minutes to play with a toy), and it gives us chance to have a chat while keeping an eye on the babies.
Now, I know this is a parent and ‘toddler’ group but there are quite a few babies there. As well as our three there was another little boy the same age as Toby, a girl about the same age as the twins and then a tiny baby and her older brother, and two girls who are about two and a half. The bigger kids were doing lots of running around which of course was absolutely fine – that’s why they are there, and mostly they kept out of the babies’ way.
However, there was one of the little girls who, like I said, must have been about two and a half. Whenever one of the babies, Toby included crawled over to where she was playing she would shout ‘no!’ at them and literally push them away. After a couple of times I picked Toby up and pointed him in the opposite direction whenever I noticed him heading her way. Her mum was sat with us at this point and didn’t say anything to her daughter. About half way through the group the kids all get a snack (if they want one) and the mums can have a cup of tea and a biscuit. While the others were having their snack my friend and I stayed playing with our babies as they weren’t having one. When the little girl had finished with her snack her she came over to where we were while her mum staying chatting on the other side of the room. The little girl then proceeded to grab any toy that the babies were playing with. When Toby went to touch something she pushed him out of the way shouting ‘no’ again, even though this time it wasn’t even something she was playing with herself. She even grabbed a couple of plastic toys and threw them on top of one of the twins as she was trying to keep them away from Toby.
Now, we both told her to be careful and tried to explain that she had to share things with the babies because they were too little to know any better, not that she took much notice! At no point during any of this did her mum intervene or even seem to have noticed what her daughter was up to. I don’t know if I’m just being naive, or maybe over-protective of Toby, but if it had been the other way around I would definitely have spoken to my child, and apologised to the other parents. I know when we’re at Baby Sensory and Toby is the biggest baby there I’m always watching him to make sure he isn’t going to hurt any of the smaller babies, even accidentally. To be honest I was quite shocked at this little girl’s behaviour and even more shocked that her mum did nothing about it!
What is the etiquette in these situations though? Should we have said something to the mum? Although we did speak to the girl I felt awkward essentially telling off someone else’s child – I know I do it all the time as a teacher but that’s when it’s my job, this was an entirely different situation. Has something like this ever happened to you? I’d be really interested to know what you did…