Thursday, January 1, 2009

On the Safety of Other People's Kids

So we had some friends over for New Year's Eve. Among them, Angela and Patrick with their 5-year-old daughter, Maggie (not their real names).

We love Angela, Patrick, and Maggie. We were thrilled that they came.

Midway through the evening, Angela decided to storm out because several things (which I didn't and still don't understand) had upset her. It wasn't until today that I found out that *I* had done one of the things that had upset her.

Shortly after they arrived, I was pulling miniature pizzas from a 500-degree oven when Maggie came into the kitchen and came very close to the open oven to see what I was doing.

"Maggie, sweetheart- could you please step back? The oven is very hot and I don't want you to get hurt."

Maggie leaned in closer and I'd much rather risk hurting her feelings than risk her getting burned, so I made my voice more stern and louder.

"Maggie, step back please."

Maggie continued to lean in and I got a little more frightened of the prospect of a burned 5-year-old. I stopped what I was doing, leaned closer to Maggie and looked directly in her eyes to make sure I had her attention as I spoke to her in a calm, clear, loud voice.

"Maggie, take three steps backwards *right now*. It isn't safe to stand where you are."

Finally, another adult noticed what was happening and gently pulled her back away from the oven.

Satisfied that Maggie was safe, I finished what I was doing and didn't think about it again.

Liz tells me much later that this upset Angela because she doesn't like it when someone says "no" to Maggie or does something contrary to what Maggie wants.

Here's the thing: If someone needed to hurt my son's feelings in order to keep him physically safe, I'd be furious if they *failed* to hurt his feelings.

I'm confused and concerned about this...and not entirely sure why. Any thoughts?


Brandi Tuttle said...

Geesh. You were kind about it and protected a child. I say, your house your rules (even that crazy rule of no baby hands in the oven). And now you know when you take Simon to their house to watch him carefully since she won't say no.

I've seen other parents act like this and it really befuddles me. I'm not the greatest at telling other children what to do, but in terms of safety, I don't have a problem.

She's got the problem and made it yours...which is sad.

L Johnson said...

As a parent of another 5-year-old, let me say thank you for being so considerate of the health of someone else's kids.