Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What's in the bag?

Or, to Game apologists, 'little girl Game'.

I am indeed an Auntie. Several times over. Biologically speaking. And also to children I am not actually strictly-speaking related to.
But I have never managed to master niece or nephew Game.
Here's a cautionary tale as to why this has to change.

I was at Mass the other day. Minding my own business.
Then all of a sudden this kid appears before me from nowhere and grabs my bag.

She couldn't have been more than 4. Tops 5. Although she appeared quite big for her age. I had seen her several times before at Mass with her mother.
She was of the hyperactive variety to put it mildly.
But far from being annoying, she was cute and adorable.
However, I wonder if the priest ever saw it this way?
I mean, when there is a 4-year old standing in front of the altar blowing raspberries at you at the moment of The Consecration, 'cute and adorable' may not be the adjectives you would pick to describe her.

This child's mother was more of the passive type.
She was either too tired or had just resigned herself to accept that her kid was never going to sit still at any social function :-)

So the kid, who is now in possession of my handbag now asks me to give her my necklace.

Remember, I have no idea how to game a 4-year old girl. And frankly, these are unchartered waters for me. Can't recall ever being in this situation before. Being in a near-hostage situation at Mass had never before been one of my life experiences so far. Perhaps I was long overdue for this one :-)

In any case, I am hopeless at asserting myself to anyone under three foot tall.
In other words, they game me.

In a surreal reality which feels desperately akin to being held up at gunpoint at a gas station, I hand over my necklace and rationalise that at least I am contributing to a little girl's developing femininity :-)
I note wistfully that my necklace really suits her. Arguably more than it does me!
I tell her this.
The cheeky little bugger actually agrees :-)
Mother is still nowhere to be found.

The girl declares that she really likes my necklace.
I am genuinely pleased about that.
Um, is this a clear case of Stockholm syndrome?
I am already thinking she may keep the necklace if she keeps up this flattery :-)

People sitting nearby have begun to notice my plight and are starting to laugh.
The little girl is now saying she likes me. Quite loudly.
She tells me she likes my handbag.
I am flattered once again.
She opens it and starts peering inside.

That's when I start to panic.

You see, in every lady's handbag, there are certain items of a personal nature. All you ladies know what I mean. I dare say some of you gentlemen too.

That 'just in case' item of feminine hygiene which is definitely not for public viewing by all and sundry...

I made a move to grab the bag from the kid, but she moved away chuckling to herself as she removed item after item, and my heart started to do somersaults in anticipation of major embarrassment.
Mum is still not showing up.

The part of the congregation closest to me have now turned their full attention to me and this kid, and are now not bothering to join in the prayerful chants anymore...
This kid was proving to be better entertainment than 'The Gloria' or the 'Nicene Creed'.
That was not my assessment of the scenario. But then again, I was very much a part of said 'entertainment' by this stage, so I guess my opinion on this matter was now officially null and void.

She finds my wallet and phone. She doesn't find these interesting in the least.
Just my luck.

I try to make funny faces at her to distract her from my handbag. But somehow it doesn't work.
She ain't interested.
At least not in my face.
She promptly turns her attention back to my bag while I start to feel faint and jittery.
Any minute now...

When she finds her item of choice, she holds it up for all to see and asks me 'what is this'? again quite loudly ... before my stupefied self wakes up and grabs it from her before I have to indulge in a lecture on the 'birds and the bees' in the middle of Mass no less (!) to a 4 year old who is just way too curious for my liking :-)

By this time, everyone is falling about laughing and the priest is starting to look our way. This child managed to provide Mass entertainment (pardon the pun!) at a time I least expected or desired.
Luckily, I notice that the nearest people to me were women, so my embarrassment was mitigated somewhat.

The kid got bored after that and went off to harrass the priest, wearing my (now empty) handbag and necklace and jiggling my house keys noisily as she ran up the central aisle. (I had no idea where my wallet or phone were at this point).

I see the priest's visibly forlorn expression of heartsink as little Bopeep approaches him...I can see he's 'been here' before. Several times. With this one kid.
But I am not about to sympathise.
Rather him than me, I think to myself uncharitably :-)
(Yes, yes, mea culpa and all that :-)
It's definitely every man for himself at Mass sometimes.

Mum eventually showed up with little girl in tow to hand me back my handbag and keys after Mass. But little girl did not want to hand back the necklace. Mum tried everything to no avail.

To put Mum out of her misery, I bent down to little girl and said, 'it's my belated Easter present to you'.
The smile I got was worth all the embarrassment I had just suffered at her hands.

She repeated 'I like you' and skipped off happily with Mum.
Somehow I get the feeling that's not the last I've seen of these two.

My options now include:
1. Get a child-proof lock on my handbag.
2. Give up wearing necklaces to Mass.
3. Work on my 'niece Game'.
4. Resume attendance at leadership course so I can stand up to the little people.
5. Try out a few disguises.
6. Pay 'protection money' to the local kindergarten gangs.
7. Find a new church.
8. Find a new religion.

That kid has her 'girl game' going on alright :-)
And she picked the right 'victim' in me, because I am still at the stage of life where I think other people's kids are 'cute'.

If I am honest I would say that I was somewhat pleased to have been taken to task in this way by this kid.

For a start, I was a bit taken aback by her brazen approach and ease of relating to a relative stranger. I was initially somewhat alarmed to see a child with this stark lack of 'stranger danger'. But then again, she may have already been through that stage. (I am not an expert on child development, but perhaps the 'stranger danger' thing happens at age 2-3 perhaps? Parents, please enlighten me :-)
And, thinking about it, perhaps I actually wasn't a stranger to the child afterall. I mentioned I had seen her several times at Mass before. Perhaps she was used to seeing me around too.

I do believe in conspiracy theories. It would make sense to suppose that I was a 'marked woman'. That she had 'premediated' her swoop on me and my belongings.
Because otherwise, it would seem far too fanciful that I was just randomly pounced upon by a 4 year old semi-terrorist. In a Catholic church, no less.
Is nowhere sacred anymore, I ask you?

Secondly, it amazed me how casually she related to me, stranger or not.
This may not be apparent to the English speakers amongst us, but many European languages make a distinction between an informal 'you' and a polite, formal 'You'.
French is no exception.
Children address their parents in the informal way. But any adult stranger is 'You'.
(In a way that amuses me immensely, I note that in french Our Lady is addressed as 'You' and God as 'you'!!! - does God take offence at this, I wonder? :-)

This kid addressed me in the informal way. Which actually had the effect of making me relax when relating to her. But I could not help but notice the disapproving gasps from our audience - sticklers for standing on ceremony, they were :-)
Or maybe at age 4, this child was too young to know the difference?
(Somehow I think not - at age 4, I too was french-speaking. And I knew the difference already. As I note other (french-speaking) kids today also do).

Being quite tall, I always felt that somehow, kids would (or should!) be wary of me. When I was a child, I was less scared of shorter strangers than the tall.
But no... I find the opposite. Kids always relate to me like I am their age :-)
This appeals to my own inner child, because I do love to retreat into the world of childhood every now and again.
But I also worry that this perception of me by kids in general means that if I become a parent, I won't be taken seriously by my own children either :-(
I would just be another playmate to them.
That can't be good, right?

On a related note, I note that the Mansophere mindset is that women are just (mostly) overgrown children anyway.
This view is also held by many a Catholic saint of old (inclding St. Augustine?) and certainly many ancient philosophers like Schopenhauer.
On the one hand I detect a 'neg'. And my 'inner woman' is outraged of course.
On the other, if I force myself to indulge in my habitual game of 'see it another way', I take it as a compliment:
Was it not our Lord himself who said  "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

(And I can see male eyes rolling with contempt in response to this particular hamster spin :-)

Thirdly, although I initially found it surprising, I was pleased that Mum was relaxed enough to leave her child and me to interact. Or, perhaps in the manner of my reaction when the child left me in search of the priest, she was just grateful for someone else to take on their share of the proverbial 'pain' :-)
I am sure (I hope!) she was at least following her daughter with her eyes, and knew where she was at all times. I couldn't see her (I had no idea which corner of the church the kid had popped out from) but I hope she could see me.
I am not sure I would have her confidence that any stranger, male or female, was 'safe' enough to leave my child with, even for 5 minutes, even in the middle of  a crowded church.
But maybe I shall feel differently when I am in her shoes. And with a child like hers who is clearly never going to be a wallflower :-)

The encounter with the kid also got me thinking about relationships in general.
I was fine with her taking off with my bag for almost an hour.
Seriously, I didn't care.

My only issue was, 'Oh My God, what will she do with the contents of my bag that should not be made public viewing?'

I touched on privacy and intimacy in the post 'In to me see'.
Things are great with people we meet, like, interact with, relate to, until we remember there may be something 'in the bag' we wouldn't like them to see.
Then we try to get the bag away from them.

We all have some sort of baggage, some light, others heavy.
Not all of our baggage can be declared at 'Customs'. Some are for our own eyes only.
The trick is to know what, how, when and who to share our 'undeclarables' with.

How to negotiate this delicate exercise without hurting the feelings of the other person?
Admittedly, they are not 4 years old.

But inside every adult is a 4 year old, no?
With a propensity to be hurt in a way that might not be obvious to us.


Anonymous said...

This could turn into another "Bellita Should Have Been a Nun, After All" comment, so I'll keep the religion-related part short and just ask whether you've read The Privilege of Being a Woman by Alice von Hildebrand. It expands on some of the ideas here.

Being more general now . . . I feel my usual sense of dissonance when any celebration of children (which is not limited to the Bible) is juxtaposed with the behavior of some real-life children. I don't mind children who laugh and play in church, even when Mass is being celebrated, but I think I would draw the line if they started grabbing strangers' personal possessions. This one seems to embody the archetype of a spoiled, entitled "Daddy's Little Princess" that the Manosphere despises (although it's interesting that the only disciplinarian here seems to be her mother!). Mixed up with her natural innocence is a more cunning knowledge of how to have her way with adults. There's a difference between an "over-grown child" who is like this girl and an "over-grown child" who can be considerate of others.

But now I'm obviously missing your point. ;) We would have taken very different things away from the same experience, which is why I love getting your perspective.

I also worry that this perception of me by kids in general means that if I become a parent, I won't be taken seriously by my own children either :-(

One of my friends has a two year old son (and another about to be born any minute now) and she has said that all children eventually stop taking their parents seriously--especially children who know they are loved. Before she became a mother, she used to wonder at "bad" parents who couldn't get the same results out of their children that she, a mere baby-sitter, could. After she had her own children, she realized that any stranger can get better results out of children simply because the children feel more uncertain and unsafe with them.

This may not be very reassuring, however. Hahahaha!


Spacetraveller said...

Hahaha Bellita,

And here I was thinking that the Manosphere was the only 'unsafe' place for a woman.
When 4 year olds are 'staking out' whole cathedrals. Right in the middle of Mass...
I knew our world was rapidly going to the dogs, but even cynical old me did not expect this!
To be fair though, Bellita, I probably 'encouraged' her a bit. I could have scowled at her the first time she grabbed my bag and that would have been the end of that.
But she was a very cute kid, and I thought, hey, let's indulge her a bit...
I fell for her charms and the rest as they say is history :-)
Like I said, this kid has her 'little girl Game' solid.

I ask myself: Is it within the limits of normality to actually feel a little, well, jealous of this kid?
When I was her age, the very thought of going on the rampage in the middle of Mass could have earned me the hiding of my life :-)

Your second paragraph is very elucidating for me. Precisely why I need to be able to 'game' my kids one day :-)
I need to start learning like now, with 'niece or nephew Game'.

Alternatively, I guess it's not too late to head back to the nunnery.
So in reply to the first sentence of your comment, I might say, 'Right behind ya, sister!'

Caelaeno said...

I'm from a large family, so I have a lot of nieces and nephews...I'm afraid to say that I treat the ones that can't be reasoned with rather like cats. (Though it's worked pretty well for me so far.)

Spacetraveller said...

@ Caelaeno,

"I'm afraid to say that I treat the ones that can't be reasoned with rather like cats."

What does this mean?

@ Bellita,

I am starting to feel a certain dissatisfaction with myself after my last comment to you re the nunnery.
I feel I shouldn't threaten to darken the doors of the convent any time I encounter anything which might represent a tough challenge in the SMP (eg. the thought of a scary 4 year old - my theoretically future one or a real and present 'somebody else's).
I should stick it out and fight on...
I should stop using the convent as my back-up plan, 'just in case'.
I'd hate for God to think he was my 'back up' or 'second best' spouse if I do end up becoming a nun in these circumstances LOL. He should be Top spot from Day 1, or the whole nun thing ain't happening at all...
You feeling the same way?
Just curious...

Anonymous said...

To be fair though, Bellita, I probably 'encouraged' her a bit. I could have scowled at her the first time she grabbed my bag and that would have been the end of that. But she was a very cute kid, and I thought, hey, let's indulge her a bit...

Oh, I have no doubt that you were a co-conspirator! ;)

I feel I shouldn't threaten to darken the doors of the convent any time I encounter anything which might represent a tough challenge in the SMP

I think Catholic girls have been joking about the convent as a back up plan for centuries, so it's a tradition! ;) We're just part of the generation that kept doing it long past their early twenties. Hahahaha!

Now please take the following with a grain of salt, as I'm not a theologian or spiritual director . . . I don't think it's wrong to see God--or to be more specific, the convent--as a back up plan in this situation. It's not as if you're actively sinning and saying, "Well, at least I can go to Confession and wipe it all clean." What you are doing is praying and trying to discern His greater plan for you. And the fact that you are calling the convent your back up plan means that you do believe He has something else in store for you, even if you don't know all the details of it yet.

He should be Top spot from Day 1, or the whole nun thing ain't happening at all...

I agree that God should be top spot no matter what, of course, but there's nothing wrong with the back up plan turning out to be the best plan after all. Christianity in particular is all about the back up plan, and we can all say felix culpa about something sinful in our past that God used to bring us closer to Him.

By the way, I've just looked up the Hollywood actress Monica Potter. After her marriage broke up, she said in an interview that she wanted to be a nun after her youngest son turned eighteen. It was more of a reaction to a failed marriage than a true vocation she had discerned--and I can say that because seven years after her divorce, she married again. (Let's just hope that her first marriage was properly annulled and that she is still in communion with the Catholic Church!)

The point I want to make by this is that it's a good thing for Catholic women to respond to disappointment in our lives by wanting to be holier than we've been. That may not be the path for us after all, but it's a beautiful emotional response that shows we're still open to God's will in our lives.


Spacetraveller said...

Wow Bellita,

Forget nun, I think you would have made a great priest! A wonderful Confessor, I might add.
My parish priest needs some lessons from you LOL...

But, haveing trawled the internet for reviews on 'The privilege of being a woman' I can see Alice von Hildebrandt's point of view that a woman does not need to be powerful in a 'masculine' way to be 'effective' at all. So can I retract my earlier statement about wanting you to be priest...
Stay a woman, Bellita.
Capricious or what, me!
(In any case I am reminded of an old woman who once said to me when I was about 20, 'Whatever you do, young lady, always stay young'.
I remember thinking for a long time 'what a silly thing to say - it's not exactly like I have a choice to stop time'...until I realised many years later she meant psychologically/spiritually/mentally young. Duh!)

"And the fact that you are calling the convent your back up plan means that you do believe He has something else in store for you,..."

I ADORE this re-frame! You, and I notice Caelaeno also have this knack for 'framing' in a way that I find very difficult to re-enact.
So, to summarise, having God (i.e. bride of Christ option) as my Plan B means I believe in fact that there IS a plan A.
You've made my day Trésor.

About the Monica Potter story, I do in fact know someone who did just that. She became a kind of 'lay nun' after her children were grown.

I also heard of a couple who both went into religious life after their kids reached adulthood. The funny thing with this couple is that one of their sons became a priest! And that was actually the inspiration for them to go into religious life themselves...

Re the kid, it just tweaked that I have been rather shallow in a way that if someone else had pointed out, I would have denied it on the spot without thinking about it.
It just struck me that the only reason I tolerated her 'bad behaviour' is simply because she was 'cute'. I did exactly what women sometimes accuse men of doing which is falling prey to and tolerating bad behaviour from beautiful women. (Seal, anyone?)
In a moment of stark self-realisation I wonder if I would have given her the time of day if I had seen her as an 'ugly or unappealing' kid.

Whoa...and we blame men for being 'visual'?
Come to think of it, that's not fair, eh?
Bugger, I hate to be scoring points for 'the other side'...but I think my own actions have entrapped me into it.

Anonymous said...

It just struck me that the only reason I tolerated her 'bad behaviour' is simply because she was 'cute'. I did exactly what women sometimes accuse men of doing which is falling prey to and tolerating bad behaviour from beautiful women.

On a related note . . . It was a similar realization that made me understand the effect a woman's looks have on men. In the same way a man can admire and react positively toward an attractive woman without wanting to leave his significant other for her, a woman can admire and react positively toward an adorable child without loving her own children any less.

In a moment of stark self-realisation I wonder if I would have given her the time of day if I had seen her as an 'ugly or unappealing' kid.

You know . . . I was an ugly and unappealing kid. ;) I think this is why I'm less easygoing toward the really cute ones. Hahahaha!


Spacetraveller said...


We have to talk...
Take a seat, a comfy one...

I chose my words carefully in my last comment (unusually for me :-)

I said "If I had seen her as an ugly or unappealing kid".
Not, "if she had been an ugly or unappealing kid".

The kid was certainly unappealing, with certainly ugly behaviour in many ways as you correctly pointed out in your first comment on this post. If I am really really honest, I wouldn't want my kids running around at Mass terrorising the congregation, no matter how cute I might think they are.

The issue is, I did not see her as ugly or unappealing.

I can almost guarantee without knowing the intricate details of your own childhood, that anyone who mattered to you or to whom you mattered would never have seen you in any other way than a gorgeous kid, inside and out even when you were at your naughtiest :-)
No child is ugly or appealing unless they are made to feel that way by someone else, usually another child or children, or adults. With the important caveat that when these people do this, it usually involves a hidden agenda, eg. needing someone else to feel bad in order for them to feel better about themselves. Sad but true.
This kid was lucky in many ways. I was in a good mood that day at Mass, I was in quite a playful mood already before she came and turned my Mass time upside down. Nothing was going to ruffle me too much that day. Another day, another set of circumstances or simply a different mindset going into Mass and I could have seen her in a VERY different light: same kid, same behaviour, same everything and yet, different possible outcome.
It's all in the perception.
Life is really one big illusion, I have come to conclude.
This 'illusion' certainly explains why I see some men fawn over a so-called 'beautiful woman' when in fact no-one else but him can see her 'beauty' and similarly, what you and I may think is a beautiful woman is completely ignored by men. Perception, perception, perception, to play on the old adage 'location, location, location'.
This is why I am fascinated by your ability to 'frame'.

I can definitely 'see things differently', in the sense that I can see another point of view, but it is only a passive exercise, and not something as concrete as a 'frame'.
If only I could also get the whole 'frame' thing nailed...

OK, chat over. You can go outside and play now, Kid Bellita :-)

"I think this is why I'm less easygoing toward the really cute ones."
Clearly, I need to take a leaf out of your book if I am to ever get some peace at future Masses, cute kid or not.
No more Ms Nice Girl from now on.

Gotta stand up to these...

I'll never make it, will I...
Oh God.
I'm done for.



Caelaeno said...

@ST: I don't try to coax them to me, and I don't chase them when they leave. I'm also not a real "kid person"--I like them well enough, and I'd like some of my own one day, but I've never had the desire to be, say, a nanny or preschool teacher.

I think my ability to frame might be a result of my relationship wih my mother...she's really, really good at things like that. Maybe? I hadn't ever really thought about it before, I'm afraid...

Spacetraveller said...

@ Caelaeno,

"I don't try to coax them to me, and I don't chase them when they leave."

THIS is effective niece and nephew Game.
I need to learn how to do this, finally.
I have been babysitting since I was a teenager.
Every single one of those kids walked all over me. Shame on me, I allowed them to :-)
So my experiences with Princess at Mass was no exception in many ways. It was just taken up a notch in the sense that she was a strange child and not a child I already knew well.

I need to grow a pair :-)

amy said...

"I also worry that this perception of me by kids in general means that if I become a parent, I won't be taken seriously by my own children either "

I used to worry about this before I had children. Your own children will be different, you will be different, and you will be working on a relationship of love and response beginning from birth. By responding to their needs- consistently- and continuing to respond to their need for correction, they will learn the value of your words and your discipline. It is hard, but... natural. Do not fear.

Spacetraveller said...

Welcome to The Sanctuary Amy!

And thanks for your encouragement :-) I shall try not to worry.

@ Bellita,

News just in about Dolores Hart...are you familiar with her? She was a Hollywood actress, and quite suddenly became a nun aged 24after playing St. Clare in a film about St. Francis of Assisi. At the time, she was engaged to be married.
Talk about God dropping a spanner in the works and disrupting Plan A with a very unexpected Plan B!
Now as Mother Superior of her convent, she is doing the rounds back in Hollywood because there is a short film/documentary about her life. Apparently she still remembers the on-screen kiss she had with Elvis Presley!
She sounds like a really fun person to have around...
Imagine 'gossip time' at the convent after Vespers...
"Oy, Dolores, tell us again about that juicy smacker Elvis the Pelvis planted on you in 1957..."


Suddenly I wanna be in that convent :-)
At least as a fly on the wall...

Anonymous said...

Perception, perception, perception, to play on the old adage 'location, location, location'.
This is why I am fascinated by your ability to 'frame'.

And so much of perception depends on location! I think I'll be doing a riff off your thoughts about framing soon.

News just in about Dolores Hart...are you familiar with her?

Yes, I know about Mother Dolores. :) The Catholic blogs I still read covered her appearance at the Oscars.

Spacetraveller said...

@ Bellita,

"I think I'll be doing a riff off your thoughts about framing soon."
Looking forward to it!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Spacetraveller, I must say you have the patience of a saint to deal nicely with a little monster like that.

Parents need to learn how to control their children or leave them a home. I'm an introvert, and I would have been beyond pissed if some little 4 year old "precious princess" whom I did not know made me part of her public spectacle like that.

In church of all places! And going into my stuff, taking my things! Oh, hell no. I would not have been indulgent, I would have given her a serious frown and stern look, "give me my bag now, and no, you can't have my necklace!"

What would have been the result? People might have thought "what a meanie!" I don't care; children need to learn boundaries. I'm old school, and I would not have tolerated this ridiculous child's nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I'm PVW who just posted...

Spacetraveller said...

@ PVW,

You echo Bellita's sentiments on this kid.
Deep down, I definitely agree with you two.
I would like to think that I would be a good disciplinarian when I am myself a parent one day. But I guess I would always remain more 'lenient' when it comes to other people's kids.
For sure, I don't envisage seeing my kid behaving like that at Mass. I only noticed her at previous Masses because she is always up at the altar distracting the priest. So I guess she is already known for that behaviour. Her Mum doesn't seem to care very much about this...
The thing is, though, she took me by surprise when she literally swooped in on me like that. I didn't see her coming so I really had no time to react 'normally'. Plus, as a result, she had put me on the spot somewhat. There was definitely an element of not appearing mean, too, I must admit. I could feel all eyes on me.
But also, to me, she appeared sweet and all innocent, so I was a bit 'charmed' by her. AND...there was an element of 'awww, how nice, this kid likes me...'
I was bizarrely flattered that some random kid found me interesting enough to come chat to me and explore my handbag.
I know, I know...

And like I said to Bell, my threshold for irritation/annoyance was pretty high that day. It's not always so. As such, my only concern with my handbag was her risk of exposing my 'undeclarables' to the whole world.
I think all this is to do with the fact that despite my babysitting experiences, I am really no expert on children (I am a last born, so I never really had a good grounding on looking after a child for more than a few hours at a time).
Maybe this kid 'smelled' this in me? Perhaps to her, I looked like the ideal 'prey' LOL. I read somewhere that kids are really good at identifying people who they can get away with 'bad behaviour' with. I guess it was written all over my forehead that I was game for her antics...
I guess I also feel mums have a hard enough time, so I never want to make it harder for them by not playing up to whatever the kid wants from me. Usually all I have to do is smile or coo or make funny faces at a baby/toddler though. Rare that I have to hand over my worldly goods, so to speak :-)
Maybe all this will change when I am myself a parent?
What d'you think? Were you more tolerant of kids before you had kids? (I assume you are a mother?)

Anonymous said...

Hi Spacetraveler, PVW here, I didn't want to appear to be the horrible curmedgeon!

I definitely was more lenient, because it is easy for women without children to be enamored of children and babies, not realizing sometimes the implication of what it means to having to do the day-to-day disciplining.

Thus, it was easy to be the "white night enabler" auntie as compared to the alpha mom disciplinarian; that is how you game a toddler, by being alpha!

But putting on the "mommy hat," there are some other issues under the surface which are troubling. I'm not sure her mom is thinking about this, but if she isn't, she should. And others who are aware should encourage appropriate behavior, ie., by not enabling.

This is a child who has no problems violating the boundaries of others, which can expose her to others who might want to violate hers.

Now, she was safe with you, but others who were observing might assess and think that she is extraverted and easily enthralled by strangers.

All a stranger has to do is show her something interesting to intrigue her, and she follows. This is very dangerous behavior for a young child.

Anonymous said...

What would worry me more, is a mother who isn't in close physical proximity to her child at all times, or knows the child is with someone the mother trusts.

I'm not real good with other people's kids misbehaving, in a church or in a movie theater, or in a restaurant. No one wants to go out for an evening only to have it ruined by a spoiled brat. But, this isn't a new phenomenon, spoiled children have been around since humanity first came down out of the trees.

What IS new, however, is the realization that there are more than a few people out there, who like to hurt kids. Maybe in a church, this mother felt she was safe in assuming her child was ok, but I'm not convinced. Any place is unsafe, with the possible exception of the child being locked in their own room, in their own home. I understand that's unacceptable, but part of parenting is not just accepting that there is risk, but doing everything they can to mitigate it. Most kids around the age of four to five become very much more outgoing and less clingy to mama and papa. While pedophiles have always existed, we're only recently come to realize that they're a lot more common than we thought they were. Thus, kids who are learning their first social interactions with adults not related to them, are far more at risk.

What if you had been a pedophile? This would have been a golden opportunity for such people, never mind bothering the priest during Mass. I once told a guy in Denver, Colorado to stay away from my grandson, because the guy was initiating contact with facile grace, and my grandson was five, and very impressionable. I won't go into detail, but suffice to say that the police were called, AFTER I showed my Colt to the individual. I'll shoot your ass in a heartbeat, to protect me and mine.

I applaud your patience with the child, and in an ideal world, this is how we would all treat children we meet. But, I don't live anywhere near Ideal, World and I wonder about a mother who lets her child run rampant, ANYWHERE. I'm with Anonymous, above. I realize the mother might be bone tired running after this child, and so on, but if you do not feel comfortable pointing out these issues, talk to your priest and ask HIM to talk to the mother.

Just because I'm paranoid about my grandkids does NOT mean there are not pedophiles out there who would jump at a chance to hurt the ones I love.

The Navy Corpsman

Spacetraveller said...

@ PVW,

Your comment is full of stuff I never thought of before!
Great insight, thanks.

Especially this:
"And others who are aware should encourage appropriate behavior, ie., by not enabling."

This is important for someone like me. I may have thought I was 'helping', but from what you say, I can see now that I was far from a help to this kid, who might now believe that any adult is 'safe' which of course as NC points out below, is sadly not the case.

So I have to be careful about that, yes.

@ NC,

You are definitely the first male to comment on this post, LOL.

Hm, I wonder why the men are shying away from this topic?

I find it interesting that you are the first to mention paedophiles outright...although I see that PVW hinted at it...
I find it interesting because I think this fits in with my observation that men are more likely to anticipate and prepare for physical danger to their loved ones than women, at least in a direct way...

Anonymous said...

Spacetraveler @ PVW,

Your comment is full of stuff I never thought of before!
Great insight, thanks.

My reply:

You're welcome, glad to share insights and be of help!

Spacetraveller said...

@ PVW,

Now the real tragedy here is of course that this whole episode demonstrates to me that I am accepting validation from all the wrong people...not least from feral 4 year olds!
My sentiment 'Awww this kid likes me!' is perhaps testament to that.
We women really are validation junkies, aren't we?
Or am I just an extreme example of this?
(Rhetorical question!)

Anonymous said...

Spacetraveller said...

"Hm, I wonder why the men are shying away from this topic?"

Simple. Adult males today are viewed with total suspicion... I won't even speak to a child without another adult present. I've read about a male teacher who was fired for hugging a small boy because he fell and skinned his knee. I've read of amateur photographers taking pictures in a park, where the police were called and demanded that he erase his film camera of all the flower photos he snapped.

Modern men know that they're automatically considered evil, in this world. Better to avoid other people's children entirely. Better to avoid other people entirely, because the absolute worst fear a man has, is to be falsely accused of a horrific crime such as pedophilia or rape.

Read this:


Now apply that to nearly every human interaction a man can have. We are guilty without even being accused.

And yes, men generally think about the dangers a lot, as regards their own family. We also think about how others might perceive us to be dangers, and adjust accordingly.

The Navy Corpsman

Spacetraveller said...

@ Bell,

"Yes, I know about Mother Dolores. :)"

I should have known you would already be familiar with her!

It would be infra dig to suggest that you be designated the authority on all things catholic round here...
'Cos in fact, you already are!

@ NC,

Hm, I chewed on the article above for a few days...

I wasn't sure what bothered me so much about the article. Now I think I get it.

That woman was not wrong to give her (very clear) picture of the plight of women. Women need to be very careful about their own safety. I think that's what our 'b*tch shield' is for, and rightly so.
And the article starts off nicely enough, when she declares that she believes her audience to be good guys à la base. At this point, I would imagine that any man reading the article would be willing to hear more.

But then she slips into what many would now recognise as 'feministic' language, and I'm afraid, with my 'masculine goggles' on, I can see how she manages to lose the interest of her audience, even the good guys who genuinely wanted to hear what she had to say. I can still see what she is trying to say, as a woman, but I can't help but understand how you, as a man would be turned off by this article.

It's all in the delivery.
Good lesson for women, this.
I think the article should be entitled 'How not to talk to a man'.

I think it's a real shame what happens in the course of this article, because she has a very good message to give. But that message is lost in translation because she turns off the audience rather fast. Result: you send me this article to explain why men would clam up on a topic regarding (women and) children.

It's a crying shame, yes.
Because it was an opportunity missed :-(