Yesterday, I went out to a coffee shop with a gal from my mom’s group to a small kid concert they had going on. Fun, but parking was bad in downtown Silver Spring but I did it (parallel parking on the street no less!) and I didn’t even get lost trying to find the coffee shop or my car after. Go me!
Anyway, we got there a little late, sat down and Butterfly immediately started playing with the wooden toy trains on the floor. They were big, with several wheels missing. She didn’t care. She was just happy to play with a new toy! There were probably about 15 other mothers there with their kids, all gabbing happily while a lady with a guitar tried to play nice music over them. I felt a little bad for the guitar lady and wondered if it would just have been better to invite moms out to gab and kids play at the coffee shop.
Butterfly had 2 wooden trains, and went to go get a 3rd to do whatever with. She had given me the trains and I had put them on the table because I didn’t want to hold them. Enter Snatch Boy. I had noticed Snatch Boy fighting with another boy (assuming it’s his brother) when we had come in, and mentally told myself to watch him. He ran wild with his mom just talking to her friends. He must have been 3 or 4 years old. He had been wandering around snatching toys from all the other kids, only to discard them in 2 seconds to play with something else someone else had. So as Butterfly walked 6 or 7 steps away to get another train, he pounced on the 2 wooden trains I had put on the table.
Or tried to pounce. I stopped his hand, told him “No.” Firmly but not mean and let go at that. He then tried to go around me, lean over me, and take the trains. This time it was a firmer NO with a look straight in his eyes. At this point, his mother comes up all mother bear-ish.
“Who is playing with those trains?”
“My daughter.” I pointed out Butterfly who was coming back with the other train. A pause.
“Is she playing with them or what?”
“She is playing with them. She has just gone to get the 3rd car.”
“She can’t play with every toy here you know.”
I looked around significantly at the other 100 toys and books on the floor with no one playing with them and said, “Okay. But for now, she is playing with these toys.” And I turned away from her and put the trains in my lap. She was still standing over me with Snatch Boy hanging on her body when Butterfly came back. I made a point to show Butterfly how to hook all the trains together and she commenced pulling all the trains around my chair. Snatch Boy’s Mom stalked off in a huff, and I noticed a lot of talking and looking over at me for the next 15 minutes.
Eventually, Snatch Boy was back to snatching other kids toys, but did he touch Butterfly’s? Nope. But I did feel bad about it. I hate that I brought the mama bear out in another mother. I hate that I felt like I had to protect my daughter’s personal space in a public forum. Would she have cared if the other trains were gone when she got back? Possibly but it would have been no big deal since there were tons of other toys around. And more than likely Snatch Boy would have discarded it a few minutes later and she could have played with it again. Do I wonder if I did the right thing, even days later. I worry that I have stepped over some invisible line by saying no to another person’s child. A stranger’s child. What would you have done?
And do I wish I would have told the mother that I was the one playing with the trains? Oh yeah.
PS- Butterfly was a stellar example of toddler sharing later when Snatch Boy had gone. She still had the trains, and another little boy kept trying to take them (but not so aggressively). I told her that he would like her to share with him and when she is ready, she can share. About 5 minutes later, she decided she was done and dumped all the trains in his lap. He was happy as a clam and she was ready to move on to something else. I love it when she makes the right decision!