Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Rant - In No Uncertain Terms

Fasten your seat belts; it’s going to be a bumpy ride. I don’t like to think of myself as a mom that has too many rules, but being one of the parents on our new block of kids younger than the average seems to be proving me wrong. Even Mike wonders why kids don’t seem to play here as much as other houses and I’m sure it has to do with the fact that Finn sleeps in the afternoon and like a good (and smart) mother bear, I am willing to do anything I can to preserve that. We also don’t have the same caliber of toys that other kids have – motorized scooters and cars, trampolines and enormous play sets. Some of those things will come over time, but while they’re absent, the kids migrate elsewhere.

This weekend, some parents that we’ve only met a few times were out there really playing with a group of the smaller kids. I kept checking on them every few minutes, thrilled to see them in a serious soccer game or wagon races with the parents doing the pulling. The kids were so happy – faces beaming in the sunshine. My mom, aunt and mother-in-law were over, so probably about seven minutes elapsed before I did my usual check up on them and just as my eyes searched my regular viewing points, my doorbell rang. It was the dad that had been pulling the wagon.

Now the rant begins – it’s not going to be pretty. This guy tells me that his wife took my kids to the park. With a more than confused expression I asked for clarification. “Which park? They’re 4 and 6! They should have let me know!” He said, “I know!” And “She piled all three of them (my girls and her daughter) into the bike carrier and headed out a few minutes ago.”

At this moment, I am very unhappy with my kids. They know that they are supposed to play in front of our house only, unless they let me know where they want to go. And the park? At about eight blocks away, going there without speaking to me first is an unimaginable offense. I grab my keys and drive over.

My minutes in the car were spent growing somewhat furious with the mother that took them. Who takes someone’s children anywhere without first talking to the other mom? Who piles three kids in a carrier contraption made for one? Again, who takes someone’s four and six year olds ANYWHERE without first talking to the mom?

So I get to the park and they are not there. I wait. They do not arrive. My anger at this mother and my kids for not even checking with me grows as I drive back to my neighbors and ask if I got the park wrong. He is totally irritated that I have interrupted his phone call and becomes even more agitated when I ask if he can call his wife and ask where she is. Let me just remind you – I barely know them. He calls and speaks to his wife in a language that I don’t understand. I’m sure he tells her that I am a big, crazy loser looking for my kids. Whatever. I want my kids NOW. He tells me she’s been riding around and will go to the park now, so I drive back.

And I wait again. For nearly twenty minutes, I pace in front of my car like some crazed pervert stalking the gazillions of kids there, searching out familiar faces in the sea of sun-kissed small people. They don’t come.

I, who almost never cries, am almost unable to hold it together at this point. I can literally feel my blood pressure soaring, my head pounding and I am fighting tears back like never before. I am beyond worried, so angry at my kids for not coming home and seething at the other mother. It has been nearly an hour. So I drive back home to get this dad to help me find my kids.

And a block from home, finally heading toward the park is this woman, struggling to pull at least 150 pounds behind her in the carrier. I am blind with fury now and cut another car off to get in front of them. They guy swears at me. The mom looks shocked.

I hop out and tell my kids to get in my car. I must have looked insane at that moment, because they didn’t put up a bit of a fight. They obeyed instantly. I think I spouted off about being terrified and going places without telling me and being 4 and 6, but I’m not sure. Then I looked the mom square in the eyes and said in a much too nice and composed voice that my kids were not allowed to go away from my home without me knowing and that I would be taking them home now. “Okay,” she matter-of-factly answered. Not even the smallest apology.

I locked the doors, shut the windows and completely fell apart while driving away. At the end of the block, I stopped the car to properly finish my dissolution. When I finally finished my rant, my girls asked why we were not going to the park and that revved me right back up.

Later, when I had calmed down and had a few regrouping moments, I found out from Logan that she had asked to come home and tell me they were going and that the other mom said she couldn’t wait for her and that she should just call me. She did, but with the visitors that we had, I didn’t hear the phone ring. So the mom said to just leave a message and come along!

And there it was, the tiny voice of my six year old on the line, sweetly doing what she believes to be the right thing as directed by another mom. This may be an acceptable form of communication at sixteen, but not six. I have NO idea what this woman was thinking. It would never occur to me to take anyone’s children anywhere without first personally talking to the mom – NO MATTER WHAT!

Can I get a witness? Am I crazy?


Lauren said...

She was so completely out of line. Actually, it goes beyond that. She has no comprehension of the magnitude of what she did. It's creepy and weird and devoid of any and all social responsibility. I'd have freaked out too and not have remained as graceful in my response as you did. It's good you did though. You were just as effective, probably more so, getting your point across that way. Why are people so clueless?

susan said...

What a nutjob! Who does this in this day and age????????????????

n8 said...

I think I would have actually breathed a sigh of relief if one of my neighbors took my kids to the park. HOWEVER, we are ALL close friends, I COMPLETELY trust them, and I know they ALL our great mothers whom make WISE choices. Considering you hardly even know this neighbor, she crossed the line. Where was she for an hour anyway?

mary said...

Dittos to everyone's comment. Even if you know the parent well, a connection needs to be made prior to taking anyone's children - anywhere - not to mention this mother's other bad decisions: putting children in harms way (no helmets, three children in a one person carrier), causing undue stress for you not to mention for your kids.

Crazy? Clearly, not you.

Life seemed so much easier, when protecting your children meant keeping them warm and fed and safe in your arms...