Earlier today I saw a tweet that said:
“Question for mothers – if a woman grabs your son’s arm to PUSH him out of the way of her photograph – is that acceptable?! I am upset!”
I immediately replied to say that was completely unacceptable. And then I remembered something that happened yesterday… It’s not really the same thing, but it just got me thinking…
Yesterday I took V to the playground. It is actually a little coffee shop with outside seating and a very large garden. In the garden there are a few swings, slides, a sandpit and an enclosed trampoline. Most of it from Little Tikes.
It was much busier than usual, for some reason. There was a large group of men (about 12 of them) having some kind of meeting. Why they sat outside, I don’t know. But bloody hell, they were very very loud. There were about two or three mums who I had never seen before. They were chilling and having a chat (and watching their children play). There was the usual group of Lebanese women that are there every day. They sit, chat, smoke, have coffee and watch their children (and nannies). There were a lot of older kids as well. 9 – 11 year olds – and there are never kids that age there. They came with 3 nannies, some youngers and no parents. And there was us. Three of us, with our kids and the nannies.
I was sitting at a table, talking to the two friends I was with and watching V. He was sitting in the grass, pulling out chunks of it, giving it to the nanny and laughing. One of the men in the large group (sitting behind us) started talking very loudly. I turned around to give them all a dirty look (I’m very good at those).
When I turned back and looked for V, he was in the same place – and saw that the nanny had one arm around him and was holding her other arm out – trying to fend off a three year old that was trying to hit my son. So instead of hitting Vinay, this child was hitting my nanny’s arm. Was anyone with her (I think she was a girl)? Yes. Her nanny was with her. Holding her other arm. But not trying to stop her.
I ran over (yes, I ran!) and in a loud(ish) voice said, ‘What’s going on here? Is there a problem?’ (I think it was the teacher in me). My nanny explained.
The child’s nanny was on the phone. I told her to get off the phone and look after her child. She looked a bit surprised, but still didn’t hang up the phone.
As I said that, I remembered a post I read on Pants With Names and thought, ‘Uh-oh. If this child’s parent is here, I might get into a whole lot of trouble.’
That child’s mum wasn’t there. She proceeded to spend the next hour trying to hit other young children and the nanny did absolutely nothing to stop her.
I also saw the same 9-11 year old children (about 6 of them) on the trampoline, jumping up and down and eating ice cream at the same time. The trampoline can’t take that many children. They shouldn’t have been eating while jumping up and down. The nannies bought them the ice creams, asked them to come out – but obviously, they didn’t.
Having spent many years teaching here, I’ve seen, unfortunately an extraordinary amount of children that treat their nannies like dirt. And I don’t just mean one ethnic group or another – I mean children from *everywhere*. They wouldn’t dream of talking to their teachers or parents in the same way that they speak to their nannies. They throw their book-bags at them at the end of the school day, or have total tantrums when the nanny asks them to do something.
It took me a while to realise – but the children know. They *know* that their nannies cannot discipline them. That their parents have not given them the authority to do so.
And the nannies…? They are scared that if they try to enforce any sort of rules, the children will complain to their parents and they’ll lose their jobs.
We’ve not had to use any sort of discipline as yet – but Vinay will definitely be showing his nanny some respect. And she will have to be able to work alongside me and reinforce the morals and values I’m trying to instill in him and say ‘No’ and teach him the differences between right and wrong.
Surely children should have more respect for their elders? No matter who they are or what they do?