Karen Alpert was at the playground with her son. She was distracted, helping one of his friends who was crying and missed what was going on across the jungle gym. Her son was trying to get on the monkey bars, when an unfamiliar woman started speaking to him in a strong voice. Karen replied with an open letter to this woman on her blog. And the message was pretty surprising:
Dear stranger who disciplined my kiddo at the playground today,
Woah woah woah, lemme get this straight. So today your daughter was trying to do the monkey bars? Okay, got it. And my kid was trying to do the monkey bars too? Simple enough. But since your kiddo is new to the monkey bars and takes forever and sometimes gets scared and stops right in the middle, my son had no choice but to go past her and sometimes bump her a little and she would fall and be all sensitive and start crying? Hmmm. Alrighty then.
Now before I continue, I just want to say that yes, I know I should have been there when this all went down, but unfortunately I was on the other side of the playground with my son’s friend who was crying. So no, I wasn’t there, but does that give you a right to discipline my kiddo? Does that give you the right to talk to him sternly and tell him to knock it off? Does that give you the right to act like you are the person in charge when he is actually MY child?
Ummmm, yes. YES IT DOES.
I didn’t get the chance to say this today, but THANK YOU. Because if my kid is acting like a douchenugget and I’m not around for whatever reason, you have my permission to tell him to knock it off. I’m not saying you have the right to touch him in any way or yell at him uncontrollably (only I’m allowed to do that), but please feel free to tell him to stop being a jerkwad if he’s not waiting his turn to do the monkey bars. Or if he’s walking up the slide. Or if he’s throwing wood chips. Or if he’s saying bad words. Or being a bully. Or doing anything that he shouldn’t be doing that’s bothering someone else.
Because even if you aren’t his parent, you are the adult. Which means you are smarter than he is. And yeah, I know there are probably a-holes out there who would be all pissy about some stranger getting mad at their kiddo, but not me.
It takes a village. And these days our village might be a little bigger and more spread out and we don’t all sleep in side-by-side huts or ride in covered wagons or gather around the campfire at night and we don’t even all know each other, but we can either choose to have a village or not. And I choose to have a village.
I’m sorry I wasn’t there to do my job, so thank you for helping me do it.
“That” kid’s mom
I doubt the woman, whoever she is, would expect to receive this letter. It’s already been shared more than 300,000 times. Amazing – passing a message around our ever-growing village.
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