That fine parenting line...do you cross it?

It's been rainy, gloomy, and gross here the past couple of days. Making less than ideal conditions for us to be outside playing, or to be outside in general. We've been cooped up in the house together going crazy and one can only go to Target so many times with kids before losing ones mind (trust me, I know firsthand). So needless to say, I jumped at the chance to visit a "friend" and her children for a playdate/lunch date to get the hell out of the house. We should have stayed home...


Everything started off just fine, we were all glad for the distraction of other people and for a while the kids were getting along great and having a grand old time (all of our kids are very close in age...but she had an extra monopolizing most of her attention and her right breast most of the afternoon). The four kids were playing in the toy room together while she and I chatted in an adjacent room (which turned out to be a very good thing...someone needed to keep those little demons within their direct line of sight). The older boys played relatively well together for a while and the toddlers did the typical I'm-going-to-play-with-this-toy-until-I-see-which-toy-you-pick-up-and-then-I'm-going-to-rip-it-mercilessly-from-your-hands thing. My toddler tired of that pretty quickly and walked over to a bin of cars and trucks. She went straight for the Lightning McQueen cars. Well, this went over like a shit in a punch bowl with the owner of said cars. He gave her an elbow to the gut and grabbed as many as he get into his chubby little fists and began beating her over the head with them as he growled "MYCARSMYCARSMYCARSMYCARS". (think "REDRUM" creepy voice...you know the one) Of course she started to cry as I'm sure those things are made of titanium or lead or some other trauma inducing metal so I scurried over to her and asked "what happened?" as if I hadn't seen that little shit just beat my child with his Pixar weapons of mass destruction. My son instantly jumped to his sister's defense and told me what that demon had done. I wiped her tears, plucked a dislodged car tire from her pigtail, held back enormous restraint from shoving him bodily into the toy bin, and distracted my child with something I was hopeful would not incite another unwanted attack and returned to the other room (but scooted my chair surreptitiously a bit closer to the toy room...for proximity and to use as a weapon against him if necessary). Through it all the other mother didn't even bat an eyelash. She never moved. Never once did she intervene to deal with her child. She just looked at me as if to say "hee hee...boys" REALLY???? Hmmmm. Ok. Can I get you more coffee?  Right... Is the baby EVER going to detach? Just curious. No? Ok. Did you happen to see what just transpired in there? No again? So that's normal then? Uh huh...So we continue chatting, the kids continue playing (my toddler made the wise decision to keep her distance from Beelzebub...but don't ask about the Legos, fruit snacks, or the sippy cup incident) and we move on to lunch....

Beelzebub threw his cup at my child when he decided he didn't want her to sit on the complete opposite side of the table...lovely. Again, no reaction from mom. I bit my tongue. Beelzebub's older brother then showed his less than pleasant side when he began sticking his fingers into my son's sandwich. Really? Clearly this "strong" personality gene runs in the family. Awesome...good luck to the little milk hound. His mom gave him "the look" but he gave her his own look back as if to say "yeah right mom, nice try...I know you aren't going to do shit about it...watch as I do it again" Beelzebub jumped on the bandwagon and started throwing pretzels. I shouldn't have been surprised at the lack of reaction from mom as I dodged Rold Golds. But my kids were clearly horrified...they both kept staring at me like "holy shit mom, are you watching this? and no one is kicking their asses for it!" And then Beelzebub's brother started dipping his pretzel's into my son's chocolate milk, apparently my son politely asking him to stop just spurred him on because then he decided to stab pretzels into his sandwich. At that point I quietly picked his plate up and moved it for him. All the while mom sat idly by with babe to breast with not a word to say to either of her spawn but a multitude of half assed "come on guys...." or "that's not nice" or "we don't do that" HOLY SHIT ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????  I was unable to speak.  Had I opened my mouth not only would I have suffered enormous blood loss from biting my tongue I would have unleashed a torrent of bad parenting juju... So here is my question... Where is that fine parenting line? Are we allowed to "parent" other people's kids? That is a sticky business right there....

Obviously I need to do what's best for my kids, I did what I could to remove them from the situations (and believe me, I've only told you a few of the situations my kids found themselves in at the hands of these two) But where do you step in? Do you just deal with YOUR kids and move on? Obviously there are always extenuating circumstances (if the parents aren't around, if the kids are in obvious danger...etc) but that is always a tough one for me. So I just gritted my teeth, swallowed the blood from biting my tongue, and packed it in earlier than intended (with audible sighs of relief from my son). Needless to say, it'll be a good, long while before we have a rainy day playdate with them again...or a sunny day playdate, or a blizzardy playdate...maybe a nuclear holocaust? Yep, I'll call her tomorrow and get that scheduled...

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