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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Backseat Parenting

This morning I came to shul early for reasons I'll explain in a moment.

As I left our apartment with ND (U. was just a few minutes behind me, but I needed to go) I ran into several men and their childen also on their way to shul. I ended up walking just ahead of them with the daughter of one of them. The men had basically not welcomed me into the conversation. They were in the middle of it and I don't know any of them that well, but I have no qualms talking to kids whether or not I know them.

At one point during the conversation she started telling me about a doll she has. She began to run through its features:

It's orange, it's a girl, it's...

I phased out for a minute, knowing I wouldn't miss to much as she marketed this little product, and listened to the men. They were talking about iPhones.

It's new, it has special batteries, it totally is changing technology...

Ahhh... kids and big kids, talking about toys. Why do I understand and am sympathetic when the little ones do it but not the big ones?

In any case, the reason I was coming early was that U. and I had duty watching a group of the kids at shul. I didn't (and still don't) entirely understand the situation. Basically, there are childcare people there, but most of the parents aren't crazy about them and they try to have parents present. Part of why I didn't get the situation clearly was that we're not K-1 parents yet obviously. We were assigned to this because there was a need and because we hadn't been assigned to kiddush cleanup. Nothing was really expected of us other than to have a shul member present to make sure everything was cool with the caregivers there.

But I came prepared to tell the story of Balaam and the donkey from this week's parsha. And as U. and the babysitter looked on, I think I did a pretty good job keeping the kids occupied. And frankly, I enjoyed it.

A year ago I was asked to take a job with the shul doing some form of that with the childcare. I never learned the exact details because I said no as I was pregnant at the time and anticipating working full-time and never seeing my new daughter.

After today, now that I'm on break, I'm a little tempted to revisit the issue as there is still a need. I'm wondering if I would still enjoy working with those kids after I go back to work, especially if I traded it off with someone else. I wouldn't want to miss shul every week. But I wouldn't mind sometimes. And as for being paid, I could definitely use a few extra dollars. I'm not exactly sure how that works. You're not supposed to work for money on Shabbat. But as an example, a person who reads the Torah aloud at shul is sometimes paid to practice the reading during the week in order to make the Shabbat reading happen. I think the same goes for teaching or else the rabbi would have a difficult time doing his job.

Probably my biggest concern is that I don't know if I want to be caring for the children of too many people who are my own community. Several times today I was tempted into some backseat parenting. For example, the child I walked with this morning (see the beginning of this entry) was told repeatedly to hold her father's hand. It was partly because she kept refusing that I asked her to walk with me. I asked if she knew why she should hold hs hand and she claimed she didn't. We discussed it and, at least with me, she was very careful about it for the rest of the walk. The dad says she listens to everyone but her parents. That may be so, but I tend to be skeptical. (Uortunately) my fellow shul congregants don't need me second-guessing their parenting moves all the time. :)

But I think back to the comments people made when I said I was watching K-1. Usually it was, "How did you get suckered into that?" Well, as usual, I was more comfortable doing that than socializing with my peers. Is it fair, then, for me to make a leap to the idea that I might just be better at being with kids than many of the people who have been parenting for so many years?

U. commented to me recenly that he has been impressed by something. I've always been the type to say that I would do something different than another parent. He said that he wondered if once I became a parent myself I would do that more, or would give people a greater benefit of the doubt. He said he's impressed of me that I've generally given the benefit of a doubt. I'm proud of that too.

But I still have that side of me that is both good and bad that really doesn't like what I see a LOT of parents doing. I don't just mean the little choices of do you have the kid sleep in your bedroom or not... that kind of thing people get worked up about but really just reflects different philosophies. I mean yelling at kids for things that are YOUR fault. Or ignoring them.

I see these things. They are incredibly common. And I want to get nosy ad "helpful." And you know how much I love it when people do that to me.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous alissa said...

re: the handholding thing. One of the things I see parents do (and dog owners. Sorry.) is yelling the kid's name with no instruction following. To wit:

Dad: Ploni.
Dad: Ploni!
Dad: Ploni!!!
Dad: PLONI MENACHEM SHMUEL MENDEL!!!!
Ploni MSM: WHAT???
Dad: I TOLD you to STAY IN THE YARD!!!

drives me nuts.

Why do so many parents have so much trouble explaining things to kids? And yes, I don't have any, so I don't understand, but I do know that there are times when a parent has just had enough and doesn't have the patience to explain. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about the habitual non-explainers.

And yeah - why are co-sleeping and breast feeding issues that will send women at each others' throats, but how to teach your child to be safe and responsible is "eh, whatever."

1:25 PM

 

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