I’m not a person who’s comfortable with kids. Pregnancy freaks me out (think “Alien”) and I often wonder why it’s illegal to leash and muzzle kids.

I have a friend who has a 4 year old daughter that is, by turns, wonderful, pretty, terrorizing, amazing, petulant, emotional, awe-inspiring and odd. I try to be the good “aunt” even though I’m just a family friend. Usually this means spoiling her rotten until she starts being cranky and demanding and then I hand her back to dad. I love her, just not that much. Dad usually sighs with resignation, knowing that I’m never going to stop spoiling her.

However, Dad and I talk A LOT about what is and isn’t acceptable. There are simply some limits to what he’s willing to allow her to do and I follow Dad’s lead. He’s the one that donated his genetics to this little person, so; ultimately, she’s his responsibility.

It’s at this point that I have to say there’s nothing inherently wrong with children. They have far too much energy and imagination for my liking; a combination which, in my own experience, does not end well. However, there’s nothing wrong with them. It’s the parents I have problems with.

It’s true, kids freak me out. My friend’s four-year old aside, I have no idea what to do with them other than open a factory and have them sew sneakers. Apparently that idea is not politically correct, as fun as it may sound. I’ve been told that you’re supposed to play with them and teach them. The games I know are not suitable for children and may get me jail time with a spot on “Dateline” if I try. Equally, the things I try to teach them may sound good to me, make parents cranky.

I don’t know what it is; maybe the minute you extend your genetic material beyond your body it saps all your common sense but parents are fundamentally dumb to me. Not all of them, just most. For example, I read a story on Yahoo about a 5’10”, 220 lb former football player who was beaten up by a 50lb 6 year old. This doesn’t surprise me. Adults can’t beat up children. I imagine this child, who has a history of escalating violence, probably got in a few well-placed kicks and did some real damage. Meanwhile, this man probably did his best to defend himself without actually touching the child. After all, if the man, a gym teacher, had smacked the boy across the bottom or held him down, the parents would be screaming murder.

So, a 6 year old takes out a grown man’s knee and the parents are saying, “not my boy.” I have heard this refrain far too often from parents. Their child is a good boy or girl and would never do that… Really? Okay, then who is that in the playground pushing the other kids into the dirt? Not your kid? Looks like your kid. Oh. I see, he’s only playing. Then why is that little girl crying?

The parents who often cry this “not my child” refrain have a backup battle cry that goes, “it takes a village to raise a child.” This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. If you are a parent, you made the choice to fling your genetic material into the world, not me. Raise your own children. This villager is busy doing adult things.

Here’s the problem with the village scenario; these parents want me and the other villagers to raise their Johnny or Suzy. However, let said villagers discipline Johnny or Suzy and we lose our jobs, our reputations or even our freedoms. Try giving your neighbour’s out of control brat a smack on the rear and see how fast Child Protective Services shows up on your doorstep.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not in favour of abusing or hitting. However, discipline can be something as simple as saying “no” or sitting the child down for a time out away from the other kids for a few minutes. However, let one of us villagers try that and let me know how it works out for you.

Parents, stop burying your head in the sand and admit that maybe your kid is a brat who is out of control the moment you leave the room. Further, if you want other people to be responsible for your child when you’re not around, then give them the ability to stop them when they get out of control. Teachers are so helpless now that they get fired if they give a student a zero when they don’t do the work, such as the case for Edmonton, Alberta teacher, Lynden Dorval. Daycare providers aren’t even allowed to do a time out without parents screaming abuse. I have children in my neighbourhood who regularly use a large construction machine as a jungle gym. Yet, when I tell them to stop, the parents complain to the site managers about me. Forget that there is a park not two blocks away and the machine is dangerous. That’s their little precious (said in my best Gollum voice).

I’ll make a deal with all the parents out there. You take responsibility for your child and I won’t try to parent your child. This means;

  1. You actually spend time with them. Time does not include sitting them in front of a computer game or video and expecting them to be entertained. This means talking, listening, playing, reading, helping and taking time out to be with them in a meaningful way.
  2. If I tell you that your child is doing something wrong, take me seriously. I am not complaining for the sake of complaining and I get no pleasure in getting your child in trouble.
  3. Teach your child respect. This means respect for themselves, others and property. I don’t expect them to bow when they meet me (though that’d be fun), but I don’t want them spitting on me, either. Just the same respect you’d show any stranger on the street.
  4. Let your child know that self-reliance is a good thing. If the park is two blocks away, there’s no reason they can’t go there for a couple of hours. If you worry about them, give them a cell phone and teach them how to dial you and 911. Give them some freedom so they understand how to stand on their own feet in the future. The rest of us villagers have to work with them when they’re adults and can’t make a decision for themselves because they never  got to stand on their own growing up. I currently work with a 20 year old who is nearly impossible to train. She simply can’t think for herself.
  5. Take responsibility for the things you teach your child. If you smoke and drink all day long and wait for your welfare check to come in, don’t blame me when your child begins smoking and drinking. The little buggers are wonderful mirrors of those they love the most.
  6. Understand that your child does not live in a bubble and they are going to get exposed to ideas and beliefs different from your own. Do not expect your child to never see a boob or hear about the Islamic religion. They will be exposed to other religions, sex and sexuality, racism, feminism and a lot of other ideas. Deal with it.

So the next time someone comes to you and says your child is doing or saying something, take a moment to believe them. You may love your child and think they are the next world genius. We don’t. If you’re not going to listen to those people who you entrust your child’s care to, then raise them yourselves. This villager is tired of being helpless and having to take your child’s abuse.

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