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have you got any yoyos

was sitting at my desk folding admissions letters and talking to my husband on the phone when a little girl walked into my office and asked me for a sticker.

Me, “I’m sorry. I don’t have any stickers.”
Child, “Do you have any candy?” (eying the solo lollypop sitting on my desk – that particular lollypop had been there since Valentine’s day when someone in our office was handing out candy to everyone)

Just as I gave her the lollypop her little brother walked in, saw her with the lollypop and looked at me expectantly.

Me, in a really sad voice knowing what happens when one sibling gets something and the other does not. “I’m sorry Sweetie, I only had one lollypop.”
Her, “That’s okay.” And with that they walked out of my office.
I called out, “Check with you mom before you eat the lolly to make sure it’s okay.” then went back to folding letters.

I heard crying from outside my door.

They walked back in, and she asked me, “Do you have any candy for my brother?”
I said, “I’m sorry, that was my only lollypop.”
She said, “Well, do you have a yoyo for him?”
Me, after a surprised pause, “no, I don’t have any yoyos”
Child, pointing to my Wash/Firefly model, “What about that dinosaur?”
Me, “Sorry, that was a gift from my husband. I can’t give him that.”

From the expression on her face she clearly thought it inappropriate and shameful that an adult would have a toy dinosaur. It made no sense for me to not give her brother the t-rex and stegosaurus; I was not only being unreasonable I was being cruel.

Child, “Don’t you have anything for children?”
Me, “No, Sweetie. This is an office where people work.”
(Except when interrupted by unsupervised children.)

She and her brother stood there for a bit staring at me, then she started actively searching the room, peering intently at everything on my desk and counters to locate something for her little brother. I watched in amused but irritated silence. The only sound generated in the room was the crunching of her lollypop. Her brother just stood there quietly watching me with big eyes.

Meanwhile my husband was on the other end of the phone laughing because he heard the preceding conversation. He tossed out comments like “Offer her death!” and “I only had one bit, I wasn’t expecting such a rush.”

Me, “Where is your mommy?”
Child, pointing to the main office “Out there.”
Me, “Let’s go find her.”

So the three of us walked out to the lobby area. I found her mom in the financial aid line.

I apologized about giving her a lollypop without permission. The child held up the stick to her mom either in victory or as evidence and said something like, “She only had one.”

I explained that I didn’t realize she had a brother when she first came into my office and now the children are trying to find something to give her brother. I did not say YOUR KIDS ARE KEEPING ME FROM DOING MY WORK AND TRYING TO TAKE MY STUFF – WHY ARE YOU NOT SUPERVISING THEM??? which was what I was thinking.

The guy at the financial aid window saved the day. With a huge smile he handed me a tootsie roll to give to the little boy. I said, “There, now you both have something.” and fled the scene. I was hoping that would keep them out of my office, but as I walked away the little girl started to follow me. Thankfully her mom called her back.

At least the mom got embarrassed that they had interrupted someone, but she chastised her daughter, which I think is wrong. I think it was the mother who misbehaved by not watching them. If I were four and bored out of my mind in a drab office waiting for my mom to do some mysterious and uninteresting business I would start wandering around, too. The only chairs in the office are nestled near the entrance (next to my office) and not in direct line of sight from the FA window. So if she and her brother were told to sit in the chairs and wait it would mean that Mom could not see them while conducing her business. She should have either had them sitting at her feet *or* moved the chairs into her line of sight so that while she talked to FA she could glance over every couple of seconds to make sure they were still there. And she should have brought them a book or crayons or toys, because it’s not unusual to have to wait in line when you are doing business anywhere. Even if this were spur of the moment she could have asked anyone in our building for two pieces of paper and two highlighters so they could at least “color” as a distraction. Wandering into someone’s office and demanding things may have embarrassed her as a mom, but how would she feel if they wandered outside or got lost or kidnapped?

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
rob_t_firefly
Aug. 5th, 2011 02:45 am (UTC)
Please pass my Internet high-five along to your husband for "cake or death."

Also, I worked in the arcade/amusement-center industry for years, and I could tell you so many stories of parents being negligent and then chastising the kid over the consequences. Some humans really have no business making other humans.
ann_mcn
Aug. 5th, 2011 09:54 am (UTC)
You are quite right about the mother's responsibility, but be grateful the kids were basically well-behaved, and the mom didn't chew you out for disappointing the kids. Some real horror stories out there!
sarahtoalaska
Aug. 12th, 2011 10:22 am (UTC)
Sadly the world is full of kids whose parents basically expect the world to watch their kids.

I've never understood that. HOW can you assume that everyone else in the area is safe for your children to be around. Ignoring how rude it is to just let your kids do anything they want, it's just... stupid.

It takes less than a minute for a child to disappear.

I can't even tell you how many people I've seen just let their kids run free. My two "favorites" were from my first job and from Hell-Mart.

The first one was a beautiful little redhead about 5 years old. I noticed her because she was so adorable. We had a wall of toys and people were always leaving their kids there. An hour after I first noticed her a customer brought her to me and she was balling. She didn't know where her mommy was. So I took her hand and went down every isle. Her mom was literally on the other side of the store. Seriously, it was the back wall. I went up to her and said "She didn't know where you were". The woman looked down at the kid and said "Oh". She didn't care that the child had been scared. Just didn't care. That child could have been gone for an hour.

The second one was a little boy that made a friend in Hell_Mart. When that child's mom wondered off the little boy followed. I kept an eye on him although his mom didn't. We were in fabrics in the back and the child was at the front before mom even noticed.

Really people? I know sometimes stuff happens (like not meaning to spend so much time in line), but the whole world is not there to watch your children, nor is it safe to assume so.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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