Part of the fun of having multiple small children is that there were inevitably be a time when you need to focus on just one while other children get ignored. And you know how small children can be when no one is paying attention.
They love it. It’s when they can get into all the mischief.
Small children love being unsupervised. Parents love playdates.
We were fortunate to have some playdates over Yom Tov, but my daughter is going through a phase where when it comes time to leave a playdate she pitches a fit.
And I keep forgetting that she’s in this phase and so I completely do not prep her before the playdate, like telling her how important it is to leave a playdate nicely, and how if she leaves nicely then she can have more playdates.
Generally, I like to pre-empt tantrums and get the kids on board with good behavior before I find myself stuck with a hysterical 5-year-old who refuses to get off of a trampoline which necessitates a parent going onto the trampoline and dragging her off.
That’s where we were on Yom Tov.
My bigger boys were playing at a neighbor’s house and so my husband and I had the pleasure of putting our toddler in the stroller and walking together to pick up our daughter from a playdate.
When we got there my husband stayed with the stroller and I went around back to get her. She didn’t want to come home (at which point I remembered that I forgot to address this situation prior to the playdate) and in the presence of other people I lost any ability to work my parenting magic because, you know, parenting in front of other people is totally a different creature than parenting privately.
My husband, wondering what the hold-up was, came around the back and, after unsuccessfully trying to negotiate, cajole, and plead with her, offered to climb up onto the trampoline to get her. I was happy to not have to do it in my Yom Tov clothes, and was only slightly mortified when all of a sudden I heard a little familiar voice from a distance.
WHO WAS WATCHING THE TODDLER!?
Thankfully, he had followed my husband to the backyard and nothing terrifying happened, but seriously! That was scary!
And also a good reminder that sometimes good parents make less than good decisions. And that sometimes, probably most of the time, things work out without any trauma. But I can say with 100% certainty that if, G-d forbid, anything bad had happened, we would have been dragged through the wringer of public opinion, and would probably have earned the unofficial title of Bad Parents.
At least until the next bit of jaw-dropping news came around.
So, what’s the takeaway? I guess to not be too judgmental if you see something that looks like a bad decision. It could be a lapse of judgment.
Also, watch your toddlers.