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Shattered Boundaries

One of the stories reminded me of one of my own, which occurred some years ago at my daughter’s christening.

Among the guests were a couple – let’s call them Suzie and Alan – who we’d met through a mutual friend. For a while we were very close (we thought) and then contact suddenly dropped off; Suzie and Alan were (and still are) fabulously wealthy and we later discovered they had a habit of befriending ‘poorer’ couples, treating them like pet projects to be spoiled and shown a glimpse of the high life before dropping them for someone else.

At this time, the ‘friendship’ was cooling but we hadn’t yet realized why; we still considered them close enough to invite to what was a very special occasion for us. I have to say I was rather stunned when Suzie arrived wearing a very short, very tight, very low-cut fluorescent lime-green halter-neck dress that she’d borrowed from her then-17-year-old daughter…. (Suzie at that time being in her early 40s. She still dresses like a teenager now and has obvious issues about aging.)

However, I digress…..

After our daughter’s baptism at our local church, we held a celebration party at home.

Suzie and Alan had a younger child, Ross, then aged around three. Now, I know toddlers can be clumsy. And perhaps I should have been more careful about putting some of my knick-knacks and ornaments out of reach, but the party was supposed to be confined to the dining room/conservatory/garden areas and not our lounge. But Ross wanted to go in the lounge, so Suzie took him. (I was unaware of this as I was in the garden with other guests.)

Among my ornaments was a little crystal pot with a lid. I have no idea of its monetary value but it was special to me because it belonged to my grandmother; I have fond memories of her using it to store little treasures for me to discover when I visited her as a child. These might be nothing more than pretty buttons, acorns or sweets – it didn’t matter, it was ‘Nana and B’s special treasure pot’. Since my grandmother developed Alzheimer’s, things that remind me of happy times together are even more precious.

So – Ross is in the lounge (unknown to me). Suddenly we hear screaming; I rush inside and find Suzie and Ross next to, you’ve guessed it, my crystal pot which is in pieces on the floor. (Ross is fine and only screaming because his mother won’t let him play with the glass.)

“Oh no – my Nan’s treasure-pot,” I say, wanting to burst into tears.

Suzie’s response? Not “I’m sorry” or “Was it valuable?” or anything similar.

Simply: “Well, these things happen. No harm done – didn’t look like it was worth much.”

More than you will ever know or understand, Suzie. 0925-12

I get very disgusted with parents who do not rear their children to be decent human beings.  They are doing them no favors catering to every demand to go here, see that, touch this, gimme it.

Children need to be taught boundaries with other people’s possessions.   If you do not own it or plan to purchase it, don’t touch it until you get permission.   I routinely asked my kids while in a store and they were handling merchandise, “Do you own it?  Are you intending to own it? Then get your grubby paws off of someone else’s property.”  That meant no playing with toys in the toy department, picking up bags of candy, or pushing video game buttons.    If they were caught touching things they had business putting a finger on, the reaction was one of stern questioning, “Why did you think you had a right to her/his things?”     I do believe the genesis of thievery is the belief that everyone else’s stuff is actually your stuff for the taking.

{ 52 comments… add one }
  • kc23 October 4, 2012, 10:50 am

    Three is not an age kids have enough self-control to keep from touching. I’m sorry but expecting a 3 yr old to “know better” made me laugh. There’s a reason kids this age aren’t in school. They are not intellectuals. They are little neanderthals. Most kids still can’t communicate effectively at 3 let alone understand what you are saying or follow a rule. Self control is foreign that is why they still throw tantrums. My 5 year old still struggles with touching things and he has clear boundaries. Children are not little adults. I understand not wanting kids at a specific function. Shoot I don’t want kids at my own parties but expecting complete compliance at three … that’s insane.

    The mother is the one to blame here. She should never have gone in to that room, never should have let her child touch anything in there, should have apologized and PAID in some way. She’s a douche and shouldn’t be allowed in your home. She is not a friend. She is a miserable old crotchety human being.

  • Hollie October 4, 2012, 2:20 pm

    KC23, I have to respectfully disagree with your discription of young children. Being the oldest of five – practically raising the youngest two – raising a daughter myself who is currently only four and spending loads of time with kiddos, I am very aware that children understand faaaaar more than adults give them credit for at a very young age. You are right – they are not intellectuals; however, we are born with both instinct and potential for context and understanding and little ones as young as nine months old clearly understand the word “no” and – if given – the context for consequences. It’s what hones our instinctual understanding and shapes our future behaviour. My child CERTAINLY is not perfect – heck, neither am I! – but at the age of two and three, like most children at that age, she could absolutely understand rules, consequences for behavior and direction. It takes consitency and devotion on the part of the parent to ensure that their children are able to control themselves and live according to the values they are taught and that has to start at an early age. Don’t shortchange the smarts of a toddler or you will be a stressed out Mom when they’re older!

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