General Etiquette > Family and Children

Not sure what I should have done

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Drunken Housewife:
I feel so sorry for Jane.  Poor little girl, with such careless, disengaged parents.  It was completely age-inappropriate for them to expect her to amuse herself at 18 months. 

I have briefly left the house with a sleeping toddler, but not to go so far as these parents and not for so long, and it was in my own home.  I would not leave a sleeping toddler alone in an unbabyproofed house.  These parents went too far away and for far too long.

Someone needs to talk to the parents about this.  They are in some state of denial.  In general it's not appropriate to question someone's parenting, but this rises to the level of putting the child at risk. 

As far as wineries go:  I live in California and have done a lot of wine tasting in Napa, Sonoma, and other wine regions.  I have never seen a sign barring children.  To the contrary I see plenty of children.   I never had an issue with kids when I was childless and going tasting a few times a year.  I've taken my own kids to a number of wineries, and they generally stayed outside (wineries here tend to have outside tables and chairs and nice areas to walk around).  There's usually something I can buy for them, like cheese and crackers or drinks.

I'll be honest, I'm a much more "free range mom" than many other parents I've met (helicopter parenting is very popular these days ;) ), so, at first, I was reading your post as a bit judgmental. In my area, breweries and wineries are family establishments. In fact, my son begs to go to the brewery for the popcorn. There is often live music, and generally the musician's kids as well as other local kids stand up at the front and dance while we stand behind. I know some family members judge me for taking my kid to a "grown up place", but that's just not the case. I also would have no issue letting my kid sleep in a friend's house while we hung out just outside. I don't see how that would be negligent, I'd get to him nearly as fast as if I were in the house. And, if one of my friends retired for the night, especially if she seemed to have indicated that she was worried about my child's safety, I'd assume she'd holler if something were amiss, so I might not check as often as usual.
I also tend to be pretty hands out with my son when we're visiting friends. He likes playing in a new house, often other people are entertaining him, etc. I don't ignore him, but it's not all about him all the time, that's just life.
ALL THAT SAID, none of this really seems like the case with your friends. I think the taking a kid to a brewery/winery is really not an issue here, but everything else seems very negligent. It sounds like they were very far from the house, with an unlocked pool and dogs who aren't acclimated to kids. This would freak me out! I do think getting salty about it probably came off as petty instead of encouraging them to step up, but I don't really know if I would have been able to act differently. It seems like people have tried to generally hint to them that they need to stop being so flakey, and they don't seem to get it.
I agree with other posters, that the homeowner really should have put his foot down. It actually sounds like this should have been an adult only thing, particularly with the dogs and the exposed pool.

The saints and angels must have been watching over my sister, since she lived to grow up!  A couple of things she did at around 18 months:

Climbed up somehow, and got the baby aspirin off the top shelf of the medicine cabinet in the bathroom, ate the whole bottle, and had to have her stomach pumped. (That was long before "child-proof" bottle caps - but she would have gotten past most of them, too.)

At our summer place, got the screen off the bedroom window (on the second story), and climbed out, falling to the ground, where she miraculously landed between the 2 huge granite boulders, on a pile of pine needles, and was totally unhurt!

 I was in a situation very similar to this once, about 8 years ago, and I still regret not saying anything. Nothing happened, the kids were fine, but I didn't say anything. 

This was when visiting some friends in Europe. We were staying for the night, and they'd suggested we go out for dinner nearby once the kids (about 1 and 3) were in bed.  A friend of theirs who lived upstairs had come down, and I presumed he was staying with the kids. Until we left, and the friend followed us out of the apartment!  We went about a block away for dinner, and they called from cell/mobile A to cell B, left the line open with one phone in the bedroom with the kids (free calls within the network after business hours) and listened to the phone from time to time (even on speaker you wouldn't hear them over the busy restaurant, you had to pick it up and put it to your ear).  I didn't have kids at the time, and really felt uncomfortable with the situation, but also uncomfortable criticising their parenting, which was otherwise very good.

As I said, I still feel awful about this and wish I'd said something.  Lots of things could have happened that we wouldn't have heard, especially when only listening occasionally to the phone.  When we left I said to my boyfriend (now husband) 'that's not ok when/if we have kids'. 

Now, as a parent, I'd often sit in back the garden with the kids asleep safely upstairs. But I'd have a baby monitor and a stair gate in place.  I might pop in next door for 5 minutes to borrow something, again with the monitor.  But I wouldn't ever leave my kids in the situation described in the OP.  It definitely sounds like an accident waiting to happen.

My husband comes from a family that is extremely "free range" in their parenting. He was allowed to play with his brother in the woods behind their home, far out of view of any adults, for extended periods of time when he was just old enough to walk (probably age 3-4). Even in his family, there is a rule now that the kids always have to be within sight/hearing distance of an adult.


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