Author Topic: Not sure what I should have done  (Read 9854 times)

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StarFaerie

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Not sure what I should have done
« on: April 25, 2014, 06:45:37 AM »
Before I start, let's not get into any legalities here.

We just spent a week with friends at one of their houses. 8 adults and one 18 month old (let's call her Jane) in a house for a week was interesting. The house was at a small farm 30 minutes drive from a resort town. Nice house with 5 bedrooms, pool and so on.

The couple with the child (Barry and Sue) have a different parenting style to me. They tend to sit around, play with their phones and let others look after their child or just let her entertain herself. I love them as people but it was a little annoying being around it for a week, with either others looking after Jane (the whole group did that) or have her making noise out of boredom. Jane was dragged to everything we adults did. Mornings were kids stuff (and Barry and Sue insisted we all stay together for it) and afternoons Jane was brought to wineries, breweries and bars. In the evenings we all then went back to the house. Barry and Sue seem not to want to change their lifestyle at all now that they are parents. Jane is an absolute darling and is much loved by the whole group. She is not the only child in the group, just the only one there. Other parents and kids in the group didn't join us this week and my son is much older (15) and was not with us.  So that's some background.

Last night was the final night of our stay. The plan was to have a bonfire after dinner. The bonfire was situated in a field about 300m (546yards) from the house. We ate dinner at about 8pm with Jane and then she was put to bed. BF and I headed up to start the bonfire with the host (John) (The hostess, Gina, was still at work at the time)

You can probably see what's coming.

About 10 Minutes later, Barry and Sue and the other couple came up to the fire. I asked if Gina had come home, hoping that she was in the house. Nope, she was still at work. Jane was alone in the house, presumably asleep. But Barry and Sue said they'd check on her occasionally.

I was furious. We could neither see inside the house nor hear anything from the house from where we were and Jane can open doors.

I said nothing to Barry and Sue, but just made my apologies and said I was going to bed. Apparently my anger came across so obviously that everyone assumed that BF and I had had a fight.

I went to the lounge room and found that the pool door was left open from when her parents and the other couple had gone up to the bonfire (there is a door direct from the lounge room to the pool deck then a gate out to the field.) There had been nothing stopping the little one from waking up and going out to the pool. Luckily she hadn't. I ended up sitting in the lounge reading listening out for her for a few hours until her mother came in to bed. They did not check on her at all in that time.

Hints were given throughout the hours by people around the bonfire that Jane was alone and that the pool door had been open (I messaged BF to let him know that) but Barry and Sue stayed put.

If the baby had ended up in the pool, John would have been held criminally responsible for having an unsecured pool. So he is furious with Barry and Sue. And I'm still angry at them too.

A few questions then:

So what should I have done at the time? I'm sure what I chose was wrong but I was very angry and I do have a bad temper unfortunately.
Calling the police or DOCS (Child Protection) was not an option so don't suggest it, please.

Was it unfair or rude to suggest one night where either Barry or Sue stayed back at the house with Jane (One of us would have stayed with them if they'd asked)?

And, what can we say to them now, if anything?

Thanks very much.

LeveeWoman

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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2014, 06:59:11 AM »
If I were John or Tina, Barry and Sue would never get another invitation to my home again. I don't know if I would say anything unless they asked.

MizA

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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2014, 07:12:30 AM »
I think, in a case like this, less hinting and a more direct approach could have been taken. The parents should have been told in no uncertain terms to get back to the house and look after their child.
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LeveeWoman

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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2014, 07:26:00 AM »
I think, in a case like this, less hinting and a more direct approach could have been taken. The parents should have been told in no uncertain terms to get back to the house and look after their child.

I agree. And, if Iwere John, I would've gone back to the house if the parents refused to do so.

bloo

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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2014, 07:30:36 AM »
Pod to the first two posters. Direct and no more invites until they either a) start parenting or b) are done parenting. One or both should have been told, then shamed into going back to the house. But at least you made sure kid was safe even though Barry and Sue couldn't be bothered to.

This is not a 'different parenting style'. This is not parenting at all.

StarFaerie

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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2014, 07:35:29 AM »
Thanks Leveewoman. I think it may be a while before they do after this. John's now decided to get the pool fenced separately, so it will be at least until after that. It'll ruin the look but he never wants a shock like that again.

Thanks bloo. I always feel a bit odd with other parents. I know it's hard. I had to make sure she was safe. I couldn't live with myself otherwise.

I think, in a case like this, less hinting and a more direct approach could have been taken. The parents should have been told in no uncertain terms to get back to the house and look after their child.

Thank you. You are so right. I don't know why we all seemed so loathe to approach this directly. Now that I look back, I wish we had.

Do you think I should have as soon as they came up when we asked if Gina was back? Was that the best opening? What about when they insisted Jane was OK? How far did we have the right to push this?

To be honest, I had such a shock when I saw that pool door open. I ran out to to pool, then back to the bed room to check she was there (she was there, fast asleep and snoring, the little darling) and then ran back to the pool door to close it. All I could see in my minds eye when I first saw the open door was the thought of a baby floating in a pool. Thank deity she was OK. But I'm still shaken up by it.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2014, 07:37:45 AM by StarFaerie »

sammycat

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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2014, 07:56:46 AM »
I think, in a case like this, less hinting and a more direct approach could have been taken. The parents should have been told in no uncertain terms to get back to the house and look after their child.

Agreed.

I love them as people

Why? These so-called 'parents' sound like utterly vile people and I'd never socialise with them again. They don't care about their child, and they don't care about their friends, proven by their total disregard for the perilous situation they put the homeowner in should anything have happened to Jane whilst on the property.

Jane was dragged to everything we adults did. Mornings were kids stuff (and Barry and Sue insisted we all stay together for it) and afternoons Jane was brought to wineries, breweries and bars.

Why did everyone go along with Barry and Sue's insistence that everyone stick together for the morning stuff? Why should one couple with a child be able to dictate that all the childless couples partake in kids stuff?  Someone should have had the  balls to tell Barry and Sue that the morning activities was going to be X and they understood if they couldn't join in as they had to look after Jane.  (This would apply to any situation where one person/couple tries to dictate the activities all the time; not just where children are involved).

I'm surprised it was even legal to take a toddler to wineries, bars and breweries. Even if it is legal in your area, they are no place for a child.

It's really not surprising that the bonfire situation happened as by then Sue and Barry were used to the group filling in for them in them in the parental role, so why should this night be any different? Please don't think I'm blaming all the other guests for this situation occurring, but really, Sue and Barry had no reason to change their behaviour (on that night) because they hadn't been called on it prior to that.


bopper

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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2014, 09:21:48 AM »
You could have talked to the house owner and told them that they have to tell the parents that one of them has to remain with the baby since it could possible get out.

z_squared82

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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2014, 09:31:38 AM »
See, I have no problem with them leaving their child at the house without them on the night of the bonfire. The parents were still on the property. Iím sure my parents did something similar when my brother and I were young. What I do have a problem with is leaving the child and not closing the door to where she was sleeping, not making sure the gate to the pool has latched, and not making sure all the doors to the exterior were shut. (I wouldnít think as 18-month old would be tall enough to turn a door knob.) I mean, really, not checking those things is just irresponsible.

And I do have a problem leaving the entertaining of a child to other people for an Entire Week. And, really, I have a problem with them bringing the child all together as no one else had, especially if they were then going to mandate that the morning activities had to revolve around that singular child.

You really canít say anything to them now other than to explain why you were angry if they ask. I would not invite them on trips, or at least make sure they knew it was an adult-only trip and that Jane HAD to stay with a sitter.

MindsEye

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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2014, 10:01:12 AM »
Was the child actually invited... or did they just bring her?

I don't understand why no one stood up to them... why they rest of you didn't just go off and do something else in the mornings, or why no one spoke up and told them that you didn't want the child brought along to wineries, breweries, and bars?

I also don't understand why the hosts didn't speak up when their behavior was making you (and the other guests) uncomfortable.

What should you have done then?
Spoken up.  Told them to watch after their child. 
Not taken up the slack.  I hate to be cold, but not your child = not your problem.  Their child  = their problem.
Left.  Cut the vacation short.  Because frankly it doesn't sounds like you had a very good time, and that this couple was the cause of your not having a good time.

Going forward all I think that you can do is not invite them anywhere, avoid them at gatherings, and refuse to enable their disconnect by watching the child. 

Eden

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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2014, 10:08:11 AM »
I think, in a case like this, less hinting and a more direct approach could have been taken. The parents should have been told in no uncertain terms to get back to the house and look after their child.

Agreed.

I love them as people

Why? These so-called 'parents' sound like utterly vile people and I'd never socialise with them again. They don't care about their child, and they don't care about their friends, proven by their total disregard for the perilous situation they put the homeowner in should anything have happened to Jane whilst on the property.

I think that's unfair. Someone's stupidity or obliviousness do not mean they do not care for their child or their friends.

As far as looking after the child throughout the week, I think any one of the guests should have spoken up. The night of the bonfire, I agree with a previous poster that leaving the child in the house was no big deal, but not ensuring access to the pool was blocked was a huge deal. I'd probably have closed and locked it and then returned to the party pointing out that it had been open.

Moving forward I'd make clear when events are adult only and I'd specifically address the parents if they were not tending to their child. "The baby is fussy, please take care of it." "The baby won't leave me alone and I"m trying to do XYZ, please come take her." Etc.

JenJay

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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2014, 10:14:10 AM »
They knew they'd left their baby alone, and they knew others were bothered by it. They felt she was fine. I think if you'd have insisted they go back they would have refused and thought you were being dramatic (I don't agree, just saying how I think it would have played out). I don't think there's anything you could have said or done to change the situation. I probably would have been concerned enough that I would have left the fire and gone into the house too, and I would have been upset about it. I think the only thing you and the other friends can do is not invite them to places where you don't feel the baby will be safe (or don't want to end up feeling responsible for her safety) or specify a no-kids rule with future invitations if you think they'll respect it. We had one friend who brought their kids to everything. They'd walk in "We know you said no kids, but..." These were all coworker friends and there was a "get together outside of work" vibe, so we couldn't really kick them out (well we could but the awkwardness wouldn't have been worth it). It was frustrating.

As far as ending up playing babysitter you should come up with a few phrases to have handy. If Jane comes to you for something, tell her "You need to go ask your Mommy/Daddy." and then holler to them "Jane needs you to come (whatever)." If she wanders off or needs something, instead of getting up and seeing to it yourself, say something. "Do you realize Jane just went outside?", "Jane seems fussy. Does she need a nap/snack?" If they respond "Oh, yeah, you can (whatever)." say "Nice try but my kids aren't here for a reason, haha." Make light of it to avoid tension (unless you really need to be firm, then by all means go there!) but also be clear that no, you aren't there to babysit.

If I was the homeowner and I found out they left the child unattended AND left the doors unlocked/open AND left the pool accessible... that wouldn't go over well. I'd ask them to go back to the house and make sure she's absolutely safe and I probably wouldn't have them back until she was several years older and had taken swimming lessons. Parents can be as lax as they want at their own homes but if I had a pool there'd be strict rules.

cicero

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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2014, 10:34:57 AM »
With th3 bonfire/pool situation, I probably would have done the Same thing. Not that it was your responsibility, but I understand your visions of that child in the pool and you wanted to make sure she was safe since the parents weren't.

What else could you have done? Maybe stopped giving in throughout the trip; maybe like jenjay said - make Jane her parents responsibility instead of taking over. Certainly in the pool instance, the house owner should have spoken up.

Going forward, I would stop hanging out with them. Not because they insist on bringing a baby *everywhere* - as annoying as that is - but because they are neglectful parents and every outing with them causes you stress

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English1

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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2014, 10:50:02 AM »
An 18 month old should not be left alone in a house, pool or no pool. There's plenty of other dangers for an unattended toddler. Not to mention just waking up and being scared alone in a strange place.

The parents need to be told that she can't be left alone in the house. Either a parent stays in, or child comes out with them. (I used to take my son to all sorts of things, he'd sleep through it all, wrapped up well in a blanket, where we could keep an eye on him). If they don't agree, then they can't come at all.

But it's down to the house owners, not you.

esposita

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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2014, 11:06:07 AM »
I'm having a hard time imagining an 18 month old not being in a pack-n-play or crib of some kind. OP, did you ever go into their room and see their sleeping arrangements?