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Author Topic: Not sure what I should have done  (Read 24807 times)

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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #45 on: April 25, 2014, 06:00:16 PM »
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. I’m 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 wouldn’t think as 18-month old would be tall enough to turn a door knob.) I mean, really, not checking those things is just irresponsible.
You'd think so, but even very young children can be more inventive than you would believe.  My grandson got out of his parents' apartment at about that age; he had to drag a chair over to the door in order to reach the deadbolt and chain.  After that, the actual door-opening was easy.  A neighbor found him and knew where to return him, fortunately, so they didn't have the police and CPS involved.  They were asleep -- it was 6am on a Saturday morning, and they had no reason to think that their son wasn't safe in his crib where they'd left him.  The little monkey had used a stuffed toy in order to climb out of the crib.  Yeah, that toy stayed in the toy box the next time DD put her son to sleep.   
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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #46 on: April 25, 2014, 07:47:04 PM »
Hi, OP here.

Thanks so much everyone. So many responses and so much to think about. I can't address everyone individually but I do send general thanks and true appreciation.

A bit of background that I really don't think is pertinent but may be interesting to you.

We are not a family group but a long term friendship group. It formed in the city we are all from in high school and university. They've been friends for between 15-25 years depending on the individuals. Mostly they are between 32-35 years old. I'm a bit older at 38 and am a late comer to the group having been with BF for only 5 years. John moved up to the farm to be with Gina about 2 years ago. It's about 8 hours drive away from the city where the rest of us live. John is best friends with Barry and has been for 25 years. Some have children (mostly very young) and some are just starting to and some (like BF) probably won't have children. I'm the odd one out with a teenager.

John is lonely up at the farm and has been begging the rest of us to come up to visit. That the visit of so many happened at the same time was not organised. It was a coincidence. There were two long weekends after each other and we all ended up deciding to go up there separately. No real invites just a general invitation. Jane was welcome and expected. But nothing had been organised. Until we got there we had expected to go off on our own most days and then get back together in the nights. Barry and Sue changed that and we went along with their plans mostly.

One day BF and I did get up early and go to do our own thing as there was a walk I wanted to do that was not child friendly. Sue was quite upset about that but I did insist as I needed time out.

I had no problem with Jane at the wineries, breweries and bars, they were adult activities but not adult places. Not rough loud or places that children weren't welcome. One winery had an enormous hedge maze.

I noticed a suggestion that maybe the friends were disrupting Jane from quiet play on her own. She had a small bucket of toys but wasn't really playing with them on her own. When she did we left her alone. She would pull at her parents legs and arms until they'd pick her up and hug her, they'd then turn her around, put her down and send her on her way. She would then walk around the house crying or just making noise, or pulling stuff out and throwing it. If we suggested that they should play with her or watch her, they'd start fighting over who's turn it was or send her over to the other one. We should have said something. I know we should have. But I felt so sorry for her, and the noise was giving me a headache so I just started playing with her and so did everyone else and it sort of snowballed from there.

The house was not at all child proof and I am not exaggerating. She had to be watched at all times in the living areas. That was John's decree. There were also two dogs that were not acclimatised to children and one did get a little snappy at Jane. I had medicines in my room as did one of the other women. There were household chemicals in low cupboards and knives on benches. Down the corridor, through a door, was the garage which had the farm chemicals and so on until John rebuilds the outdoor shed. Not a safe unsupervised environment. Jane could open the doors, I saw her do it to get into the music room to play the piano. She could just reach up and turn the door knobs. I also saw her climb out of the porta-cot.

Barry and Sue have had a hard time lately and I don't think they are coping well. I think they saw the holiday as a time to relax and took it a little too far. Normally they are a bit better but still lazy. They keep Jane fed, clothed and clean. As to why we are friends with them, Barry would give you the shirt off his back if he thought you needed it and probably even if you didn't. He's smart, fun and generally a nice guy. Sue is a little difficult at times but she is also a good person and comes as a package deal with Barry.

I'm not angry with them today. I'm over it. I'll watch them and make sure I'm a good friend/surrogate aunt to Jane. BF and I discussed it this morning and we are going to offer Barry and Sue more support with Jane and more time out to help them cope better, so Jane knows she is treasured and loved and Barry and Sue don't break under the stress.

Thanks again.


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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #47 on: April 25, 2014, 08:09:39 PM »
I have two step sons, both married with one child each. Jack and Jill have a son and Ward and June have a daughter. Family weekends are difficult because Jill is a much more supervisory parent than June. Jill is always dropping hints to imply that June's parenting is subpar, but to me, it is a more a difference in styles. Jill comes across to me as judgemental, but I do try not to let my opinions show to the girls.

I agree that safety concerns are a different realm, and the pool would be an issue. But I also think that making an issue out of someone's parenting style is asking for conflict.


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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #48 on: April 25, 2014, 08:16:31 PM »
I have zero issue with a child being taken to a winery or a bar - especially as others have suggested, if they are restaurants with a focus on their alcohol and also agree that they can be a great place for lunch or a picnic.

I am surprised however at the number of posters that would have zero issue with a child being 300m away from them, out of sight and hearing in a strange place, with or without the pool issue.

It's a strange place, you are relying on the sensibility of others (closing doors etc) but are just taking that at face value and not even checking! The Op clearly said she sat there listening out for the child for a few hours and they didn't check on her once in that time! I also didn't read anything about them having a baby monitor - providing they cover a distance of 300m which i'm not sure about.

Sure, you might know your child really well and know that they sleep through the night etc etc but in this strange place, are you sure? (General You throughout)

I agree with others who said the host had obligations here too. If he was worried about being held liable if anything happened to the child and the unfenced pool then he should have fenced the pool or insisted the parents monitor their child more closely.

I do not think Op over reacted at all. But I do agree that being absolutely upfront and not hinting was a more effective way and that the host had a role to play here.


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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #49 on: April 25, 2014, 09:44:27 PM »
The person who had standing to protest most I believe is the host.  If John was uncomfortable with the idea of a child being left in his house without supervision, he should have (and would have had the strongest position to) said something.  "ParentofChild,  I'm not comfortable with a child being left alone in the house when there is no supervision.  If you think she can handle sleeping out here where you can watch her, that is fine, but otherwise one of you needs to stay with her."

To be honest, I think anyone seeing a child in legitimate danger has standing, as a human being, to protest. And an unattended, accessible pool is a legitimate danger. Even children watched reasonably closely can be at serious risk around a pool.

I agree, but when it comes down to it, the only person with the authority to force them to comply is the host. OP could have told them they should supervise, but if the parents refuse, there's not much she can do aside from going in herself to supervise. The host on the other hand can make it a condition of them being guests on his property.


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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #50 on: April 25, 2014, 09:58:52 PM »
It's amazing the details you don't include (otherwise your post is a novel) that do turn out to be relevant, at least to some.  Maybe not to others.  ;D

This house seems largely unsafe as a whole.  I have never stayed anywhere where I didn't know the people well enough that I could cover baby-proofing measures.  This house seems so unsafe and so difficult to baby proof all the way around, I don't think I would even consider overnights, let alone long-term vacationing.  That is no vacation.  That's plopping your child into a death trap.  My DD was into everything.  Turns out in her teens she has ADHD and it's "severe" and "genetic" and I guess that would explain things.  I am ever so grateful of other adults who would make accommodations for my kids and help out, but in no way was I ever that inattentive.  It sounds like with this throw-together, the toddler presented some pretty big obstacles no one was prepared for.  Live and learn.

As far as distance, some of us are really impaired on measurements.  I have no clue what 500 yards is, 300 meters, or 6 inches.  It's a mystery.  I know my comfort zone with my child, which may seem loose for some, strict for others.  If you ask me how far away?  Not a clue.  Do you think 100 yards?  Mmmm...maybe??  What's 100 yards?  It's a brain-block.  Can't explain it.  A previous poster said 500 yards, that is apparently four football fields, so I wonder if they meant 500 feet...I'm guessing.  Not sure.  What is 500 feet? 


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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #51 on: April 25, 2014, 10:04:30 PM »
Putting my .02 in as saying I don't really see the big deal about taking a kid to a vineyard/winery. I remember going to one as a teen or preteen and I vaguely remember sitting out at a picnic table under a pavilion having a Diet Coke and chatting with my folks. I had no interest in wine at that point and honestly was kinda bored but there was no harm in being there and my brother and I were well behaved.

I remember going to wineries and breweries as a kid, around 9 or 10. I loved seeing the process, the huge brewing vats, the cellars, etc. Then, after the visit, we would all sit out, my parents would enjoy a glass of wine, my sister and I would have grape juice or something else to drink. Many had outdoor play spaces for kids, too. I see nothing improper in that.

The problem I have with children at wineries is their parents at the tasting area, the children blocking access to other adults to taste the wine.  I don't mind them at the winery, but I do mind them being in the tasting  area preventing adults from tasting wine.    That is the reason I go to a winery.    There is no reason for two parents and three kids to be at the tasting area especially blocking others from tasting. 


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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #52 on: April 26, 2014, 02:18:06 AM »
You are incorrect. It is not acceptable to leave an 18 month old child alone in a house. There was a serious incident in our area, where a young couple were living in a small home on the grandparent's farm. The young couple, parents of the child, were in the main house using the computer, when the child, alone in the smaller house,  was severely injured. The child was taken away from the parents, an aunt was given custody, and they never got her back. A child old enough to walk can get out of a crib and get into trouble.


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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #53 on: April 26, 2014, 07:09:06 AM »
300 meters are 984 feet or 328 yards.  The length of the playing surface of a football field is 120 yards (100 yards for in-bounds playing and an additional 10 yards on either side in the end zones).  An average city block in Manhattan is 264X900 feet.  The distance from the house to the bonfire area was over the length of a city block in Manhattan.

IMO this is too far away for parents to be from their 18 month old child.  Add in a strange un-baby-proofed home and an unlocked pool gate and it could be a disaster waiting to happen. 

OP you did the right thing by going back to the house.  I commend you for your actions and common sense.

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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #54 on: April 26, 2014, 08:08:29 AM »
Another way of describing that distance is that it's about a three-minute brisk walk.  Longer over uneven terrain.

I generally tend to trust parents to know when it's OK to leave their particular sleeping kid in a particular place while they socialize nearby, but these circumstances are far beyond my personal range of OK.  I probably would have told the parents I wasn't comfortable and directly asked that one of them go back to the house.


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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #55 on: April 26, 2014, 10:21:02 AM »
Goodness, have these people never heard of Madeline McCann? I'm totally not the fearmongering type (or the maternal type, come to think of it), but that story still made my skin crawl, StarFaerie.

Firstly I think as John was the person who could have been held liable had anything happened to Jane, he should have been the one to speak up and say something and he should have made it clear in no uncertain terms that one of them was to supervise their child. Although perhaps he didn't know the pool gate was open until you got back to the house, I don't know.

They would never be getting another invite to my home either.


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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #56 on: April 26, 2014, 10:36:33 AM »
I would go to a bonfire with a sleeping child in a house I was familiar with if I could easily see the house and/or had a baby monitor and I knew the baby couldn't get out of the crib. 

In this situation, no way.

The only thing I want to add is that John really should have a pool fence regardless of whether or not he has friends who are irresponsible parents.  Where I live a pool barrier is required, whether or not you have children.  You can't be too careful with pools.


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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #57 on: April 26, 2014, 11:51:06 AM »
The update and the info about how far away they were from the house completely changes things for me.

The background on their attitude about playing with her makes me really sad, and I think that I'd have done the same as you did, including being visibly angry about the pool thing, which would have just been the final straw. There's a difference between "laid-back" parenting and "pshh, whatever" parenting.

Thank you for the update, OP, it offers a lot of insight into what was going on.


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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #58 on: April 26, 2014, 12:49:11 PM »
I agree, that distance sounds really far.

I know that the times my kids were little and I hung out near where they were sleeping, I was really grateful for the other people who kept me company, even if only for a little bit.

I suppose someone in the OP's position could say, "Shouldn't one of you be closer to the house? Maybe you can take turns. I'll keep you company for a while," and even say to someone else, "I'm back at the bonfire from keeping the mom company; why don't you go up and hang out with her for a while?"

I think that's sort of what friends do when their friends have kids. You adapt a little, so that you don't effectively abandon them.


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Re: Not sure what I should have done
« Reply #59 on: April 26, 2014, 02:43:08 PM »
Yes, but wineries and breweries are specific places for specific things involving alcohol. Malls and restaurants have wider ranges of interests so generally speaking it's not unusual to see children at them.

There's an assumption there that several of us disagree with. The assumption is that it's wrong to have children in a place that is specifically about alcohol.

I have no qualms about seeing children at a winery -- I've taken my own sons to several over the years.
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