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Author Topic: "correcting" strangers?  (Read 3130 times)

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Kinseyanne

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"correcting" strangers?
« on: June 19, 2011, 06:37:54 PM »
Not sure if this is the appropriate spot but since it's been coming up at work, I figured this would be the best bet.

I am a nanny to four children: 2,3,4,6. I am also about 6 months pregnant with my first.  Now that the weather is nicer, we walk a lot.  They love being outside, I could use the exercise and fresh air.  We usually go to one of two parks, one with a nice sized play ground, one is more of an open field that is often used for kites or an unofficial dog park.  While we are there, I often get comments from people that think I'm the mom.  Mostly compliments, sometimes questions.  For example, last time we were at the fields, a dog slipped is collar and came running over to greet the six-year-old.  The owner quickly came over and caught the dog, but asked "did he scare your son?"

So nothing bad, and it's reasonable to think someone who is very pregnant, towing a line of children like a mother duck, might be the actual parent.  And since most of these people never see us again, usually I don't correct them because I don't see a point and I wouldn't want anyone to be embarrassed (imo) unnecessarily.  The problem I am now running into is that the 6-year-old is starting to catch these comments and has no problem correcting the person. 

Would it be better for me to say something at the time like "oh he's fine. He loves dogs and now he has a fun story to tell his parents when he gets home!" or roll the dice over whether or not he's going to correct them? 
Live believing dreams are for weaving.  Wonders are waiting to start.  Live your story: Faith, Hope and Glory.  Hold to the truth in your heart.

Harriet Jones

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Re: "correcting" strangers?
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2011, 07:05:05 PM »
If it's not someone you're going to have a continuing relationship, I don't think it's necessary to correct someone's assumption.

Nuala

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Re: "correcting" strangers?
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2011, 07:10:56 PM »
For the sake of the six-year-old, I would say something, but I would get to the "I'm not his mother" part faster.

"He's fine.  He'll love telling his parents about the dog he met at the park."

ShadesOfGrey

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Re: "correcting" strangers?
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2011, 10:57:26 AM »
I dont think it's necessary to correct strangers assuptions, generallly. 

If the kid does, as long as he does it politely, I dont see a problem with that either. 

so I just wouldnt worry too much about it overall.
Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning. - Maya Angelou

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. - Maya Angelou

Reuth

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Re: "correcting" strangers?
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2011, 11:05:33 AM »
I think it's OK to correct the assumption if you want to. But if you don't want to, don't. Just teach the child how to do it politely, and then if he chooses to say something, it will be fine.

jackmanifesto

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Re: "correcting" strangers?
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2011, 11:13:02 AM »
I have a friend who has 12 siblings (yes..12.) and is the 5th child at 20 years old, the youngest currently being 3.( by some miracle, the kids are all more or less spaced out by roughly 2 years and its interesting watching the different age groups interact with one another! :D) People VERY often confuse her or her older siblings as being the parents of the younger children when they are out and about.

My friend is very close to her youngest sister and brothers as she was the last oldest girl to leave home, and when they go for walks in the park or to run errands people always comment on how adorable HER children are. Since they are technically "her's" in a manner of speaking, just not her CHILDREN, she thanks the strangers and hustles the children away if possible.

One time, my friends mother and older brother were traveling to Cali. to be with his future wife's family for the engagement party they were throwing; at the time, the youngest was just a tiny bean sprout and needed mommy every two hours or so for a feeding and cuddles, so she got to come along! When they were going through the gate, the security officer asked them questions about whether my friends brother and her mother were married (  ;D the mother is actually quite young looking, so this was just a funny for everyone!) and when they said no, pointedly stared at the baby as if she was some sort of strange proof that they were lying. The mother; "she's his SISTER.  :-\".

Considering that these children aren't actually related to you though, I would probably just thank the passerby for their concern and let the children speak for themselves. If the 6 year old is now telling people that you aren't his mother, then it's probably safe to assume that the stranger will know that piece of information at some point during the interaction without you having to say a thing. Try playing off the children; if they correct the stranger, maybe lightly mention something about their parents. If they don't, then just be as brief and general as is appropriate.

Reuth

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Re: "correcting" strangers?
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2011, 11:38:16 AM »
When they were going through the gate, the security officer asked them questions about whether my friends brother and her mother were married (  ;D the mother is actually quite young looking, so this was just a funny for everyone!) and when they said no, pointedly stared at the baby as if she was some sort of strange proof that they were lying.

Wow, how was that any of his business??

jackmanifesto

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Re: "correcting" strangers?
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2011, 11:54:48 AM »
When they were going through the gate, the security officer asked them questions about whether my friends brother and her mother were married (  ;D the mother is actually quite young looking, so this was just a funny for everyone!) and when they said no, pointedly stared at the baby as if she was some sort of strange proof that they were lying.

Wow, how was that any of his business??

 It absolutely wasn't, but I think the initial line of questioning came from the fact that it was a man, a woman and a baby with the same last names all going through the gate together.

Like, "Mr YXZ and Mrs. YXZ- are you married?" "What? No, he's my son." *Awkward stare at baby* "She's his SISTER."

kherbert05

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Re: "correcting" strangers?
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2011, 04:47:42 PM »
Since the 6 yo is noticing, I would say something that shows you aren't the parent. Kids that age tend to be absolutists - if you don't say you aren't the parent then you are telling a lie.

I can remember my older niece correcting anyone that called my sister her mom (she is the stepmom).
Don't Teach Them For Your Past. Teach Them For Their Future

lisastitch

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Re: "correcting" strangers?
« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2011, 08:16:51 PM »
I might talk to the parents so that maybe all of you can talk about this with the 6yo.  People are assuming that you are his mother; you are not denying it; are you trying to become his mother?  Kids get funny ideas in their heads!  I think there are children who might be really bothered by this, and it may come out in an odd way at some point. 
For his sake, I would clarify that I am the nanny when someone mistakes you for his mother. 

Salvage3

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Re: "correcting" strangers?
« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2011, 09:33:30 AM »
Maybe, it is my age and the fact that I had experience with this in the past; but unless it's a point blank question, i.e. "Are all of these yours?", I would let it go.  The six-year-old may or may not remark; but what difference does that make?

This subject kind of came up recently when my former boss and I were reliving/reviewing the past.  Often, I had all of his children with me, and people would tell me how well-behaved my children were, etc.  I spent a lot of time with his wife and children when he was out of town, and I was their "aunt".  However, I don't remember any of them correcting a stranger to say I was not a parent at any age.

The one funny incident was with an attorney who had an office on the same floor of building as ours and who I ran into at the social club waiting for the older kids to finish swimming lessons.  I had an infant in my arms with two very small ones beside me.  This man clearly knew my age, etc. (relevant, as it would be impossible for me to have five children) and had known me for almost two years.  However, we visited for over a half hour while waiting, and he kept complimenting me on "my" children.  The older kids, when they joined us, thought it was hilarious, but they did not say anything to the other man.

Lynn2000

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Re: "correcting" strangers?
« Reply #11 on: June 24, 2011, 09:42:33 AM »
I might talk to the parents so that maybe all of you can talk about this with the 6yo.  People are assuming that you are his mother; you are not denying it; are you trying to become his mother?  Kids get funny ideas in their heads!  I think there are children who might be really bothered by this, and it may come out in an odd way at some point. 
For his sake, I would clarify that I am the nanny when someone mistakes you for his mother. 

POD to this and kherbert05. I don't think it's a big deal and I wouldn't bother to correct a stranger if no one else was around; but the 6-year-old seems to have some issue with it, so it would be good for his parents to weigh in and discuss it with him. Also, you don't want the 6-year-old suddenly yelling out, "SHE'S NOT MY MOTHER!!!" in the middle of the park and freaking everyone out. :)
~Lynn2000

JillyJ

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Re: "correcting" strangers?
« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2011, 03:06:42 PM »

POD to this and kherbert05. I don't think it's a big deal and I wouldn't bother to correct a stranger if no one else was around; but the 6-year-old seems to have some issue with it, so it would be good for his parents to weigh in and discuss it with him. Also, you don't want the 6-year-old suddenly yelling out, "SHE'S NOT MY MOTHER!!!" in the middle of the park and freaking everyone out. :)

My cousin used to do that to my sister all the time.  My sister was her nanny for the first 5 years of her life, and when she was about 4 she went through this phase where she thought it was hysterical to scream, "You're not my mommy" and run away from my sister whenever they were out at the store.  We have no idea where she picked it up, and luckily my sister was always able to roll her eyes and explain to people that she was her cousin, and no one ever questioned it.  But yeah, she got some awkward looks.  She's lucky no one ever called the police on her.

Luci

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Re: "correcting" strangers?
« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2011, 03:48:43 PM »
I would just say, "He seems to be fine, thanks. I'm the nanny,' if the child seems to think it is important.

This avoids awkward statements from the child that might put your authority in question to a stranger (That's not my Mom! Call the cops!). I also don't see any reason to make this an issue with parents except just in passing.

When I took my nephews out, it was not  a problem to just say, "Get this for Aunt Luci, please," or say directly to a stranger, "Thanks. I think he's cute, too. He is my nephew."

There is no reason for anyone to be embarrassed or feel chastised by a plain fact delivered clearly and politely with a smile.

Lynn2000

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Re: "correcting" strangers?
« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2011, 03:50:30 PM »
Actually, this sounds like a really good opportunity for the parents to talk to the six-year-old about appropriate behavior. For example, I think I went through some kind of phase when I really little when I thought it was hysterical to scream out, "Fire!" in a crowded place.  ::) Obviously the first time it happened my parents sat me down and gave me a stern talking-to about how there were some things that should not be said/yelled in public unless it was really happening--never as a joke or because I was mad, etc.. So this could be a good time for the parents to talk to the six-year-old about how yelling something like, "You're not my mom!" in public is not a good idea when the kid is with you; but should a stranger ever approach them, that is the PERFECT time to start yelling it.
~Lynn2000