Look up "tattletale" in the dictionary and it is defined as one who tattles (really?) or better yet, an "informer". Word on the street is that tattletale is the little narc who tells the principal you and all your girlfriends skipped class. But since I am long past the days of skipping class (who me?) and Narc sounds like a Quentin Tarantino movie, I will opt for informer if I have to pick.
Let's talk about this. Long before I had a munchkin, my mantra was "Why be a busybody". Listen, we know a woman nicknamed Mrs. Roper because, well there are many similarities, but primarily because she is a highly active busybody. Matters not if she saw it or heard of it tenth hand, she is the local town crier. And that? Well, thats just not nice.
Now that I do have a little bitty, might I look at certain things in a new light? Of course. Here's how it goes down.
I come up with what I think is a smashing idea for an early Saturday morning. I am so persuasive, I convince JohnnyMac it is a good idea too. We have a energetic munchkin, rain, and a deep need to expend energy. Why not go to a super fun inflatable playground to let him run wild. You may know these places. Some are called Jumpin Jamboree, Jump Planet, JumpZone, 321 Bounce, or Monkey Joes. Since the goal of my storytelling is not to write disparagingly of any specific entity by name, let's call the place we actually visit "Funky Flo's".
Funky Flo's was a dream come true the first time we went. Our turkey gets up e-a-r-l-y so we found ourselves at Funky Flo's as the doors opened one Saturday morn. Not a soul in sight. He was too little for some of the "bounce houses" but there was a special one specifically for rascals under two. He wasn't quite sure what to make of it but believe me, he got over his stage fright, fast. Visit one turned into numerous other visits and we thought we struck gold. Until the day we went and it was "birthday party day" filled with endless kids, not being watched by their parents, and truly running amok. That's fine, we told ourselves, we will just keep an eye on him. Most of the kids just want to have fun.
And then we took an ugly turn. I realized birthday party day was great unless your child is two, and you want them to survive. I know our man is going to get some bumps along the way but when I saw our guy take a tumble, and another boy was holding him down with his foot, while his mother stood there yapping about scrapbooking to her friend, I can't say I liked that too well. We also know he is going to get some bruises. I just prefer them not at the hands of eight year olds. A few times I have heard a parent remind their child to be careful of the littlest kids, and I was grateful to hear it. It is rare...oh is it rare.
This particular Saturday was a school type outing and we felt like we walked into the vortex of a cyclone. I didn't even know the poor 20 something's gainfully employed at Funky Flo's had whistles to blow in case things get out of hand. We knew that day when we heard that whistle, no less than ten times in an HOUR. Boys were fighting, girls were screaming, and Johnny Mac and I were looking for the exit. But you know who loved it? Our little man. So we braved the chaos and cursed under our breath. We realize Funky Flo's is a inflatable babysitter for many guests. Good to know.
And then two boys, about ten years old, got in a fight amidst all the whistle blowing, and our little bird got marginally in the fray. UGH. What to do?
Since there was not a parent in sight who would either claim offspring OR attend to flying fists, an urge came over me. I admit it. I quelled it but it whispered louder and louder Rat Them Out. Ohhhh, the desire to "inform"! But I resisted. JennyMac the Informer has more of a clang to it than a ring.
We have been told by veteran parents you are never to scold another person's child directly. And I see the value in it less I cause a "little league beating riot" like covered all too frequently in the newspapers. So I did the next best thing, I said "no fighting boys" in my most pleasant high pitch falsetto as I whisked my young one out the quagmire. Then I wrangled one of those 20 something employees and whispered "Can you please do something about this?" And he laughed and said "this is mild." Good grief. He was experienced which made it all the easier to pass the buck.
I was surprised I didn't tell him about the boys spraying water all over the wall by holding down the spigot to the drinking fountain. Or the dozen kids without socks on. Yuck. (Why the bare feet bother me more than the sneezing and lord knows what germs being passed hand to hand, who knows). Again, I hesitated to "inform". I am sure there will be plenty of time in the future where I will not hesistate a bit. I am sure our son will be only marginally mortified so I will keep it at bay as long as possible.
Let me tell you what some morning at Funky Flo's look like: Disproportionate number of Dads, most of them sitting in chairs watching television while their kids expend energy. Perfect. I am sure Mom was glad to have the break. However, when your teenage boy, sans socks, is running over my son, perhaps you would like to intervene. Listen, I'm no Prissy Pants. I played sports my entire life and have the scars to prove it. When my son is ready for tackle football, I will be driving him to practice. But he is TWO. Two year olds get a parental referee.
However, while Funky Flo's remains one of our child's favorite things to do (he asks....multiple times a week to go) we can only hope he forgets all about it. When he gets a bit sturdier, maybe we will be clamoring for a place to take him where we don't have to be engaged, but I doubt it. And the idea he will forget about it soon? Highly unlikely. If we even drive down the road that leads to the road it is on, he knows.
We will continue to go, you know we will. Listening to him giggle repeatedly as he bounces down the back of an inflatable alligator is priceless. I also know that since I don't work there, I don't get a whistle, and I can't be at the counter each visit tattling on children, can I?
No. So, JohnnyMac and I will continue to laugh and say in disbelieving tones "are you kidding me" and know, as all of our more veteran friends know, this is ONLY the beginning.