Etiquette Question

So we went to a kids’ concert thing today in The Dalles and Gus kept wanting to sit in all the other kids’ strollers. And in one or two cases I let him. If there weren’t things in the seat to disturb or if he didn’t stand on anything or get it dirty. Most of the time the parents weren’t there to ask. And now I’m thinking that it was bad that I let him without permission. Right? What do you think?

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20 thoughts on “Etiquette Question

  1. In cases like this, I would ask myself whether I would object if some random kid came and sat in my child’s stroller and if the answer is no, I think it’s likely that it’s okay. There is no certainty but the odds are it’s okay. It’s a Golden Rule kind of thing. Once when a neighbor kid was gone and Jake wanted to borrow the bike in the other kid’s front yard, I asked him if he would object to the other kid borrowing his bike, if the tables were turned. He said he wouldn’t mind so I thought it was okay. We humans are so much more alike than we are different. That’s why something very similar to the Golden Rule is found in all major religions and spiritualities. It’s not a guarantee but then there aren’t many.

  2. Boy, I don’t know. I see both sides. So when in doubt, I probably would not allow E to sit in another child’s stroller.

  3. I guess I would say that, when in doubt, if you don’t have someone to ask, I would say no. Probably most people wouldn’t mind if you asked them first, but I think a lot of people would mind if it was done without asking.

  4. I would think it a little wierd if I came back to see some kid sitting in our stroller, and probably agree that it is a permission thing.

  5. The answer, at least in the USA, is probably not to let the kid sit in other people’s strollers. Not because it is bad in itself but because Americans are pretty uptight about possessions.

    “Oh my GOD, some little toddler is sitting in OUR baby’s stroller!”

    “What will we do to recover from this travesty?”

  6. I’m in the “won’t-let-Louis-into-other-kids’-strollers-without-permission” camp only because I don’t want to deal with pissed-off moms.

    I’ve had a few run-ins with touchy mothers in Sydney and I’m wary of provoking any more weird rages.

    But if some kid did it to our stroller, I wouldn’t care.

  7. Jake, given that we can legally carry firearms everywhere here, including to tense political events, it seems obvious that our response would be to shoot ’em and ask questions later.

  8. I agree, especially if your kid is a half-breed foreign type…..can’t trust those southern hemisphere types with poor taste in root beer.

  9. Thanks everyone, I figured that was the case. I actually felt that certainty just as I was writing the post. And wish I could hunt down the parents and apologize for not asking first. I think that’s the key. Because by just assuming, I’m not respecting their things and I’m not giving them the chance to share. I’m not even sure how cool I’d be if it were our stroller depending on my mood.

    The whole sharing thing is interesting when it comes to the kids too. We ask them to hand over their toys all the time to other kids in a way we’d never do. And yet, the idea of not teaching them to share is horrible. I actually saw two dads teaching their 18 month sons to ‘take it away from him’ and ‘hold on, don’t let him have it’. This was a friendly exchange -in the tone of the more often heard ‘ok sweety, let him have a turn now.’ I’d love to live in a community where we could borrow the neighbors’ bikes.

    And Lex, I’ll second that with Sydney. Gus was oogling a brightly colored bike in the play area at Rushcutters -not sitting on it, mind you just admiring (ok, maybe touching the seat) -when a woman walked up and took it away from us and carried it to the other side. Maybe it wasn’t meant that way, but it felt really odd. Maybe it’s like how it’s not cool to sit on the hood of someone else’s car.

  10. Would you think it odd to get on a public bus and hand Gus off to the peson sitting next to you because you have your hands full with bags and stuff? Because that happened to me several times while living in Uzbekistan. I kept thinking how this would never happen in the super uptight precious snowflake atmosphere of the West.

  11. When we got to Berlin, the S-Bahn (think subway) wasn’t running and we tried to take a cab to our hostel. No go without a car seat. So our only option was the bus, which, because of the S-Bahn chaos was PACKED. I had on a huge backpack and was carrying a diaper back and Maddie. Leigh was carrying his own backpack, our stroller (mostly compact) and another small, but full, backpack. All the while Maddie was crying and screeching because she was tired, hot, and very uncomfortable. Probably hungry, too.

    There was a young woman on the bus who kept making faces at Maddie and gushing about her cuteness. Finally she put out her hands to take Maddie from me and, while I hesitated, I also relented. This was a perfect stranger and we were in a strange, non-English speaking country (meaning that I couldn’t really communicate easily if something went wrong), but we were so miserable that I needed that relief of one less thing to carry. Plus it made Maddie very happy for at least the few minutes when she wasn’t being squished by all of my bags. I don’t know if I would do it in the US. But Europe was just to kid-friendly.

    I think it’s great, Jake, that there are places where people trust strangers to take care of their children, even for just a few minutes.

    Emily, when it comes to the dads, I wonder sometimes, though, if what they were after was a sideways way of trying to teach them not to just let someone take something away. I know, still, that is, in a way, teaching them not to share and it teaches them to place a lot of importance on such impermanent objects. But at the same time, there’s such a balance between allowing giving freely and being forced to give?? If that makes sense. I mean, I know we’re talking 18 month olds who don’t necessarily understand the finer points of this, but I know I cringe when I see Maddie trying to take away a toy that someone else is using and I try to give it back and tell her that the other child was playing with it and she can have a turn later. No one wants to have their child bullied and we do need to teach them to stand up for themselves, but I’m not sure when that’s appropriate (at what age or in what circumstances) because sometimes it’s graceful to just give as a thing is being taken instead of fighting for it.

    But who knows maybe the dads were just being overprotective and selfish. I know I would be a little put off if I heard another parent saying those things.

  12. Amanda, I think that was part of it. Both the dads and the kids were friends. But the other part was where they were coaching one of them to ‘take it, take it from him’ and ‘pull harder’ : )

  13. It’s really sad to me that these kids are learning that kind of lesson (to be aggressive in getting “what’s yours”) so young. Like I said, a little bit of self-protection isn’t a bad thing, but at a certain point it turns into a battle of wills and leads to unnecessary violence or posturing. The better lesson and one that is much more nuanced is to learn when to just be gracious and move on to a different toy that will bring you just as much joy.

    But a lot of times when we’re letting our kids do things or trying actively to teach them something, we really don’t think it through and the lesson we teach them is much worse than we intended. Partially that’s because we maybe haven’t thought it through or maybe it’s a lesson we’re still learning ourselves and the way to go about it isn’t clear to us in the first place.

    Really good discussion because it leads to a lot of different places.

  14. I remember I learnt an early lesson about sharing when I was about 3. I was in hospital for a bad asthma attack and was there for a few days. Mum and Dad had brought in some of my toys (raccoon, penguin, etc) to help it feel more like home. I felt sorry for the kids in the room who were there without any toys and of my own accord I shared them around. I was quite proud of myself that everyone was feeling happier in the room (what a nut was I!!). I can distinctly remember NOT being allowed to take them back again when I went home! Mum and Dad were worried that the other kids in the respiratory unit had some nasty illness that might have infected the toys! I was very sad and a bit angry but remember thinking that at least the other kids were happy. I think I might have been a bit more reluctant to share after that! Sniff, moan.

    I was recently looking after a friend’s son who was about 2 at the time. He is a big boy and does not have any real good concept of sharing or that’s not yours. He has rather assertive parents who don’t seem to respect other people’s space too well. He wanted to play on a car toy and so this other Dad took his son off it with the message that everyone deserves a turn and we will play on something else. J jumped on but then wouldn’t share for anyone else. If fact when another boy wanted a turn he shoved him out of the way really roughly, making the kid cry. I explained how he would have to share like someone had done for him but he wasn’t having a bar of it!. He then practically belted the other boy when he tried again, hurting him. I was mortified at the other kid’s distress and immediately lifted J off and took him away – he became hysterical. I actually earned more stares from other parents for telling him no and his resulting hysterics rather than his bullying behaviour, which surprised me. It did show me however that it can be hard to teach this lesson if a kid has been allowed to get away with this from the start.

    That’s my 2 cents worth – probably all it is worth!

  15. I’m not a parent but am obsessive compulsive and if another kid was in my Niece’s pram I’d be thinking swine, lice, snot and have to buy her a new pram!! And I’d probably give the old pram to the kid. But that’s just me!! Nic 🙂

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