Don't be a tattletale!
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Don’t be a tattletale

Don't be a tattletale!I was at the playground the other day and heard a child telling another that they were a tattletale.  This is one of those negative labels that adults pass on to children without thinking about the consequences.  And I feel it’s one of the most harmful lessons we can teach our children.

We wouldn’t encourage our children to use the words stupid or jerk (or much worse terms), so why do we teach them that it’s okay to use words like tattletale and liar?  I think it’s because we feel they are descriptive of actual flaws that we want to discourage~ mainly putting your nose in other people’s business and lying.  But let’s forget the fact that adults shouldn’t be teaching children negative labels and names to call one another.  There is something so much more insidious about the word tattletale.

It implies that you should only be concerned about things that affect you directly, everything else is another person’s business and you should stay out of it.  The other message is that you should’t tell on other people.  Essentially it’s okay to hide information.

“It’s not my business” is a giant flaw in our society as a whole.  Children, women and animals are mistreated and continue to be mistreated because people turn a blind eye.  Society often chooses to be blind to pollution issues, addictions, metal illnesses, abuse, racism, gender equality, and this list goes on and on and on.  I am trying to teach my child to be observant, and active, and involved.  We all need to be breaking out of this harmful practice of isolation.  Technology increasingly enables us to live a solitary existence under the mistaken belief that “internet connections” are the same as physical connection.  I don’t want to raise a child that lives online and needn’t be concerned about or get involved with her immediate neighbours and community.  We live in an amazing community simply because people are involved and care.

More importantly I want my child to communicate with me.  I want her to always feel she can share anything with me.  If someone is doing “something wrong” I WANT to know, because that “something” could be inappropriate touching or worse.  I’m trying to keep an open dialogue so that they will come to me, even if they are unsure if what is happening is bad or their fault. And I especially don’t need teachers (and yes, I’ve definitely heard teachers telling students not to be tattletales) working against my efforts.  Teachers are often an adult that children will approach if they need to talk about abuse.  Pushing kids away cuts off that line of communication.  And we need to keep all lines open!

I understand the concept that is trying to be imparted~ you do not need to tell on someone every time they do something that is outside the rules.  Not everything needs to be reported.  We don’t want a “Big Brother” society; however, children have a hard time defining the nuances that this lesson implies.  That comes with maturity and so we all need to be very careful when we throw around these seemingly simple labels and lessons.

If you give a child a rule and they report someone breaking that rule then why are we getting so frustrated?  The issue really is that adults don’t want to spend the time communicating properly with children.  We don’t want to enforce every rule, we don’t want to explain why it is okay that “Jimmy is doing X”, and we would rather put the blame on the child and basically tell them to shut up.

It is a lazy way out of what could be a more meaningful conversation.  When you say to a child “don’t be a tattletale!” you are essentially telling them that you don’t want to hear what they have to say.  Don’t talk to me because I’m not listening.  Don’t tell me what that person is doing because it’s not your business.  The rules don’t apply to everyone equally.  You are wrong.

None of the lessons behind the word tattletale are lessons I want my child to learn.

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strollers and other ways parents make the world about them and their offspring

Babies seem to often bring out the best and worst in people.  The best being the sheer amount of love and care a child can elicit from an adult, and the worst being a self-centered attitude about being a parent.  That somehow you deserved to be first in line, take up more space, and can inconvenience others because you happen to have a baby with you.

And strollers seem to epitomize this notion.  The fact is that you really don’t need a stroller for the first few months.  Anyone who uses carriers/slings etc. will tell you how much simpler it is to use them.  And then once they start to get a bit heavier a simple umbrella stroller is often the most used option over the snooty giant “travel system.”

Anyways, travel devices aside, where I get really frustrated with parents’ lack of respect for others is on transit and most of the time it involves a stroller.  It has ticked me off for years and I have no intention of holding back on this rant.

Daily I see parents get on the TTC and 90% if them with children under 3 infuriate me with their lack of respect for the general population.  It’s like the only people that exist are them and their darling little angel… who is often screaming their face off.  Here are the parental sins I see them make:

– kids sit for free!  Though you have no stroller (kudos to you for leaving it at home!) you give your child a seat on the rush hour bus that is packed to the brim with tired adults who have worked all day.  Why does this tick me off?  Well, firstly you’ve paid either $0 or a significantly reduced rate for the child to ride tranist, while I have paid $3.  Shouldn’t paying customers get seats first?  Secondly, your child can run around a playground for about 7 hours at a stretch so I’m assuming they have the energy to stand or could, as my mother insisted, sit on your lap.  I didn’t get a seat until I was about 10!  Thirdly, when someone elderly, disabled or otherwise in need of a seat boards, your brat SHOULD MOVE.  No questions.

– the double stroller.  Oh how I hate you giant stroller, and oh how I hate your owner for thinking this is the kind of device you should take anywhere except to the park for a walk.  These beasts are too wide for most sidewalks around the city, for bringing into shops and definitely for transit vehicles.  Leave them at home.  Better yet, don’t even buy one.

– the double stroller- but different 😉  This is the day (at least once a week) where 2 parents board each with a stroller.  And what do they do?  Park themselves and their carriages right at the front door of the bus/streetcar, ensuring that they have sat on either side of the aisle so as they can most effectively barricade the entire entry way.  This basically means that people are almost vaulting over the damned things just to get on the bus.  And what are the general reactions from these oblivious parents.  Well it’s on of two options.  Parent A gives out paltry weak ‘i’m sorry’s to each person they trip with their stroller and Parent B glares at everyone who give them a dirty look as if it’s not their fault they can’t figure out how to hurdle strollers.

– the empty stroller is my absolute biggest peeve.  The parent who not only needs help lifting their stroller onto the bus, but the kid isn’t even in it!  This is the person who makes every effort to look overwhelmed by their burden so as some hard working stiff eventually give up their seat.  At which point they plop their child on it and proceed to block the aisle with themselves and their stroller.  Why do strollers even fold up at all?  When is the last time you ever saw anyone use this function?

– the shopping cart.  This is the parent who gets on with a stroller so laden with baggage that the warranty on the stroller are voided.  And did I mention that it’s got shopping bags hanging off the handles making it twice as wide as normal?

That’s the list of sins you can commit while travelling with a child.  Oh, and all you baby carrying and other courteous parents out there~ don’t think I never see you.  I do, and you’re awesome.  It’s just not terribly interesting to talk about people who have a conscience and think of others 😉