Picture the scene.
We're at a local attraction. My boys are playing with various bits and pieces. Luke in particular is enjoying himself playing with these toys. He is really enjoying it and wanting to play with all of the toys. So I step in and have a conversation with him about sharing and about how it is much fairer if all the children have one toy and then everyone can have a go. This conversation goes on for a while as we have to repeat the lesson many times, it is a difficult one to learn after all.
Another small boy steps in and grabs Luke's toy, meaning he now has two toys and Luke has none. Luke looks at me in anguish. He knows that he can't just grab it (good boy, although had I not been there he probably would have taken that exact action). But the little boy isn't giving it back. I wait for a little while but nothing seems to be happening. Luke is becoming a bit upset, his toy has been grabbed off him and not this boy has two and he has none and That Isn't Fair.
I take a deep breath and say to the boy, in a gentle, conversational tone
You've got two toys and this boy hasn't got any. Don't you think it is a good idea to give him one and then everyone will have one and that's fair.
Out of nowhere swooped the mother, hissing
If I want my child disciplined then I'll do it myself.
I really was taken aback. I mean I didn't really think that was disciplining him, I was just pointing out that he should be sharing the toys, particularly as he'd just grabbed one off Luke.
Having spent a few years in Bosnia, where the mantra really is 'It takes a village to raise a child' and where everyone disciplines everyone's children, I genuinely don't have a problem with other adults letting my children know that their behaviour is not acceptable. Often it isn't and I feel that having other people tell them that reinforces my message about how to behave.
Clearly there is a line that can't be crossed. I would have a problem with someone physically slapping the boys or really shouting at them. But a quiet word pointing out the error of their ways. Not the slightest bit of an issue.
I felt very angry with this woman. I felt that the message she was giving to her son was that it was OK to grab a toy and not to share it as long as he did it where she couldn't see it. I felt that she was telling him that he didn't need to listen to what another adult said, and wondered how that would translate for the little boy when he went to school.
What do other people think. I'm genuinely interested to know, did I overstep the mark? Obviously you only have my side of the story here, but was I out of line?