05 November 2007

Dealing with Other People's Kids

You can't see it, but right now I have an amazon.com search open that looks something like this:

Books › "other people's children" › Family Relationships › Dysfunctional Relationships

As I near my twenty-eighth year I've come to realize I need to learn how to deal with kids. My Total Avoidance Strategy is flawed and increasingly impractical. So there you have it, step one, admitting there's a problem.

Now I've reached step two: ask for help. So I'm asking: HELP!!!

Why can't kids just ignore me, pretend I don't exist? I'd do the same with them and it'd be a win-win. Instead, it's the total opposite. I can see it in their eyes, "Oh boy, here's another adult to bother. Ooo, and this one's got long hair that I can yank on to get her attention."

I could only find one book on this particular subject. I thumbed through it at Border's, and unfortunately the author invested more time reveling in her own cleverness than presenting a viable battle plan for her readers.

Here's the kind of thing that happens to me:

On my last toddler encounter, I was drawn into the backyard (away from my dinner) on the pretense of a "bug hunt." As the tiny, sticky hand pulled me onto the porch I glanced helplessly at the other adults. They avoided eye contact and topped off their glasses of chardonnay.

On the outset, everything was fine. I'm cool with looking for bugs. Perhaps the little tyke is an aspiring entomologist and this foree will one day lead to a scientific discovery that kills all mosquitos everywhere forever. In that case, it would be worth letting my meal get cold.

We didn't find any ladybugs, worms, or pill bugs, so the next best thing (to a toddler) is apparently the dog's pooper scooper. I don't hate kids, okay? I tried to convinced the wee one to put down the feces-encrusted tool. When logic failed, ("the pooper scooper is ucky, okay?") I attempted to gently guide the pooper scooper back to its place alongside the house.

This, of course, brought forth tears and screaming. My instincts said "run" but, in the end I just put the pooper scooper out of reach and slumped my shoulders in defeat. Of course the screaming brought the parent running. It was embarrassing and irritating all at once.

I hate this kind of situation. I would rather be getting a cavity filled or having a pelvic exam.

Honestly, I think the main problem is that I'm too nice. This is the horrible dichotomy of the situation. Children make me very uncomfortable, but I can't tell a little kid to "get lost" because it would be impolite. I think kids know this - some kind of perverse instinct. They won't leave me a alone and worse, none of the adults will help me out. I feel like everyone else is thinking, "good, she's taking one for the team."

Also, why are kids so sticky? I've observed them at length, and even when no candy element is present, they manage to enstickify themselves. Do they make their own stickiness?

Okay, I digress. What I really need your help with is:

#1 How do I get toddlers to leave me alone?
Do I need to wear a t-shirt with a scary clown on it? Should I give kids the stinkeye whenever the parents aren't looking? Seriously, though, what do you do when the kid won't take "NOT RIGHT NOW" for an answer?

#2 How do I get out of a toddler encounter as quickly as possible? I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but I don't do babysitting. Never have, never will.

#3 If I get nabbed, and the kid starts misbehaving, what do I do? Come se dice "cease and desist" in kidspeak? Do I threaten to call Mom over?

Any help would be greatly appreciated... the holidays are coming, you know.