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Much Ado About Nothing?

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Dear Annie: My wife and I recently had several relatives over for a family gathering. During the evening's events, my 10-year-old nephew threw a tantrum and threatened to hurt my 1-year-old son. He said, "If someone doesn't get him off of me, I am going to throw him." I called for my son to come to me, hoping that my sister would correct her son's behavior. But my son didn't move, and my nephew said again, "Someone get him off, or I will throw him off."

I removed my son from the situation and hoped my nephew's parents would intervene, but they didn't. My wife and I talked about the situation afterward, and, being new parents, we were not sure what to do. Our conclusion was that the safety of our son is primary, and we do not want anyone threatening him in our home.

Before the next family gathering at our home, we sent an invitation to my sister with the caveat that this behavior is not acceptable, saying if her son threatens ours during one of his tantrums, they would be asked to leave. She proceeded to blame my wife and me for the fracas.

Since this conversation, my sister has been very divisive with my parents and their interaction with my son, carrying a sour mood with her to other family events. Were we wrong in making it clear that this behavior is not acceptable? How do we address my sister's behavior? Are we being overprotective? — Concerned Parents

Dear Parents: You are not overprotective, but we're going to ask the obvious: Why was your son on top of your nephew, and why didn't you remove him sooner? Your nephew did not, in fact, hurt the boy, throw him off or do anything other than yell for assistance. That is when you, the parents, should have immediately removed your son in order to protect him. We're not sure what you expected your nephew to do. He may be much older than your toddler, but he is still a child.

As for your sister, you cannot dictate someone else's behavior. Either invite her or don't, although you certainly can set rules in your own home about what behavior you will tolerate. But we hope you will use your nephew's presence as an opportunity to teach him, gently and lovingly, how to behave around your son. Encourage him to be the boy's protector instead of his competition.

Dear Annie: Could you please perform a public service about smart phones? Some people behave as if the planet belongs to them alone. They should know that (a) nobody wants to hear your personal conversation at ear-splitting volume in a public place, and (b) if you are texting while on a sidewalk, stairwell or other public thoroughfare, please lift your head and watch where you are going. Others are under no obligation to clear a pathway for you. — Irritated

Dear Irritated: We've heard plenty of stories about people who are so absorbed in their texting while crossing the street that they don't notice the car coming right at them. Or they walk into walls and trip over dogs. Also, too many people think they have to shout into a cellphone, when they are perfectly audible (and much easier on the ears) at a lower volume. But of course, the worst offenders never think you mean them. We hope they see this and shape up.Dear Annie: I'd like to add to your answer to "Bound, Gagged and Furious," who was the victim of a home invasion. Although she and her friend seem to be taking it in stride now, it would be perfectly normal for them to have some lingering trauma after the adrenaline and attention have subsided.

People routinely seek counseling for less intense events. I think they'd benefit from a couple of sessions to make sure they're OK. — J.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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Comments

77 Comments | Post Comment
Unless the Annies edited something out, LW1 didn't necessarily mean his one-year-old baby was on top of his cousin. He could have been clinging to an arm or a leg, or sitting in his lap. Or, "get him off of me" could have meant simply that the baby was annoyingly close. Babies do like to throw toys and shake their bottles or sippy cups so that the contents spray on whoever's nearby.

Without specifics, it's hard to know whether the ten-year-old was actually threatening the baby. But it shouldn't come as a surprise to a father defending his child that of course his sister will defend HER child.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Kimiko
Thu Jan 2, 2014 9:13 PM
Unless the Annies edited something out, LW1 didn't necessarily mean his one-year-old baby was on top of his cousin. He could have been clinging to an arm or a leg, or sitting in his lap. Or, "get him off of me" could have meant simply that the baby was annoyingly close. Babies do like to throw toys and shake their bottles or sippy cups so that the contents spray on whoever's nearby.

Without specifics, it's hard to know whether the ten-year-old was actually threatening the baby. But it shouldn't come as a surprise to a father defending his child that of course his sister will defend HER child.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Kimiko
Thu Jan 2, 2014 9:13 PM
My husband works at Walmart, doing maintenance, and he's had people who are driving and texting run into him in the parking lot when he's out there emptying the trash cans. Luckily, he hasn't been seriously hurt, but the possibility is there. The really sad thing is that the people who have run into him yell at him for getting in their way. But that phone call, that text, is more important than their safety or the safety of any pedestrians in the parking lot. I personally have seen texting drivers almost run over people who are leaving the store and trying to get to their car. The parking lot is clear, they get into the marked walkway and then all of a sudden, there's a driver with their attention on the phone in their hand instead of on where they're going. Then there are the shoppers who are so busy talking/texting that they run into doors, walls, posts, shelving, and other customers. But it's not their fault, all of those things should have seen them coming and gotten out of their way (/sarcasm).
Comment: #3
Posted by: Vesta
Thu Jan 2, 2014 9:24 PM
Lw1 - what a total over reaction. How about acknowledging that your son was being annoying? The 10 year old used his words to try to solve the situation, which is a major point in his favor. Suggest that as a parent of a very small child, it is your job to keep an eye on him, all the time, and defuse these situations before they get out of hand. As the other child's uncle, it is your job to help him, to teach him how to behave around your son by explaining or showing him what to do, not threatening to kick him out of your house. To address your sister's behavior, start by addressing your own and apologize for your note. Then ask her, as an experienced parent, for ideas about how the kids can get along. She was once the parent of a one year old, too, and may have some good ideas.
Comment: #4
Posted by: kai archie
Thu Jan 2, 2014 9:38 PM
LW1: I believe the problem is YOU and not your ten year old nephew or your sister. Why? You need to look at this from a child's perspective. In short, you are expecting WAY TOO MUCH from both your one year old, who didn't respond to your command to come to you, and your nephew, who was uncomfortable and didn't know how to free himself without hurting your child.

You should consider yourself damn lucky that your nephew waited for adult intervention and not taken things into his own hands with your son. You likely were so absorbed in what you were doing that your nephew had to "threaten" your son to get your attention.

Therefore, it is no wonder that your sister is furious with you. You have both unfairly labeled your nephew as a menace and have frightened him with your fervor against him for trying to do the right thing by his little cousin. YES, YOU DO NEED TO APOLOGIZE TO BOTH YOUR SISTER AND YOUR NEPHEW for your unwarranted hysteria. Furthermore, you need to take the time necessary to assure your nephew that know he meant no harm and that he is a good person. Do this as often as necessary.
Comment: #5
Posted by: JustWinBaby
Thu Jan 2, 2014 9:54 PM
LW1 -
In between you, your sister, her brat and everybody else in the room, it seems to me that it took an awfully long time to finally perform a very simple task. Apparently, everybody was on pause while waiting for the next guy to make a move.

a) Why couldn't you get up and remove your son right away?
b) What about your wife, was she suffering from paralysis?
c) Why was your sister just sitting there ignoring the entire situation?
d) What about her husband? Was he turned into a pillar of salt too?
e) Is their son crippled and missing two arms? Seems to me a ten year old boy has what it takes to gently shift a baby from his body without having to throw a tantrum - or the baby. Was this anger and threat for violence really necessary? But given your sister's reaction to your admonition, he seems to be a chip from the ol' block.

Frankly I don't know what to tell you. It seems to me that each and everyone of you bar none just failed problem solving 101, as in, Problem: Baby in the wrong place. Solution: Get up and pick up baby. Huh?

Much ado about nothing indeed.

LW2-
Oh groan. There have been complaints about yellers ever since the cell phone was invented. This has nothing to do with smart phones, it has to do with stupid users.

Comment: #6
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Thu Jan 2, 2014 10:05 PM
LW1, are you daft? You are certainly lacking in common sense and what your expectations of both a one-year-old and 10-year-old are capable of. You say your primary concern is the safety of your son. Oh really? So when a kid says get him off me or I will throw him, what do you do? Call him to come to you??? He is one! How about getting off your lazy duff and getting up to physically remove your child? And then, talking to your child at his level about the need to leave people alone when asked? One-year-olds are notorious for pulling hair (and fur), poking eyes, slapping the face, and basically being covered in goo and poo that are grossly unappealing to a 10-year-old boy. Surely the 10-year-old was being bothered by your son before it reached the point of the first "threat", and even then, instead of removing your child, you lamely "called him to come to you." And guess what, that didn't work--because he's ONE!
.
The people who screwed up here are you and your wife, by believing that the world revolves around your child, that your child should be allowed to bother people even when asked to stop, and that both one-year-olds and ten-year-olds have the verbal and reasoning capacity of adults. You failed to fulfill YOUR responsibility as a parent to manage your child, then blamed a 10-year-old for losing it when YOU are the one who failed to act. Interesting that you are now all whah-whah about YOUR son and your sister's failure to correct her child's behavior, but didn't seem to care when your nephew was being pestered, harassed and possibly hurt and YOU failed to react. You owe both your sister and your nephew an apology, and then go take a parenting class. Sheesh.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Jane
Thu Jan 2, 2014 10:45 PM
LW1 - I question your conclusion that your nephew "threw a tantrum" by telling you he wanted the baby off him. I agree he didn't come up with the best choice of words, but he did use words to tell you he wanted the baby off of him; he didn't react violently physically, and I don't think he had any intention of hurting him. Your sister probably didn't do anything because she couldn't believe her idiot brother and SIL's failure to promptly remove the child. We don't know whether the parents discussed his choice of words with the nephew after the fact, may have, may not, and we don't know what the nephew really meant by "throw him" since he had the patience to say it a second time without doing anything. The baby is too young to have any blame in this situation, but I see trouble ahead with these parents when he gets a little older.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Girl Scout Leader
Thu Jan 2, 2014 10:51 PM
LW2: I discovered long ago that there are 2 types of people in the world: Those who realize that there are OTHER people, and those who don't. Cell phones just underscore this problem, but I notice it everywhere. For instance, I live in a big city with crowded sidewalks. I'd say about 90% of people practice polite sidewalk protocol; the other 10% don't give a crap and just barrel in a straight line towards wherever they're heading, other people be damned (whether or not they are on a phone). And of course there are litterers; there are people who sit at the bottom of stairs and are genuinely surprised when you need to use the stairs, etc. - they are everywhere, not just on cell phones.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Steve C
Thu Jan 2, 2014 11:01 PM
* * * * PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT * * * *

LW3 refers to the first letter on 29 November 2013.
Comment: #10
Posted by: Miss Pasko
Thu Jan 2, 2014 11:07 PM
Re LW#1-----
You could have prevented all this if you'd just met your guests at the door and explained to them that if your child wants to climb all over someone, you intend to let him, and they need to just take it, since that baby is the most important person in the room. Also tell them that if they say anything (like "get him off me"----repeatedly) you will take offense and consider it a threat to your child, even if no one does anything to the child, and that if this happens, you are owed an apology for them endangering your child by their words. (You should also call the police and tell them that your child was in danger because someone threatened to throw him off them. Maybe get a restraining order against that 10-year-old.)
.
Do that just one time, and you won't have the baby's safety threatened by your guests, because no one will want to set foot in your home.
.
OR------next time your kid is climbing all over someone and they don't want him to, and say so, get up off your duff and remove him yourself.
.
In other words, you may be a new, inexperienced parent, but you are also an idiot, as is your wife if she agrees with you on this. I predict your child will be spoiled rotten and nobody will be able to stand him.
Comment: #11
Posted by: jennylee
Thu Jan 2, 2014 11:10 PM
Yeah, okay, gently and kindly make sure your nephew understands how to behave around toddlers. *After* you make *very* sure he understands quite clearly that he is NOT required to be the automatic full-time unpaid babysitter for his little cousin at every family event.

Just in case, you know, he SOMEHOW managed to pick up that undoubtedly mistaken impression.

In short, if you humbly apologize to your nephew first, your sister might be more likely to accept the apology you immediately thereafter extend to her.

***

Lise, I see no sign of the ten-year-old actually throwing a tantrum. In "If somebody doesn't get him off me, I'm going to throw him off!" I hear a melodramatic cri de coeur from a kid at the end of his rope. LW then melodramatically characterized this as a "tantrum", but the only evidence he adduced was the boy's call for help. (Apparently drama runs in the family; but it's more age-appropriate from the ten-year-old than from the grown man.) Behaviorally, the kid didn't do a THING except holler for rescue a second time. Ten-year-olds generally aren't that taken with one-year-olds after the entertainment/novelty value wears off. Which it does fairly quickly if diapers are poopy, hair is being pulled, ears are being shrieked into, clothes are being slobbered on, cheeks are being scratched, toys are being bounced off of the older kid's head, grown-ups are too self-absorbed to pay a lick of attention, and it has been made clear to the kid that the baby is fragile and is to be treated like Dresden china, which could easily have the effect of rendering him incapable of figuring out a safe way to shift the one-year-old. "Safe" meaning "without getting into trouble".

If the boy had been having *fun* babysitting / playing with the baby cousin, I can't see the LW's scenario developing in the first place.

So I agree with your (a) through (d) but not at all with your (e).
Comment: #12
Posted by: Khlovia
Thu Jan 2, 2014 11:21 PM
Re LW#2-----
LW, thank you for writing this letter; you have performed a most valuable public service, and I predict that after your letter hits print, you will not be bothered ever again by inconsiderate people on smart phones. This is SO much more effective than saying something to the person who is doing it (and much safer, too, since you are just an anonymous LW and no one can take a swing at you or cuss you out for saying it directly to them).
.
Now we can all just sit back and watch for the positive results. I can hardly wait.
Comment: #13
Posted by: jennylee
Thu Jan 2, 2014 11:31 PM
LW1: That 10-year-old kid sounds like the most mature person in the entire family, though his mom also gets points for standing up for her son. And, actually, considering how we know that the LW overreacts and exaggerates, I'm not even willing to take LW's word for it re: her behaviour. So there might actually be two mature people in the family.

The LW & his wife need to realise PDQ that their kid is:
o1. Not a dog.
o2. Not the center of the freakin' universe.
Comment: #14
Posted by: Miz
Fri Jan 3, 2014 1:00 AM
LW1 - I agree with the others about the "tantrum". Unless there was something important left out of the letter, I see no evidence that the nephew did anything other than yell for someone to get the baby off him. It's clear that the baby was doing something that was either annoying the 10-year-old or actually hurting him, and he was probably afraid he'd hurt the baby by trying to get him to stop himself. So, what did he do? He yelled for the parents to get their child. What did they do? Nothing. The LW "called" his son? That may work with a well-trained puppy, but rarely for a baby. Both the LW and his wife are in the wrong here, and owe his sister and her son an apology.
.
LW2 - Like Jennylee, I'm SO thrilled that someone finally wrote to an adivce column about people who are inconsiderate with their cell phones. Why didn't someone do that sooner? Now all those people will immediately read this column, see themselves as rude, annoying, and a possible danger to themslves and others, and stop immediately. Thank you LW!
Comment: #15
Posted by: Kitty
Fri Jan 3, 2014 1:59 AM
LW1 - Your nephew didn't throw a tantrum, IMO. He was annoyed that your son was likely crawling all over him or poking at him or something like that and neither you nor your wife did anything about it. I'm not blaming your son...he's only 1 and doesn't know any better. If someone doesn't seem to enjoy your child all over them, then get up and remove your child. While I was not there, I wouldn't be surprised if your nephew looked very annoyed and maybe even got up and moved a few times. The first time your nephew said something, you should've gotten up and removed your son.

Do I think your nephew would've actually physically hurled him across the room? Doubtful. He likely said it to get you or your wife to get your son off of him. How many times have you ever said, "If you don't stop that I'm gonna kill you!" But you wouldn't actually kill them, right?

If I was your wife's sister, I would defend my son, too. You're making the 10 year old out of be some monster and he's not. Please do not turn into one of those parents whose child destroys everything and annoys everyone while you just sit there and smile.

LW2 - It's the not the phones...it's the people. For every person who is so preoccupied with their phone that they would missing an oncoming bus, there is one that is considerate and pays attention.
Comment: #16
Posted by: Michelle
Fri Jan 3, 2014 3:29 AM
LW1- I agree with others that you and your wife overacted, the both of you should have taken your son away from you nephew the FIRST time he said something. This is your nephew why could you have taken a moment to teach him a better way to handle the situation. “I'm sorry little Johnny was bothering you, the next time he does that and if I'm not around here's what you can do…gently put him on the ground and come tell an adult”. I'm also not going to let your sister off the hook either…her son was clearly in distress and she did nothing to help him, she could have easily removed the baby (her nephew) as well instead of sitting there waiting for someone take action. The adults in the situation need to start acting like adults; being defensive isn't helping situation and is causing tension/conflict in the family.
Comment: #17
Posted by: JA
Fri Jan 3, 2014 4:43 AM
Lw1 I'm going against the grain here. You don't mention that your nephew had any problems or asked for help before he said he'd "throw the baby" if someone didn't get him off of him. If he had, you or your wife should have responded then, and taken your little one. If the first mention was " someone take him or I'll throw him," I'd have grabbed the baby and given that mouthy little jerk a stern talking to. Making threats against a baby is not okay, and you had every right to tell your sister such behavior in your home in unacceptable. You do not owe her or your nephew any apology. If my kids had said something like that I'd have smacked them. He may have "used his words", but you don't threaten to throw a baby. He should have said " Okay, I've had enough, uncle Bill, Aunt Annie, can one of you take David? He's squirmy and I think he wants you." And for the record, I am NOT a child-worshipper. But the nephew crossed a line with what he said.
Comment: #18
Posted by: Emily
Fri Jan 3, 2014 4:47 AM
LW2: relax, it's a Darwinian thing. Some of these people will soon remove themselves from the gene pool. On three separate occasions, I've nearly run into people who drifted out in front of me while yacking on 'phones. In the case of the first two, I was in my car, leaned on the horn, and they didn't even look up or seem to realize I was there. The third time was last summer when I was riding my bike home from work. A woman stepped off the sidewalk right in front of me and I yelled "Look out!" Whereupon she became abusive. I was tempted to ride back and point out that she'd be dead if I'd been driving a car instead of riding a bicycle, but I figure she'll learn someday... or get killed.
Some years ago a woman was hit by a light rail transit train in Calgary while talking on a cell 'phone, but all the news reports were dancing around the truth, stating that "it's not comfirmed". Well, one of my co-workers was on that train, saw the whole thing, and did confirm it. Why wouldn't they come out and say it, as a warning to others?
Comment: #19
Posted by: Seabeast2
Fri Jan 3, 2014 5:14 AM
LW1--Your problem is that you committed the ultimate cardinal sin of criticizing someone else's parenting style. You further compounded the problem by adding a little caveat to a formal invitation, which literally put the issue in your sister's face in black and white. You basically implied that your sister's child is violent and out of control and isn't welcome if he throws a tantrum in your home because he'll pose a danger to your own child. Why didn't you simply pull your sister aside immediately after the fracas with the kids occurred and talk to her about it? Frankly I don't blame your sister for being pissy at other family functions or going on the defensive with regards to her son. You two seem like you've watched too many episodes of 'Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.' What you need to do is invite your sister over where you and your wife can calmly discuss what happened and then let your sister explain her side. Only then will you be able to mend the rift.

LW2--Sweetie, some random syndicated advice columnists aren't going to magically clear the world of inconsiderate clods. You can't control the behavior of others, only your own. Your choices are pretty clear. (1) Tell the rude ignoramus standing at your neck and yacking at top volume on her phone to STFU!; (2) Simply push the aloof ones out of your path as you pass, or shove them back if they push into you; (3) wear noise cancelling earphones everywhere you go in public; (4) invest in a personal cell phone jammer that will disable cell service around you in a 30 foot radius (note that they're illegal in some countries but nonetheless readily available online.) (5) stay home!!
Comment: #20
Posted by: Chris
Fri Jan 3, 2014 5:40 AM
Seabeast's post reminded me of the stupid girl who was texting in a mall and literally fell into the fountain because she wasn't watching where she was walking. If you've never seen it, go to YouTube and search for "girl falls in mall fountain while texting" Hilarious!

Comment: #21
Posted by: Michelle
Fri Jan 3, 2014 5:48 AM
LW1: Heh. In about 9 years, we'll have another indignant letter from LW:

"Dear Annies: My younger brother and his wife seem to think their 1 YO daughter is the center of the universe, At a recent family gathering, my 10 YO son was trying to play a board game with his older cousin, but this toddler would not leave him alone. Although he tried gamely to distract the child, after about 20 minutes, he called for the parents to come get their child away from them. When they did nothing more than laugh and call to their daughter, he threatened to slap the kid's hands if she didn't get away from the game -- THEN they got all ticked off and have told everyone who will listen that my son has an anger management problem!..."
Comment: #22
Posted by: hedgehog
Fri Jan 3, 2014 5:53 AM
LW1: I'm going to side with Emily (#18) here -- not a unanimous day here, in any case.

In the very least, the 10-year-old needed to be counseled on how to better handle the situation. Threatening to throw a kid – a 1-year-old who likely doesn't know any better – is not very appropriate, IMO. I agree that the parents of the kid should have intervened before it even got to this point, but when the kid says, "I am going throw him," then you take him aside and make damn sure he never says anything like that again. (Maybe a good swat across the face?)

I realize this was a gathering where people were talking – and given this was a family gathering, possibly other things, such as drinking beer, playing cards, watching football, etc. – and that it was hard for them to keep an eye on everyone all at the same time, and there was an expectation that the older kids mind the younger ones. But this should serve as a lesson for a lot of the involved people.

Lise (#6) is correct: "It seems to me that each and everyone of you bar none just failed problem solving 101, as in, Problem: Baby in the wrong place. Solution: Get up and pick up baby." I'm sure that will mean making a sacrifice - missing out on a point in a conversation, a missed or forgotten card trick in that big euchre game, the Auburn-type play (where a missed field goal was returned 100-plus yards for the game-winning touchdown), etc. – but it sure beats the alternative and sometimes there's just more important things.
Comment: #23
Posted by: Bobaloo
Fri Jan 3, 2014 6:22 AM
OK, I'll take back a good swat across the face.
Comment: #24
Posted by: Bobaloo
Fri Jan 3, 2014 6:22 AM
Re: Khlovia #12
"I hear a melodramatic cri de coeur from a kid at the end of his rope. LW then melodramatically characterized this as a "tantrum"
Whatever. Granted that amongst all the dead wrong, inept idiots in that room, he was by far the least guilty (which is why he was last on the list) since he was only a child, but he was ten years old, not four, and I hear no mention that he was mentally deficient or paralysed from the neck down. He certainly was strong enough to get rid of a toddler by himself without trowing a fit. In my book that would have been excusable only if the baby kept hovering around him like a fruit fly and he couldn't get rid of him (actually, maybe this IS what happened, and the LW conveniently neglected to mention that little detail).

It seems to me that the MO in that family is cast-in-concrete inertia. Someone upthread said he was the most mature individual in the whole room - well, that won't last, the poor kid is being trained in being unable to handle the basics. Like I said, he is the least guilty and I actually feel sorry for both these children. And these people need to write in to an advice columnist to be told to pick up the dratted kid when he's not where he should be? What are they gonna do when kiddo strolls into traffic, just stand there expecting it to screech to a halt in a single block like in the cartoons? Do they need to be told how to use the bathroom while we're at it? Good flamin' grief, man. What Jane said.

P.S.:"and it has been made clear to the kid that the baby is fragile and is to be treated like Dresden china, which could easily have the effect of rendering him incapable of figuring out a safe way to shift the one-year-old. "Safe" meaning "without getting into trouble"."
You got a point there.

@Bobaloo
"OK, I'll take back a good swat across the face."
Good, because a swat across the face is far worse than a swat across the boum-boum (which is sometimes all a toddler can understand). I've used the very occasional cuff on the ear (once or twice) on my daughter when she was growing up, but a swat across the face is personal. You don't do that to your children if you want to develop a warm relationship.

Comment: #25
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Fri Jan 3, 2014 8:05 AM
Without all the fictional embelleshments that Bobaloo goes in for, it seems pretty clear that this inert gathering of adults sat around doing whatever they were doing until the 10 year old couldn't take it anymore. The annoyances that a one year old can cause just by being allowed to are adorable only to its hypnotized parents - a 10 year old boy cannot be expected to have a tolerance level anywhere near an adult's. And that ...."or I'll throw him" sounds pretty tame to me considering how much annoyance he must have put up with before he got to that point.

So Emily's " If my kids had said something like that I'd have smacked them" - is puzzling. You'd smack them...because...you don't want them retaliating with violence toward someone smaller than they are? Oh, that ought to do it.

In summary: LW1 sounds like a paralyzed nincompoop - typical modern first time parent who has to run to a training manual to figure out that he won't permanently damage the baby by picking him up THE FIRST TIME and removing him from the situation. As simple as that.
Comment: #26
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Fri Jan 3, 2014 8:20 AM
I'm going to take a guess here and say that "Get him off of me or I'm going to throw him" was probably not the first thing the nephew said. The fact that LW1 calls it a temper tantrum tells me he probably tried to say something before, but nobody did anything until he actually threatened to throw the baby. I liked Hedgehog's letter. Here is mine.

Dear Annie:

I am a thirteen year-old boy. Three years ago, I was at a family gathering when my then one year-old cousin started climbing on me. It was cute at first, but then he started pulling my hair, slapping me and trying to grab my glasses and the hand-held game I was playing with. At first, I tried gently pushing him away but he really wanted my glasses/electronics/whatever and he wouldn't stop. And there wasn't really anywhere for me to go where I could get away from him. I tried to get the attention of his parents or my mother, but they were too wrapped up in their conversations. Finally, I called out "If someone doesn't get him off of me, I'm going to throw him." His dad called to him but didn't do anything else. So I yelled it again. Finally, his dad grabbed him and took him to another room, giving me a dirty look.

I know I shouldn't have said I'd throw him, but I didn't know what else to say to make someone intervene. And I was only ten years old and probably heard it from a movie somewhere. I was never really going to hurt him or else I'd have done it already. A few months later, my uncle and aunt sent out invitations to another party. They put a note into my mother's invitation telling her that I had threatened their son and that she was a bad parent for not punishing me for it in front of them. They told her that we'd both be asked to leave if I threaten him again. Now, whenever we get together, everyone is tense and my uncle and aunt act like I'm a monster. Why does my mom keep dragging me back to be around these people? "
Comment: #27
Posted by: Datura
Fri Jan 3, 2014 8:27 AM
I should also admit that I agree that 'I'm going to throw him' is a very unfortunate choice of words. If it had been my kid that said it, I would be pulling him aside and talking to him in private. Of course, I'd also apologize for being so engrossed in whatever I was doing that I let a baby climb all over him.
Comment: #28
Posted by: Datura
Fri Jan 3, 2014 8:29 AM
Boy, if there was ever a case where a letter writer should read below the line, it is today's LW1!
Comment: #29
Posted by: Mary Ann
Fri Jan 3, 2014 8:36 AM
Re: Datura
I gotta admit this is a likely scenario! And by then, the cousin who was one is now four, and likely the spoiled brat of the year.

Comment: #30
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Fri Jan 3, 2014 9:18 AM
@Seabeast2 post #19 - yep. The jaywalkers (regardless of phone) WILL yell at the legally riding bicyclists. I'd say 50% jump out of the way (apologetically), 50% are upset that the dangerous mean bicyclist doesn't hit the brakes for poor little sweet jaywalker. But I've been yelled at a couple times even WHEN I screeched to halt, just missing hitting them! Entitlement knows no bounds.
Comment: #31
Posted by: Steve C
Fri Jan 3, 2014 9:25 AM
Re: Mary Ann #29
I completely agree.

LW1
It's hard to know all the facts in the situation from your letter, but it does sound like you and your wife were not handling the situation well. I'm in the camp that feels you need to coach your nephew in how to handle a toddler yourself, since your sister is not going to step up at this time. She may feel you were at fault for not supervising your child more closely and allowing him to pester his cousin, but whether that was the case or not, your nephew needs to be taught how to deal with these situations and it sounds like that will be your job.

It's a pretty simple undertaking to distract a toddler and refocus their attention and he should be taught to do so without expecting or needing rescue from the adults. His choice of words was very inappropriate and should have been addressed by you at the time. If this unfortunate choice of words does not simply indicate a frustrated 10-year-old, but seems to you to be an indicator of a lack of regard and control regarding his potential behavior toward the baby, then it is up to you and your wife to always supervise the situation closely at all times and not leave them alone or out of easy reach in the future until you are confident that your nephew is not a physical threat to your child.
Comment: #32
Posted by: EstherGreenwood
Fri Jan 3, 2014 9:25 AM
LW1: I don't think any of you should be breeding. Having said that YOU should have said something to the nephew like, "Go ahead and I'll throw you through the window and watch you bounce down the street." It's okay to handle another child when that child crosses a line and the parent does nothing especially in your own home. BUT your kid doesn't get to do whatever he wants either and expecting a 10 year old to behave better than you idiot adults did is so stupid I think you should be slapped repeatedly.

LW2: Public service notices are so stupid and a bloody waste of time. Learn to adapt to human life around you.

Comment: #33
Posted by: Diana
Fri Jan 3, 2014 9:26 AM
Re: Diana #33
"Public service notices are so stupid and a bloody waste of time."
I LOVE YOU, DIANA---------
Comment: #34
Posted by: jennylee
Fri Jan 3, 2014 10:09 AM
Re: Maggie Lawrence (#26)

"Without all the fictional embelleshments that Bobaloo goes in for, it seems pretty clear that this inert gathering of adults sat around doing whatever they were doing … "

Granted, WE DON'T KNOW what the adults were doing – except it is apparent they were leaving the kids to mind the store and police themselves, which is common at these gatherings (i.e., those 10-12 years old or so are asked to help watch the kids, while the teens do their thing and the adults do theirs). That said, I gave completely plausible ideas for what the adults could be doing: watching TV (I said football, but it could be any sport depending on the time of year, or it could be a movie or anything), drinking beer and talking, playing cards … those were the things that went on at the family gatherings I went to when I was a kid (and still do), and admit it, those things probably went on at most other BTL'ers. (I'll also add that during the meal preparation phase, the women cooked and/or got all the serving plates/table settings ready, and sometimes the older kids helped.) If you think that's fictional, then I'd like to know what else could be going on. (And no, "who cares" is not an acceptable answer!)

"A 10 year old boy cannot be expected to have a tolerance level anywhere near an adult's. And that …. 'or I'll throw him' sounds pretty tame to me considering how much annoyance he must have put up with before he got to that point."

I'll grant you that indeed, most kids that age have a short tolerance level for younger children who are, well, being themselves. We agree there. It's just that "or I'll throw him" comment that bothers me. No matter how much annoyance the kid has put up with, you just don't say that.

I mean, if I, as an adult, threatened to knock someone's head off because I disagreed with him on a work issue or something I wrote or even if said customer came in to just rant about whatever (every newspaper has one), I'd be out of a job. If I were a kid in school and threatened to break someone's iPod because they were using it (and in the process the machine was making noises), then I'd probably be in detention. And on it goes.

The fact is, the kid should have been taught – or should be right away, now that it's happened – be taught the appropriate way to handle the situation (e.g., come up to Mom or Dad and say, "Hey, he's bothering me. Could you please move him?"). A 10-year-old is perfectly capable of understanding that. He didn't handle it well, and that's just on that particular level.

And lest we forget, it doesn't matter if this was the first time he ever uttered said infamous phrase or if this is par for the course for him, you deal with it NOW!

EstherGreenwood (#32)

"His choice of words was very inappropriate and should have been addressed by you at the time."

And this is what I'm also having trouble understanding … the way I read a few BTL'ers (not yours, Esther), it sounds like the 10-year-old boy handled himself appropriately. That said, I do think it should be up to the parents to teach their son appropriate manners, and the LW should step up only if absolutely needed or if it's 100 percent clear it isn't happening.

Dautura (#28)

I think that in your scenario, it's blowing things up 100-fold. I think that in time, the parents of the kid (i.e., the LW and his wife) will forget what happened, maybe in a month or so. Just let it boil over and don't make a blooming big issue out of it. Although I do think putting a note on their specific invitation was inappropriate (a simple phone call explaining things nicely would be better).

Another thing the kid should have done is just simply have him go to another room elsewhere in the house (maybe a favorite cousin's and shut the door). I also DO NOT think for a second the kid was put on parade and everyone was expected to go "aww, what a cute wittle baby! Coochie-coochie coo!!!" The focus of the party was family camaraderie and good times, not a pageant for the kid ... and to think some people believe that's what the LWs wanted said party to be. Geez!

Commenter #33

"… and expecting a 10 year old to behave better than you idiot adults did is so stupid"

No, but he is 10 years old and perfectly capable of at least understanding the difference between an appropriate way to handle the situation and saying something that has caused a rift. That's what I am annoyed about, that nobody sees the difference.

Sorry I went on, but just so much to respond to.
Comment: #35
Posted by: Bobaloo
Fri Jan 3, 2014 10:18 AM
LW2: OK, BTL, how the hell do you want these people to get the point across that there is etiquette to be observed when using a cell phone? That perhaps the best thing to do is either find a park bench and sit and make your text, check e-mail, etc., or simply wait, that posting whatever just popped in your head on Facebook or Twitter because it was sooooooo cool isn't worth bumping your head into a light post or walking out into traffic in front of a car, etc.

Egad – just two letters today. Unusual … .
Comment: #36
Posted by: Bobaloo
Fri Jan 3, 2014 10:25 AM
My theory on very audible cell phone conversations:

If you are talking loud enough on your cell phone for me to hear it, then you have invited me into your conversation and I will make comments about it.
Amazing how quickly people will lower their voices after a couple pointed comments.

It did, however, back fire on me one time. This twenty something was talking with a friend about the friends jealous boyfriend. I made a couple of comments like tell her to "dhmfa" and "tell her its not about love, its about control." The next thing I knew she had me on the phone explaining why the boyfriends behavior was wrong, not a compliment to how much he loved her :)
Comment: #37
Posted by: Michelle Keane
Fri Jan 3, 2014 11:38 AM
I'd like to point out what might seem a minor semantic detail; emphases added are mine:

He said, "If someone doesn't get him off of me, I am going to THROW HIM" ....my nephew said *again*, "Someone get him off, or I will throw him *OFF*."

There's a heckuva difference between "throw him" and "throw him off". The first conjures up an image of a baby being lobbed across the room and bouncing off the opposite wall: a serious threat. The second need imply no more than bigger kid shifting his center of gravity just enough to land smaller kid on his diaper-padded butt on the floor. LW said "..said AGAIN...", suggesting that the nephew said the exact same thing twice. Which is the more likely transcription error, leaving a word out or adding in an extra word? I think we can rely upon this LW *not* to have made the error that makes his nephew look *less* at fault.
Comment: #38
Posted by: Khlovia
Fri Jan 3, 2014 11:52 AM
Re: Bobaloo #35
"LW should step up only if absolutely needed or if it's 100 percent clear it isn't happening."

IMHO, the ideal would be for any and all adults present to gently or firmly - depending on whether they view his threats of violence as plausible or simply an inappropriate expression of his frustration - correct the 10-year-old. This family does seem a bit touchy however, since the LW went so far as to write in about the incident, so you're probably right that the LW should at least wait to see whether the sister will step in prior to correcting the child (but not prior to removing the toddler if they sense any sort of real threat obviously) - even if that wait is only a few interminable seconds.

Honestly, I don't think I could stop myself and would be compelled to address the situation immediately - hopefully in a low-key and positive manner - and probably before anyone else did, although I tend to try and keep an eye on things with the toddlers so the situation would in all likelihood never have occurred to begin with.
Comment: #39
Posted by: EstherGreenwood
Fri Jan 3, 2014 11:54 AM
Re: Steve C #31
And, unfortunately...

The riding bicyclists (regardless of phone) WILL yell at the car with the right-of-way. I'd say 20% get out of the way (apologetically), 80% are upset that the dangerous mean driver doesn't hit the brakes for poor little sweet bicyclist. But I've been yelled at a couple times even WHEN I screeched to halt, just missing hitting them! Entitlement knows no bounds.

At least the rogue bunch we have here.

@Bobaloo #35 & 36
"Granted, WE DON'T KNOW what the adults were doing"
Sure, we do: failing problem-solving 101. ;-D

"It's just that "or I'll throw him" comment that bothers me. No matter how much annoyance the kid has put up with, you just don't say that."
It's as adults that we don't say that, once we've learned to control ourselves. We're not born with that kind of control (some people actually never attain it) and the child is ten years old, he is not there yet.

And, as other posters have noted, it may very well be that the kid said many other things before, as well as tried to rid himself of the toddler before finally losing it, and that the LW convenienly edited out these details out of his version of things.

The first one at fault is the LW, second, his wife, next the sister and her husband. All of them were just siting there doing nothing, blaming others, when all either of them had to do was just get off their stinkin', lazy butt and pick up the dratted baby.

"No, but he is 10 years old and perfectly capable of at least understanding the difference between an appropriate way to handle the situation and saying something that has caused a rift. That's what I am annoyed about, that nobody sees the difference."
We do see the difference. The point we're making is that there may have been things that drove the kid to lose it that are not mentioned, and you can't expect a ten year-old to have the same discipline as an adult. Especially since we're quite capable of "losing it" ourselves... I do humbly confess that, if I'm in a store pushing a cart full of stuff, someone is blocking my way and this is the third time I politely say, "excuse me" while they keep on yacking, ignoring me superbly, standing there like an asparagus and expecting me to wait until they're good and ready, I WILL yell. Not only that, but what I'ill yell won't be fit for a ten year old's ears!

If that kid went through a version of the same, I think we can allow him the right to become exasperated in the face of sheer idiocy, same as we do. ;-D

"Egad – just two letters today. Unusual … ."
There WERE three letters.The third one started in the middle of the fifth line of the answer to the second. Somebody forgot to hit return and it was not edited - same old, same old.

@Michelle Keane #37
Well, at least she valued your advice! ;-D

Comment: #40
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Fri Jan 3, 2014 12:23 PM
Bobaloo, "Who cares?" is going to have to be an acceptable answer because it doesn't matter one whit what the family was doing when the incident occurred, in spite of all your fictional imaginings. And by "fictional" I don't mean they weren't possible but that, for reasons known only to yourself, you made them up.

Khlovia has made an excellent point about the two quotes LW1 uses regarding what the boy said. "Throw him" and "throw him off" are very different. And either way, it isn't the 10 year old who was at fault, but the baby's parents who allowed him to continue being an annoyance when it was clear that's what he was.
Comment: #41
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Fri Jan 3, 2014 12:24 PM
Re: Bobaloo
I agree that my scenario blows things up. But in my opinion, it's already been blown up way more than it needed to be. Mind you, the letter doesn't really give us a time frame of how long from the first incident until the dreaded invitations were sent out. This is a situation that could have been resolved in less than two minutes.

"If someone doesn't get Joey off of me, I'm going to throw him!"
(while taking the baby away) Dude, that's not cool. Don't say stuff like that.
"But he was trying to-"
"I don't care. You don't say you're going to throw a baby."

Or, if LW was afraid to discipline the boy himself...

"Hey Jane? Johnny just threatened to throw Joey."

There. Done. Or there is what Diana said above. If any of the adults involved had behaved like adults, it would have been over and done with as fast as it started. Instead, it's been drawn out into notes in invitations and hurt feelings all around.

As for going to another room. Maybe. We don't know if that was an option. I am sure that the kid may have had better options than saying what he did. But then, he is ten.
Comment: #42
Posted by: Datura
Fri Jan 3, 2014 12:54 PM
LW1 -- I can see the merit to both of the scenarios that have been posited here. But as the mother of a 2-year-old and a 7-month-old, I have to say that my immediate response to the letter was "is there a single brain cell working among the three adults in this situation?" Yes, what the 10-year-old said was inappropriate -- and, if he has ever shown a predilection for violent and/or inappropriate behavior, then it's disturbing, as wel (but the LW doesn't indicate that's the case -- and you can bet your bottom dollar he would have if there had been)l. But if the parents of the 1-year-old aren't clueless idiots, then they are watching their son like a hawk and not expecting a 10-year-old to supervise him. And they sure as hell aren't expecting their 1-year-old to come when called like a well-trained retriever.

When we go to family gatherings or have family over, people will say things like, "well, that's nice, because it gives you a break, since other family members will play with your kids..." Well, I have no illusions about just how fascinating my children are to anyone other than their grandparents -- and the grandparents (who are all in their 70s -- I had my children later in life) don't have the stamina to chase after the 2-year-old for hours on end or deal with a potentially cranky baby for hours on end. It is hardly any sort of break for me, because what happens is people will hold them or play with them until they're cranky, tired, have dirty diapers, etc., at which point the not-nearly-so-adorable urchin is plopped right back on my lap -- and they're probably more cranky than they would have been had they remained entirely in my care to begin with, so basically I pay for that "break" I get. Knowing all this, I still, of course, let those who wish to hold or play with my children do so, but I also keep an eye for the moment when either my child or the relative has had enough. That would be MY job, as the parent. Not my nieces' and nephews', not my brother's or in-law's -- MINE.

If the LW had simply kept an eye on his son to begin with, none of this would have happened. Barring that, if the LW had simply listened to the nephew the FIRST time he asked someone to get the baby, none of this would have happened. Barring that, if the LW had left it at picking up his son on the second go-round and said to the nephew, "hey, I'm sorry your cousin was bothering you, but that's not a nice thing to say," none of this would have happened. Barring that, if the LW had picked up his son, not said anything to the nephew but kept an eye out for a repeat of the behavior in the future and then addressed it IN THE MOMENT, none of this would have happened.

But he didn't do any of those things. No, instead he picked him up, said nothing to anyone about it until afterwards, whereupon he mulled on it until he turned it into a federal offense, whereupon he felt a need to take his sister to task as if she were a a 6-year-old.

Yes, what the 10-year-old said was inappropriate. Yes, the sister should have said something to her son about it. But the LW could have prevented the entire situation or at least could have skipped turning it into a federal case. LW needs to apologize to the nephew and sister, and in future, LW needs to supervise his child better.
Comment: #43
Posted by: Lisa
Fri Jan 3, 2014 12:57 PM
And as a P.S. ... can't remember who suggested the 10-year-old should have walked over to one of the adults and asked for help with the baby and/or just get up and go to another room or otherwise remove himself from the situation -- depending on where the baby was in relation to the 10-year-old, none of those things are options that end well for the baby. If the baby is literally ON TOP OF the 10-year-old, as is implied by the 10-year-old asking for someone to get the baby off of him, the 10-year-old isn't physically in a position to walk away. Even a one-year-old is heavy, and depending on the size and strength of the 10-year-old and the positioning of the baby, he may not have been physically capable of moving away from the baby without hurting the baby.

@Bobaloo -- I'm not going to suggest that any of the "fictitious" things you suggested may have been going on aren't entirely possible -- in fact, I think it's LIKELY that one or more of those things was going on, and the adults were all distracted and not paying much (or any) attention to the kids. However, unless the kids are all old enough to play on a jungle gym without being spotted and/or closely supervised by an adult, then they aren't old enough for adults to allow themselves to just take a break and hope for the best. The baby is a year old. That means he might not even be walking on his own, yet, and even if he is, he is likely falling down A LOT. Such a child requires near-constant adult supervision. So again, what the 10-year-old said (if it's being reported accurately) was inappropriate -- but it's up to parents to be parents, it's up to adults to be adults. And the adults who were in the best position to prevent any of this from happening at all were the parents of the 1-year-old who should have known better than to leave a 1-year-old in the care of a 10-year-old without watching the situation like a hawk.
Comment: #44
Posted by: Lisa
Fri Jan 3, 2014 1:10 PM
Re: Maggie Lawrence (#41)

Not to continue the arguing (and yes, I did expect "Who cares?"), but this is where you and I have the most disagreements – the "for reasons known only to yourself, you made them up" bit. I included the examples – not "made them up," which implies something totally impossible in the real world – because *I* thought it important to the case … the parents were busy doing their thing (see examples above) and too busy or engrossed in their thing to mind the kids, some of whom are likely old enough to watch over the younger ones, etc. Same as all those other times where I include completely plausible things that were going on when something happened, what motivates someone to do something, etc., which I'm sure is too lengthy to list.

At least I know now where you're coming from when you say, "and by 'fictional' I don't mean they weren't possible … " so at least I acknowledge the clarification there, and if you don't think it's that important, I understand. But my goodness, you made it out to be as though I would come up with something totally off the wall with what they were supposedly doing before the parent finally stepped in … and I won't give an example because it'd be pointless anyway and I don't want to make a total goof out of myself.

But sorry, there is NO give to the 10-year-old's culpability. The way I read it, you (and it seems, a couple of others) are giving him a complete free pass, even if all the kid said was "I am going to throw him off" to get someone to act. That is still unacceptable and it doesn't matter one bit whether the 1-year-old was still annoying him and the parents had failed to intercede. This does not mean that the LW gets a free pass … there were a number of things that went wrong here.

And FWIW, I didn't even get into the part about the LW inviting his nephew but with the caveat that he behave, although it does state "threatens ours during one of his tantrums … ." I overlooked it, I'll admit, but either way I thought it wasn't important enough to comment on whether this incident was an isolated case that may or may not be typical (but still unacceptable) for a 10-year-old, even if they are still learning; or a pattern of behavior. FWIW, I do think it is an isolated case – I do think the kid, although I'm sure far from perfect like every other 10-year-old and absent any more hard facts, does deserve the benefit of the doubt. But I don't know, you tell me … and I'll leave it at that.

And yes, I do think the LW needs to back off a bit. I will restate that again.
Comment: #45
Posted by: Bobaloo
Fri Jan 3, 2014 1:16 PM
Re: Lisa (#44)

I apologize for not stating this, so thanks for pointing it out, but yes, of course the 1-year-old should indeed have been cared for by someone responsible. If not the mom or dad, a mature, responsible teenager. (I am going to guess that there was at least a couple of them there.)

I guess when I say the kids watch each other, I'm thinking a 10-12 year old watches the ones who are maybe 2 or 3 through whatever age (6, 7 maybe?), and the parents take care of the youngest kids. Usually, you do have a few older kids who have that "take charge" thing and can handle three or four. It is – along with learning what's right and wrong to say – a part of growing up, no? :)
Comment: #46
Posted by: Bobaloo
Fri Jan 3, 2014 1:22 PM
Re: Datura (#42)

"I agree that my scenario blows things up. But in my opinion, it's already been blown up way more than it needed to be. Mind you, the letter doesn't really give us a time frame of how long from the first incident until the dreaded invitations were sent out. This is a situation that could have been resolved in less than two minutes … ."

Agreed totally. (And also, admittedly, we don't know the exact words used or how loudly the kid yelled.)

But to address the point about "punishing" him in front of others in your putting-yourself-in-the-kid's-shoes letter, I think what the LW could very well have wanted – I don't know – was for at least one of the kid's parents to be with him when he gave him the stern talking-to. That way, if the kid complains to mommy and daddy that Uncle Bob was being mean to him, mom says, "No – I agree with Bob … you don't say that. Ever! (Kid starts to do the "But he … " act, but mom cuts him off) And if you don't like it, you can go upstairs to the master bedroom and have a time-out!" (In other words, let him sulk and cry, and he'll have to get over it.)
Comment: #47
Posted by: Bobaloo
Fri Jan 3, 2014 1:33 PM
You can throw the baby to Bitey Fish. Bitey Fish loves little babies.

Comment: #48
Posted by: Piranha in Pajamas
Fri Jan 3, 2014 1:37 PM
And BTW – I did finally see LW3, which was a response to "Bound and Gagged" – which was the LWs suggestion that the two victims still get counseling to make sure they're OK. I agree, and nothing really too much else to add.
Comment: #49
Posted by: Bobaloo
Fri Jan 3, 2014 1:40 PM
@Bobaloo -- I do totally understand what you're saying about older kids caring for the younger ones, and you're right that it happens all the time. My mother has 10 cousins (all from the same two parents), and the only reason the parents of those 10 kids were able to take care of them all was that they enlisted the oldest ones to help with the youngest ones. But that only works if:

1) The kids in charge really are old enough to supervise the others
2) The kids in charge WANT to help out in this fashion
3) The kids in charge have some experience/knowledge about how to care for the younger ones
3) The kids being cared for aren't too young to be appropriately cared for by the older ones

The eldest of my mother's cousins knew how to diaper a baby, burp a baby, etc. by the time they were 10, but I surely didn't -- I was the youngest of only two kids. If someone was going to expect the 10-year-old me to supervise a 1-year-old, they would have needed to at least give me some pointers about the best way to pick him up, carry him, redirect him, etc.

Who makes the determination on whether those four requirements have been met? That would be the parents. And that should happen BEFORE those parents allow themselves to get so distracted. And if they have determined that that not all of those requirements have been met, then it's incumbent upon them -- as the adults and parents -- to ensure they are keeping a close eye on the situation.

I can't speak for the others here, but I honestly do not think anyone is giving the 10-year-old a free pass. I think pretty much everyone has agreed that what he said was inappropriate. But the first fault is with the adults, period. Moreover, honestly, I seriously doubt the 10-year-old was even remotely serious about throwing the baby -- if he was, he would have done so when no one responded to his first statement to that effect. And you agree that this almost certainly an isolated episode. I far prefer inappropriate words from a 10-year-old than inappropriate actions by adults. If I'm going to give someone a pass, it's the 10-year-old who said something he shouldn't have (and didn't even mean it). If I'm going to hold someone accountable, it's going to be the adult(s) who allowed the situation to get that far in the first place and then magnified it all out of proportion after the fact.
Comment: #50
Posted by: Lisa
Fri Jan 3, 2014 1:42 PM
OMG! Bitey Fish is here! Haven't seen you in ages!
Comment: #51
Posted by: Lisa
Fri Jan 3, 2014 1:43 PM
Re: Lisa
It wished us a Merry Fishmas on the Christmas thread, and popped once or twice since then.

But yeah, Bitey Fish is back, WOO-HOO, WOO-HOO, WOO-HOO, WOO-HOO, Bugs Bunny Happy Dance!

Comment: #52
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Fri Jan 3, 2014 3:07 PM
OMG, BF is back! Just what we need … . :)

As far as Lisa's comments go on #50 – the good news is, as families get larger (such as those with 15-20 cousins), there's often one or two in every group that do want to help out and are old/skilled/mature enough. I'd guess the pointers would be given beforehand and there'd be practice (e.g., with dolls). I wouldn't expect anyone to go in cold.

Speaking of cold …

Here in the Midwest, we are really going to be in for it early next week. 10 degrees below zero – FOR DAYTIME HIGHS, if you can believe it!!! Near 20-25 below zero for nighttime lows, with isolated areas of 30 degrees below. The longest cold snap since 1996. Makes me want to think summer … and a good-looking woman by my side. Ah well, at least we're having treats here on Monday when we put out the paper. (And some rich twice-baked potato soup would also work wonders.)

If you're also in the area that's expected to be slapped by this big-time cold, please stay safe! Dress warm, don't stay outside longer than you have to, let your car warm up 10 minutes, let the faucets drip to prevent the pipes from bursting, keep space heaters off at night (and be safe when you do use them) … all that good stuff.

Thing is, Lise and a few others, I believe you're going to be in an area that's warmer than what we here in the Midwest will be. I think even most of Alaska will be, come to think of it.
Comment: #53
Posted by: Bobaloo
Fri Jan 3, 2014 3:29 PM
Re: Lise Brouillette #52
I second the Happy Dance for Bitey Fish -- but where is Lolley? We could really use her words of wisdom around here!
Comment: #54
Posted by: Kitty
Fri Jan 3, 2014 3:34 PM
Re: Bobaloo *OFF-TOPIC ALERT *
I sure hope we're GOING to be, but right now we sure ain't. -10? I wish. It's -18F right now in Montreal (not counting the wind factor) and 60F in my place. I'm wearing earmuffs and typing with gloves. I have a little space heater going full tilt right next to me right now, so I have one side warm and toasty and the other side freezing.

Not much is getting done because there is a lot that can't get done with gloves on, and also fighting the cold means I don't have a lot of energy. All I would feel like doing is hunkering down under my two favourite blankets and a huge comforter, but if I do that, nothing gets done.

One thing I managed to accomplish is that I went to Canadian Tire to stock up on incandescent light bulbs - these dim bulb idiots at the government have put a ban on production of 100 watts, effective January 1st, and the stores are allowed to sell what they have in stock, but that's it. And I HATE these new swirly thingies that are supposed to be the cat's meow and are ten times the price, but DON'T last ten times the time and actually light LESS. Grrrr. In my jewellery workshop, that would mean I would have to install yet one more lamp, otherwise I won't see well enough. So I'm stocking up for the end of times, at least the end of times for incandescents.

I didn't take the van to go there - it's a ten minutes walk, not worth wasting gas at the price it is and certainly not worth losing my parking space in front of my place. But it was slow and rough going, cold as it was. I have asthma, which means I get all winded easily and in such bitter cold I need to cover up my mouth and to be all bundled up like I'm wearing a hijab, or else I start wheezing. Not good. The last thing I need is an asthma attack.

The city has opened up cafererias and waiting rooms to provide supplementary shelters for the homeless, and the existing shelters are vowing they will not turn anyone away even if they have to cord people on mattresses on the floor. My heart goes out for the cats in the alley. I wish I could keep more than the two I already have, but I'm wheezing and coughing enough as it is.

I need to start working in both my workshops and I can't do that with gloves on. Not to mention that the glues I use will not be working well at temperatures barely above freezing point. I just can't wait until this cold snap finally snaps. Brrrr.

Comment: #55
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Fri Jan 3, 2014 4:45 PM
I'm a mother of a 3-year-old and I very much agree with Lisa.
It seems that the toddler was on top of the older child against the child's will. This is the kind of thing that some parents think is a good idea. Surely their baby is so adorable that anyone would like to hold it. And while they're at it, they can take care of it for a while while the adults get a breather. Ummmm, no. My daughter is the center of my world but I am very much aware of the fact that she is not the center of other people's world.
I have seen this kind of thing happening more times than I can count. If the older child has no interest in babysitting, he shouldn't be made to do it. I'm guessing that the chances of a 10-year-old boy wanting to do this are close to zero. Also, a 10-year-old who doesn't have younger siblings may have no idea how to handle a toddler. He would probably be afraid that if he picked the baby up and removed it from his lap he would hurt it. That is why he called for help, but not a single one of the so-called adults bothered to do anything about it.
Even the LW, for all his indignation didn't treat the threat as serious at the time. The first time the boy uttered the so-called threat, he didn't do anything about it other than tell the toddler to come to him (!). If he had trully felt that the baby was in danger he would have gotten up and acted at once but it seems that like the rest of the adults he just didn't want to get up and take care of his child.
Comment: #56
Posted by: Emmie G
Fri Jan 3, 2014 5:36 PM
my moterhieo said thiet if uo9in go intot hte otherh room and shien will neveren come out aignea! min?me. thoruonw the baby out tiwhin the baththwwaterQ!!ha ha.motehrine funuie.ok biy!8
Comment: #57
Posted by: Lolley
Fri Jan 3, 2014 6:46 PM
Re: Kitty
Your wish has been granted!
Comment: #58
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Fri Jan 3, 2014 6:56 PM
Emily (#18), you wrote: "He should have said " Okay, I've had enough, uncle Bill, Aunt Annie, can one of you take David? He's squirmy and I think he wants you." "

This is something either a much older child or an adult says, not a ten year old. My question is how many times and how loudly would the ten year old have to say this to get LW1's attention? As it is, he may very well have tried something like this earlier and than had to say what the LW heard to finally get some action.

As it is, it's more than a bit of a stretch for a ten year old to be out of line in this situation. I think the LW is trying to assuage his own guilt by focusing the onus on his nephew, who I still believe was trying to do the right thing. Shame on him.
Comment: #59
Posted by: JustWinBaby
Fri Jan 3, 2014 7:06 PM
Re: JustWinBaby
"This is something either a much older child or an adult says, not a ten year old."
I was thnking that.

Comment: #60
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Fri Jan 3, 2014 7:16 PM
@Lise comment #40:
I drive. I bicycle. I walk. All through NYC, but I walk a little more than driving or bicycling. So I have the perspective to know that here, the jaywalkers are by leaps and bounds the biggest danger to everyone. Obviously there are some bicyclists in this category too, but fewer.
If you drive more than you walk or bicycle, then your experience with bicycles getting in your way will obviously be greater than vice versa. As a bicyclist (riding legally), I am bothered by impatient drivers more often than I'm bothered by bicycles when I'm driving. Many drivers think that bicyclists are supposed to make way for them, when actually bicycles follow pretty much the same laws as cars. Sure there are "rogue" dangerous people in each category, but as a driver and bicyclist - AND as a pedestrian - my safety is infringed upon the most by jaywalkers, by far.
Comment: #61
Posted by: Steve C
Fri Jan 3, 2014 7:23 PM
JustWin: "My question is how many times and how loudly would the ten year old have to say this to get LW1's attention?"
Indeed. One gets the impression that the kid would in fact have needed to throw *something*--preferably not his cousin--at LW's head in order to wedge his way into the conversation.
Comment: #62
Posted by: Khlovia
Fri Jan 3, 2014 7:59 PM
I really liked Datura's post (#27). So much so that I'm going to do my own take four years after that, when the nephew is 17 and a high school senior. My apologies for stealing much of your letter, Datura:
Dear Annie:
I am seventeen and getting ready to graduate from high school this June. When I was ten, I was at a family gathering when my then one year-old cousin started climbing on me. It was cute at first, but then he started pulling my hair, slapping me and trying to grab my glasses and the hand-held game I was playing with. At first, I tried gently pushing him away but he really wanted the game I was playing and he wouldn't stop. There wasn't really anywhere for me to go where I could get away from him. I tried to get the attention of his parents or my mother, but they were too wrapped up in their conversations. Finally, I called out "If someone doesn't get him off of me, I'm going to throw him." His dad called to him but didn't do anything else. So I yelled it again. Finally, his dad grabbed him and took him to another room, giving me a dirty look.
I know I shouldn't have said I'd throw him, but I didn't know what else to say to make someone intervene. I was only ten years old and I just didn't know what else to do. Mom had warned me before the party to be patient and very careful around the baby, so I knew then there'd be hell to pay if I made the kid cry. A few months later, my uncle and aunt sent out invitations to another party. They put a note into my mother's invitation telling her that I had threatened their son and that their child has the right to feel safe in his own home. They told her that we'd both be asked to leave if I threaten him again. Mom was upset and called my uncle and told him off. She and Dad argued about it after he told Mom not to go. Mom went anyway by herself while Dad and I went to the movies. She had a miserable time and now we always have to go. Now, whenever we get together, everyone is tense and my uncle and aunt act like I'm a monster.
My parents have made plans to throw a graduation party for me this summer, and of course, there inviting my uncle, aunt and now eight year old cousin. Frankly, I don't want them there but asking for them not to be invited is out of the question. Annie, this kid is a human wrecking ball. He's been to twelve schools and he's only halfway through third grade. Dad and I laugh about it because my uncle is totally clueless as to why the kid is always getting expelled. After giving up on the public schools, my uncle declared that public education is a waste and started sending to private schools, Dad told him point blank that the private schools aren't going to waste time with him and won't put up with the kid's shenanigans. My uncle countered that since they're paying for it, the school has to and will do what's necessary to reach their son. What my uncle didn't realize is that kicking a kid out of private school is a whole lot easier than it is in public. Dad told him there were plenty of kids ready to take his place and he's been proven right. Mom is sick about it and gets upset when Dad or I bring it up.
Meanwhile, my uncle and aunt still think I'm a monster, but my aunt has been a bit more open lately. I've been on my best behavior around them and Mom has lobbied on my behalf with her brother, but if anything, my uncle has gotten worse. I know a lot of it has to do with the school trouble, but it has nothing to do with me. I have been a good student and have the trust of my teachers, but it's now like my uncle can't stand the sight of me. Fortunately, I'm old enough now where I don't have to go to family gatherings anymore, usually because of work or swim/baseball practice. What I'm really scared of is what could happen at the party. I am having friends over and I don't want my cousin hassling my friends or the messing with the decorations. I don't want to stand by while the kid ruins the party, but I'm scared of what would happened if I physically restrained him. My uncle would go bananas and frankly, I'm afraid we would get into a fight, which would destroy Mom. Should I just go ahead and tell Mom I don't want the party? It just doesn't seem worth it anymore.
Comment: #63
Posted by: JustWinBaby
Fri Jan 3, 2014 8:06 PM
Re: Steve C
You would have a different experience in Montreal.

While Montreal is definitely jaywalker capital (it's like part of the culture here). Jaywalking in Montreal is basically a defensive strategy for pedestrians, because it is safer to cross in the middle of a block or on the red light at the corner than to follow the rules. (A case in point - that infamous time when I was hit by a car on my way to work, I was crossing on a corner on my light and I had priority) Most of the ones I've seen were doing it with a certain Latin nonchalence that did not amount to recklessness.

It goes differently with cyclists in Montreal, who are into-your-face aggressive and behaving like they have priority everywhere. They terrorise pedestrians on the sidewalks and are a public danger on the roads. You have to have eyes all around, because you never know when one of them will just shoot like an arrow out of nowhere, expecting you to mind-read his intentions and to be able to stop on a dime even when you're rolling a ton and a half on solid ice - real reassuring in a sleetstorm when one of them is weaving from one lane to another like a skier slalomming downhill. Astah feruhla, God help me.

I personally do not expect cyclists to move out of my way, they have their place on the road same as anybody else. But I WOULD expect them to follow the rules like they are supposed to. There are exceptions of course, but I have seen more crazy jaywalkers than I have seen cyclists stopping at a red light or signaling their intentions - two of each, I think so far, and I almost dropped my driving glasses both times, I was so stunned.

I do know that cycling in Montreal is very dangerous and that a lot of Montreal drivers are not all that competent behind the wheel, drive aggressively and behave like it's open season on pedestrians and cyclists. That's why I don't cycle in Montreal, being a pedestrian is bad enough. But bullying pedestrians and cycling like they're invulnerable like the Man of Steel and pissed off at the world like the Hulk is not a solution. ;-D

Comment: #64
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Fri Jan 3, 2014 9:18 PM
@Lise post #64 - fair enough. And there was a little more of that type of cyclist problem a couple years ago here, but NYC is in the process of taking out one (out of 4 or 5) driving lanes on most major avenues and replacing them with bicycle lanes (and boy are AAA and other drivers' agencies unhappy!), so now most rogue bicyclists are learning to drive more lawfully.
Also I should clarify that, like all NYers, I do jaywalk. BUT I do it safely, when there are no cars OR bicycles coming (unlike most), and I do not yell at someone if I make a jaywalking error (unlike many). But I admit I have lost my temper a few times at jaywalkers who I barely missed hitting. I HAVE hit 3 over the past 10 years; but only 1 yelled at me. A car hit me once - his mistake - threw me off my bicycle and ran over the bike, destroying it. HE felt entitled because I did not move out of his way when he was trying to turn left, even though I drove legally. Didn't act sorry. He was about to drive away, but I threatened to call the cops (which I should have) if he didn't pay me in cash for a new bike immediately, so he did, grumbling the whole time that it wasn't even a new bike.
Anyway, despite that, the jaywalkers are still the most dangerous here. Pedestrians here whine about the dangerous bicycles, but they are almost always in the wrong, in my observation.
Comment: #65
Posted by: Steve C
Fri Jan 3, 2014 10:45 PM
Re: Lise Brouillette #58
She must have been lurking for a while, just waiting for someone to miss her and ask about her. I just LOVE Lolley. Interpreting what she writes is a great mental challenge! :D
Comment: #66
Posted by: Kitty
Sat Jan 4, 2014 1:35 AM
Re: JustWinBaby (#63):

Gee, and all the poor 1-year old is guilty of is toddling around like, well, a 1-year old. Now we're writing HIM off as a monster.

Worse, we've turned this whole (relatively) minor incident into a watershed moment -- a simple ill-made remark -- and turned it into something that could destroy a family. Wow! And to think all I speculated on was the family doing things that are normal at family gatherings, like watching TV or talking or playing cards. Man alive!

I predict that, if everyone just cools off and puts this out of mind, that both the 1 and 10 year olds turn out just fine.
Comment: #67
Posted by: Bobaloo
Sat Jan 4, 2014 6:34 AM
Bobaloo, the baby WILL likely grow into an human wrecking ball if LW and his wife insist that their child's rights supersede everyone else's. And that's the entitlement mentality that pervades LW's description -- that his child was "threatened" verbally, and that it's beside the point that his nephew needs a little breathing space in which not to be poked, prodded, pulled, clambered over, spit up on by a sticky, possibly stinky, loud toddler.

Comment: #68
Posted by: hedgehog
Sat Jan 4, 2014 8:05 AM
Whoops, mean to add this:

Because LW and his wife ARE responsible for the fracas, as his sister claims. Based on what he's written, he's wrong to suggest that their nephew might have a tantrum and threaten their child. That's using a nuclear bomb to kill a fly, and so it should be no surprise that there's fallout.
Comment: #69
Posted by: hedgehog
Sat Jan 4, 2014 8:08 AM
Re: hedgehog (#68)

" … (A)nd that it's beside the point that his nephew needs a little breathing space in which not to be poked, prodded, pulled, clambered over, spit up on by a sticky, possibly stinky, loud toddler."

Nobody is denying that the kid needs a little breathing room to not be bothered, as you suggest. But what about his other cousins or other kids who are closer to his age … what if they also poke, prod, pull, clamber over, etc.?

And this was a single, isolated incident from how I read it. For me, this was not par for the course for these parents; after all, we have no history that this happened at previous parties. The only hint that they were not immediately sure what to do is, "Being new parents, we were not sure what to do." In fact, at least once, as the LW indicates, "I called for my son to come to me, hoping that my sister would correct her son's behavior. But my son didn't move." Pretty clear to me that he was trying to soothe the afflicted's rights (the 10-year-old's) and that the 1-year-old was being, well, a 1-year-old (i.e., already trying to test mama and dada). After all, how did YOUR children, when they were 1 year old, behave when they were toddling around the house, doing what they weren't supposed to be doing and didn't immediately respond when you said, "Come here!" (A basic command even a 1-year-old, assuming they can walk, should be able to understand.)

Again, regardless of who is right or wrong, EVERYBODY needs to calm down and forget this incident. This does not have to be a watershed moment – that is, one where the Waltons turn into the Bundys.
Comment: #70
Posted by: Bobaloo
Sat Jan 4, 2014 9:14 AM
Re: hedgehog (#69)

"Based on what he's written, he's wrong to suggest that their nephew might have a tantrum and threaten their child."

I agree the LW is over-reacting. But then again, when a kid at school tells a teacher or another student, "I'll kill you," we're trained – right or wrong – to take it seriously, and before he even gets a chance to finish spewing the word "you," he's got his ass hauled to the principal's office to await expulsion.

Sad to say, because of all the shootings, we've gotten past the Henry Fonda/Juror 8/"12 Angry Men" school of thought where "I'll kill you" is dismissed as an empty, idle threat just said in the heat of anger and frustration, and – not that they're in the right – it could be for these parents as well. In other words, yes, the kid was probably saying it out of frustration that the kid is still next to him and he's gotten no response … but the parents have no idea if he's actually going to follow through. (Which is why I state earlier that the kid who said "I'll throw him" should have been reprimanded.)
Comment: #71
Posted by: Bobaloo
Sat Jan 4, 2014 10:15 AM
Re: Steve C #65
Aw well, different places have different realities, I guess.

There are tons of bicycle paths here, and special cycling events all throughout summer, this is a bicycle town. Unfortunately, giving them space and legitimacy doesn't give them manners, and I cannot count the times I've seen a bicycle riding the sidewalk right next to the bicycle path. OTOH, plink ONE TOE on the bicycle path because you need to get to the other side of the street, and you get yelled at loudly and crudely - I suppose they expect you to grow wings. Makes you want to line 'em up against a wall and shoot them with sh!t, I tell you.

Oh, I jaywalk too. Crossing in between blocks or at the corner on the red when there are no cars turning IS the safest way to cross a street here. One street cop once tried to admonish me about that, telling me I was in danger of getting hit. I snapped back, "The one time I was hit, I had priority!" THAT shut him up, niuk niuk niuk niuk. ;-D

Comment: #72
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Sat Jan 4, 2014 10:54 AM
Bobaloo (#67). I think I can see where you're coming from, but given the LWs actions and that this is an ongoing situation, the one year old could very well turn into a monster if the current pattern continues. Many of us unfortunately have seen the end results of poor parenting, and they're not pretty. Right now we have a family rift with no end in sight, so I don't think neither Datura's (#27) nor my (#63) look into the future was that far fetched. It seems to me that only the LW, who started it, can put a stop to this situation, and the sooner he does it the better.
Comment: #73
Posted by: JustWinBaby
Sat Jan 4, 2014 8:37 PM
Bobaloo,you have been misled by the LW, because you apparently believe LW was "trying" to relieve his nephew's distress-- you believe that a 1 YO "should understand" his parent wants him to come when called.

But as LW himself knows (and disingenuously writes around) any parent who lives with a toddler KNOWS that calling a 1 YO is a dicey proposition. If the child is engaged in something fascinating, like interacting with another child, odds are slim to none that the toddler will hear and obey. This is part of normal toddler development

It's why I chose not to leave my toddlers to run amok and wreak havoc on their older cousins. They played with my kids while my husband or I supervised closely, intervening when the older kids wanted to stop playing and go read a book, play a video game or just talk. Often this was a win-win, because it meant some extra time with our nephews as well.

Would you have agreed that calling to the toddler was evidence of a parent "trying" to redirect him if the child were running toward a busy highway, or if the toddler were sticking his fingers in another toddler's eyes? No? Well, IMO, the LW has behaved abominably throughout. No pass from me.
Comment: #74
Posted by: hedgehog
Mon Jan 6, 2014 4:52 AM
Re: hedgehog (#74)

So, just to clarify, do you think the father was making *no* (as in zero, zilch, nothing, nada) attempt to relieve his nephew's distress, either because: 1. Kids will be kids; and/or 2. Because he was so engaged in whatever else he was doing (see above posts) that correcting the situation would be too much of a bother, cause him to possibly miss out on whatever, etc.

And of course the answer to the second question was no. Then again, you do have parents who think he kid would have the wherewithall to – assuming this might have been at a backyard barbecue – not run out on a busy street or because they're so fascinated with that game of bags or whatever that it would take too much time to correct the given situation, interrupt their train of thought, miss a play, etc.
Comment: #75
Posted by: Bobaloo
Mon Jan 6, 2014 8:34 AM
I think the father was making no effort because he didn't care if his nephew was being mauled by a toddler -- that his own comfort was more important than his nephew's. And possibly that his kid was so cute that everyone else in the area, nephew included, should be thanking their lucky stars for the chance to take care of this charmed toddler. It's rude and selfish.

It's why I wrote my first response above -- HIS kid is the center of the universe, and all other kids are secondary if not tertiary.




Comment: #76
Posted by: hedgehog
Mon Jan 6, 2014 4:47 PM
LW1: You're not just new parents. You are complete morons. What 1-year-old comes when their parents call them? They are still learning the meaning of basic words — they haven't yet learned to do everything mom and dad want. You two better shape up and read some books on parenting. There are also books that detail week-by-week the growth expectations of a child up to several years old. BUY IT.

You sound very passive when you say you called for your son to come, and therefore it's the nephew's fault. Why didn't you go get up off your butt and pick up your kid? He's a baby for Pete's sake. You risked your nephew actually throwing your own son? What would you have done if he did? Your baby would have suffered brain damage akin to Shaken Baby Syndrome, and you'd be in jail for not protecting him. Do us a favor - don't have any more kids - you are not qualified parents.

That said, the nephew has issues as well. The nephew and your son should be be around each other, and you should not be around your son.
Comment: #77
Posted by: Salty
Mon Jan 6, 2014 8:13 PM
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