Saturday, February 23, 2008

What Would You Do?

A couple weeks ago, Kyle and I went home to Houston for my mom's birthday. Sitting at the dinner table, my family wanted to hear all about my new job, which prompted my sister to say, "Oh yeah, so now that you are employed, you and Kyle are DINKs: dual income, no kids." She failed, however to provide an equally charming nickname for herself and Charlton. (SIOKs?)

It got me thinking about all the stereotypes and assumptions that are often associated with people without children. I won't name them, mostly because they are incredibly unflattering, and I certainly hope that they aren't true of Kyle and I. But one thing I have found from being a DINK, and a SINK for that matter, is that you have to be very, very careful about the comments and suggestions you make to people with kids, and especially to the kids themselves.

Not that this rule is strictly exclusive to people without children. I've seen several uncomfortable situations between sets of parents where 1 set is trying to offer the other "helpful" advice. It's not pretty, people. Not only is advice ruled out, but giving someone else's child instruction, even among Christians, is sometimes a touchy subject.

So I try not to make too many comments or give opinions unless directly asked. As an opinionated person, I don't always succeed, but at least I have goals. (We DINKs are known for our ambitious goals, after all).

However, yesterday presented a perfect example of a time where I did not want to be involved in correcting someone's child, but felt thrown into it in order to not have a $800 phone bill.

I was sitting in the doctor's waiting room yesterday, peacefully reading my newspaper with my purse on the end table next to me. There was a little boy around 2 or 3 playing, with his (very young) mom sitting in a chair nearby. Suddenly, Billy* spotted my purse, and came over and starting touching it, eyes all aglow, trying to look inside.

My response was to simply laugh. I really thought it was pretty funny, and I didn't feel at all responsible or concerned because I knew his mom had to be watching. And although she was watching, she didn't really say anything. Honestly, I think she was curious what he was going to do next. Finally she corrected him and he skipped off to something else.

About 5 minutes later, he came back and started feeling into my purse again. This time I was a little more taken aback. The mom still just looked on without saying anything. After another long pause of Billy coveting my belongings, she started walking over to my chair.

"Billy stop. You'd think I'd taught him to be a pick-pocket."

At this point, it's just awkward.

"Um, well, there's not any money in there! "

I go back to reading my newspaper quietly. And then guess what? Billy comes back a third time. He had apparently gained some confidence, because this time he took my phone out of my purse.

I couldn't take it anymore.

"No...let's not take my phone out of my purse, please." After which, I carefully removed my phone from his mischievous little hands and put it in my purse.

I wasn't quite sure what would happen next. I didn't know if the mom was going to yell at me. "What right do you have to correct my child?! I raise my child to make his own decisions! You have to be tolerant of others' choices!"

You just can't really tell these days. So instead of waiting for her to starting throwing blows, I went to the Ladies' room and returned to the waiting room- this time in a different section than Billy and his mom.

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.