They say children say the darndest things.
But sometimes their innocent words can lead to adult misunderstandings.
One 30-year-old mother dealt with the fallout from a conflict with another parent at a local park. So she turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback on how she handled it.
Redditor Codename-cushy asked:
“AITA for stopping another parent from talking to my kid at the park?”
The Original Poster (OP) explained:
“Today I took my son (6) to a local park. He had brought a small ball to play with, that he and another kid were rolling to each other down a spiral slide. At some point the ball shot off the end of the slide and my kid lost track of it.”
“When we found it another little boy (younger, probably about 2 or 3 years old) had it and didn’t initially want to give it back. My son started to tear up and get upset, but didn’t yell or say anything mean, and the other kid’s dad intervened and made his kid give back the ball.”
“I thought the situation was done, so I called my kid over to me. As he turned, still visibly unhappy from the altercation he said ‘mom that kid tried to steal my ball’.”
Then things went sideways.
“I went to respond to calm him down but before I could talk the other kid’s dad stopped my son and began to lecture him about how his son wasn’t stealing, he was just little and didn’t understand.”
“I made my way over trying to interrupt the guy and diffuse the situation calmly, but he continued to talk over the top of me and told my kid that he ‘thought it was time that he (my son) went home’. It was then that I got louder and in between this guy and my son and told him that he needed to leave my kid alone and that it was inappropriate for him to chastise someone else’s kid like that.”
“He started to argue with me and say that ‘it wasn’t inappropriate to talk to a kid “politely” at the park’ after a few more short words which admittedly got a little heated I told him to leave us alone and that I was done talking to him. He continued to let his kid follow mine around the park until he was so uncomfortable he asked if we could leave.”
“As we left the guy made loud snide comments about how rude I had been to what I assume was his wife who had stayed silent throughout the exchange.”
So now the OP wants to know:
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided the OP was not the a**hole.
“NTA. This guy really should have left y’all alone after your kid got his ball back. It’s definitely not his place to try to teach your child anything.” ~ out4blood2643
“Things like this can escalate quickly too. Like, this guy could have gotten violent.”
“Way back in the day my best friend brought her 3 year old and infant to the park. The 3 year old was playing with another toddler and they got into an argument over a stick (as toddlers do).”
“My friend went over to tell her kid to give the stick back and the other kid’s dad got there first. The man grabbed my friend’s kid by the arm and snatched the stick out of his hand and started screaming in his face.”
“When my friend tried to intervene he picked her kid up and started yelling at her calling her racial slurs and saying she was a bad mother cause a three year old wasn’t taking turns. My friend was terrified.”
“She threatened to call the cops if he didn’t put her kid down and actually had to pull out her phone and start dialing 911 before the guy put her kid down and dragged his own away. It was probably the scariest thing to happen and both were traumatized by it.” ~ AerwynFlynn
“NTA for standing up to that guy but man I hate when kids bring toys to public playgrounds, leave them laying around, and then pitch fits when other (usually younger) kids find them and play with them.”
“Having to force a tearful toddler, who doesn’t understand, to give up a toy to the kid who supposedly brought it and abandoned it really ruins the day at the park. I do it, each and every time, over several years with multiple kids, and it’s super annoying every time.”
“I don’t let my kids take toys to the playground for that exact reason.” ~ rngal3
“NTA as other have said, a friendly comment along the lines of he’s little, he didn’t realise it was someone else’s ball would have been appropriate, anything further is over the line.”
“If you had responded to your child saying the younger one tried to steal his ball by saying something derogatory about the guy’s parenting you would be the a**hole and he might have a reason to speak further.”
“You didn’t though, so he’s definitely the a**hole here.” ~ Winter_Cat7555
“NTA. OP I could see why the dad would be upset. He’s right when he says his little one is too young to understand the concept of stealing.
“It’s not a situation that warranted his involvement with your child. And the dad didn’t have the right to talk over you or tell you ‘it was time for him to go home’.”
“It’s a f*cking ball. He didn’t even give you a chance to parent.”
“And even if he did, his son is 2. He’s not insulted.”
“The dad knows you don’t think of his son as a thief. End of situation.
“I’m glad you stood up for yourself.” ~ wholesomedust
Although a few Redditors felt both parents behaved poorly in front of their children.
“ESH. You both overreacted and escalated.
“The dad obviously escalated to a new level, but you becoming upset that he was ‘lecturing your child’ and cutting him off is [a**hole] (AH) territory. There is nothing wrong with the dad calmly explaining to your upset child that his son was not trying to be malicious but is just too young to understand the concept of ownership and stealing.”
“When you cut him off, you made him feel like an AH for calmly defending his child and diffusing the situation by unnecessarily getting your back up. That’s when he took it to a 10, which makes him an AH.”
“You are both the a**hole. Learn how to be functioning members of a community.” ~ aspiringmom17
“ESH. He’s a much worse a**hole for blowing up, saying your kid needed to go home, and being snide. But his initial reaction to your kid wasn’t out of line, even if you didn’t love his tone, and your complaint about the toddler following your kid around is very petty unless the little one was physically grabbing at or getting in the way of your son.”
“Unless I literally physically restrain my 2 year old, she spends every park visit following around other kids to watch them. Because she is 2 years old, absolutely enamored of ‘big kids’, and that’s what toddlers do.”
“There is nothing wrong with your son being frustrated by that! But expecting a toddler to observe social norms or a parent to constantly redirect them, given a toddler’s attention span, isn’t reasonable either.” ~ schoolsout4evah
“ESH. Your kid was wrong to accuse a toddler of stealing something he abandoned on the playground after it went flying off. He’s 6.”
“He probably should know that wasn’t stealing but 6 year olds are not always rational creatures. They’re 6. Goes with the territory.”
“There was nothing wrong with the dad defending his kid and explaining he was too young to understand. You could have just agreed because it was true, your kid had his ball, and the situation was over but you didn’t.”
“Once you start a verbal pissing match over a stupid playground ball and who can dare utter a word to your son you’ve already lost. You both acted like AHs here and the whole ‘Mama bear’ excuse is lame.”
“Your kid accused his, he explained that wasn’t the case. If the situation were reversed I am willing to bet you wouldn’t have just stood there silent and waited around for the other parent to arrive and set the record straight.”
“Are you seriously going to blame a 2 year old for following your kid on the playground? Why wouldn’t he ‘let’ the children play together?”
“They are little kids! They weren’t arguing with one another, you two were.”
“You were rude, he was rude back, you both acted less mature than your kids.” ~ ellieacd
But the vast majority of Redditors were willing to give mom a pass on her behavior.
The OP came back and thanked Reddit for their insight.
“Wow, I did not expect to get so many responses so quickly.”
“Thank you all so much for your kind words, I definitely feel a lot better about how I handled the situation.”
Reddit was almost fully in agreement with this mom.
She should have been allowed to address her son’s comment before the other parent stepped in, but maybe she didn’t need to go “Mama bear” in response.
Unfortunately that didn’t happen and a day at the park was ruined for both families.