... heck is other people's children.
So we're at this community event and inside because it is raining like the Second Flood is coming, again. Kiddo runs over to the glass doors to watch the beeps (kiddoese for "cars") go by. There are two little girls already there, a blonde and a brunette, in a nook they've created behind the couch. "You have to be in the club to sit here," they inform us sternly.
"Oh. Well, we formed our own club," I say. Which mystifies them, and I figure that ends it. They all more or less coexist for a little bit until kiddo runs back toward the table where our food is. He keeps running back and forth, door to table, beeps to Daddy, and the girls have evidently decided to adopt him, like a stray puppy, so they keep asking questions about him, like "how old is he?" "can he count to 6? can he count to 7? can he count to 100?" which at least is cute. The girls pop by our table periodically, to demonstrate their talent at balancing water bottles on their heads.
So DH and I end up sitting on the couch for a bit (since kiddo, aside from two slices of watermelon, wasn't showing much interest in food) and the girls come back, still intent on protecting their "club" space. The brunette (clearly the Princess Bee to the blonde's Wannabe) announces she's getting food, comes back with a half-eaten hamburger roll (hamburger mysteriously missing) and tries to feed it to kiddo. I politely say no thanks, he's eaten. She tries again. And again. And again. Now both girls are chattering "Just give it to him!" even though I've already said I don't want him getting other people's germs, and have physically taken the roll and handed it back to her. Kiddo, of course, sees bread shoved in his face and then denied, and starts crying. "Just give it to him, he's going to cry anyway if you don't!" says the brunette.
From entirely across the room, the girl's mom calls out, "Are you making that boy cry?" but since she doesn't actually get up to investigate, nothing happens except that the girls try feeding the roll to DH instead. I briefly think black thoughts.
Kiddo, already overtired, never fully recovers from this incident and we leave shortly thereafter. As we're walking downstairs toward the exit, the brunette runs after us to say, "Next time put him in a cage or a stroller!" I decide four-letter words would be inappropriate, say, "Okay" and leave.
Seriously: a cage?
When I was a kid, if I had pulled one-tenth of the rudeness these two exhibited I would've been made to regret it. Nobody taught them to never never sass a grownup? I heard the girl's mom ask her as we left, "What did you say to them?" and somehow I know when she told them, they said, "Oh, isn't that funny!" instead of "That was very rude, we're leaving right now, enjoy your time in the time-out chair."
It's still pretty hard to gauge how hard-line I should be in these circumstances, and I tend to be hands-0ff with kids not my own. I guess I keep assuming -- wrongly -- that kids will show you respect, even if they don't to your kid. Maybe I should've just taken the roll and tossed it into the trash. Maybe I should've stalked back up those stairs and said to the girl's mom, "That was incredibly rude of your daughter and I'd like an apology."
And maybe I'm getting worked up over nothing. Worse things will happen in preschool, I'm sure.