Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Reader in a Terrible Tate!
Every week I go to praise team practice with my daughter and son-in-law, so that I can play with my grandson, Noah, while they're there. My daughter's a working mom, and she likes to have Noah there so that she can see him when she's not needed on stage. We've been doing this for all of Noah's eight months, and it works really well for everyone.
The last few weeks, another mom has brought her daughter, a little girl of 6 or 7. Tate is a very naughty little girl. She plays too hard with Noah, trashes the nursery, yells loudly and disrupts practice, and doesn't obey anyone. This mom is a lead singer, so she's 'on' for the whole practice--she pretty much lets Tate run wild.
Normally, I wouldn't bother you with a dilemma with such an obvious solution: I'd just go to the worship leader and say something like "Could you have Tate's mother bring a babysitter to watch Tate? I'm really only here to watch Noah, and he really needs my full attention." Or I'd just talk to Tate's mother. Something like that.
But it's not that easy (it never is, is it?) Here are the other circumstances that make the solution above less than ideal:
1. This is not my church. I don't know any of the people there at all (except for my daughter and son-in-law), and the idea of confronting someone who's pretty much a stranger makes me break out in hives.
2. The worship team is already a fairly contentious group, from my observation, with guess who--Tate's mama--at the center of most of the contention. I really don't want this woman mad at me. She's mean. And I don't want her mad at my daughter and son-in-law, either.
So...do I just stay home with Noah on praise team nights, giving my daughter less time with him? Or do I send my son-in-law to talk to the music leader or Tate's mother, knowing that it would make an already testy situation worse? Or do I just continue to be there for both Noah and Tate, sort of the de facto child care worker for praise team nights?
Or is there another brilliant solution that I haven't thought of?
I await your wisdom.
In a Tate of Confusion
Dear In a Tate of Confusion,
We are all about brilliance here--unfortunately, we can't in good conscience recommend the BEST plan which would include slipping her some Benadryl. That's only appropriate when dealing with our own children.
You're in a tight/tate spot, for sure. You're there to help your daughter and enjoy your grandchild, not take on the Tate of Madness swirling around the seven-year-old. I think you would agree, though, that when an opportunity for positively influencing another child (no matter how obnoxious she is) comes along, we should take it. I'm assuming then in this given situation having an impact (without using the back of your hand) is NOT possible—that you've tried befriending her, bringing her chocolate, showing her how to play with Noah, and gently making suggestions like: let's not hurl the Weebles at the zebras climbing into the ark.
If that's the case, here's our advice. Take two to four weeks off from attending the rehearsals. Stay home with baby Noah and enjoy him to your heart's content. Mama will miss him, but hopefully it will only be temporary. Let Tate's Mama deal with the full brunt of her daughter's behavior. Let Tate's mama clean up the nursery, and anything else produced by the undisciplined child. Perhaps another member of the group will even say something to her.
A few weeks of you not being there should clue them in that they have to find their own solution for Tate Care. Ask your daughter to monitor the situation. If all goes well, you should be able to return. If there were any old patterns of interaction between you and Tate, try to establish completely new ones. Don't return with a weary and negative attitude. Give the little imp the benefit of the doubt. Maybe even speak words into her that she can rise to.
You may want to think about randomly staying at home now and then so nobody gets used to you being there again. Keep them on their toes. Put THEM in a Tate of Confusion.
Let us know what happens—we're in a Tate of Hope.