And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~ Kahlil Gibran

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Judge Not?

I am usually the first to say that it is wrong to judge people before you get to know them. I truly believe that you can't tell what kind of heart a person has by how they look.

And yet.....

Big Sprout has a new friend, I will call her Pip. Pip lives in an apt building not too far from us that has a terrible reputation. Remember I have lived in this area almost all my life, and this building is BAD. Drugs, drinking, theft, child neglect (and I am sure abuse), the whole nine. I can't say that Pip's family is like this, I haven't met any of them. It could just be that the price was right and they didn't know or care about the rep of the building. Pip always looks a little dirty and her clothes are a little raggy, but does that mean she is a bad kid? She is quiet around me, but she hasn't known me long and it could be that she is shy. I don't know.

Yesterday Big Sprout invited Pip along to piano and then awana club. I wasn't happy about it, but only because it was last minute and I was feeling rushed anyway. Besides, what kid wants to watch their friend get a piano lesson? Anyway, I gave in and let Pip come along. I thought that if nothing else it would give me an opportunity to observe a little and find out if this was a friendship I would allow.
I was NOT going to take this child without some contact with her folks, though, so I wrote them a note with my phone number and asking permission to take their daughter for the evening. I told them where we were going and when I expected to be back. The response? A small slip of paper on it with a phone number. That was it.

So I took the girls with me, and I have to say that Pip did really well. She was polite and warmed up considerably the longer she spent time with me. She was sweet to Little Sprout and REALLY liked AWANA club. She chattered away on the way home about how she was going to ask her mom if she could join AWANAs and go with us every week.

So here I am, torn. My first instinct is not to trust this child, just because of the environment that she comes from. Yet she seems to be an okay kid. I hate the thought that I could be a judgemental b*tch, but the fact is that I just may be. I worry that I don't know anything about her parents. They seem to let her run a lot more than I let Big Sprout. I worry that she will be a bad influence on Big Sprout. On the other hand, if it is just that her folks don't have a lot of cash, who am I to say that makes them bad people? Just because they live in a building notorious for not-so-great tenants, does that mean that they follow the pattern? Would it not be better for me to open my home to her and give her a safe and fun place to come? Is it fair that I am so cautious with her just because her family doesn't live like mine?

So far I am just letting things progress and keeping a close eye on everything. I am hoping that time will show whether this little girl will be good or bad for Big Sprout. I am hoping that nothing bad happens.

I hate this


Kati said...

Some thoughts. I've got a coworker who lives in an apartment complex of the sort Pip's parents live in. Her hubby's a bit of a dead-beat who doesn't like working at any one place for too long and would rather move back home with his Mom & Dad (who, according to my coworker, have big $$$ but are personally intolerable). My coworker is a nice person, very reserved & somewhat stand-offish due to her circumstances and how that makes her feel about her place in the world. Her two kids are good kids, the older boy is smart as a whip. BUT, there's a lot of stigma attatched because of where C & her family live.

If it were me, seeing as Pip is already looking to be a nice kid, I'd keep up with giving her the benefit of the doubt. And, even if her parents are less than savory themselves, doesn't mean Pip's not a good kid. Sometimes good kids manage to find their way out of bad situations on the kindness of somebody who was willing to take them (not literally) for who they are, familial warts & all. I'd say that if Pip isn't being a bad influence on Big Sprout, and she handles complying with your rules well, maybe ya'll will be a good influence on HER life, no matter who or what her parents are. *shrug*

Best of luck in this sitch!

barefoot gardener said...



I know that part of my issue is that I got burned by my step-teens. DH will kill me when he finds out I said this, but the way he and his ex raised their girls until I came into the picture was not at all the way I want my kids raised. Still, I tried with his girls and they stole from me, egged my house and my car, lied to me, ran away, brought drugs into my home, turned my and Big Sprout's lives upside down, and basically made me miserable for 3 years.

I know that is not an excuse for not giving Pip a chance. I am trying. But the stuff I have been through with the other girls has made me very guarded, ya know? It's hard to believe in the basic goodness of the human race when you have been sh*t on so much.

Ach, that sounds like whining, and I hate whining.

You are right. I would hate for someone to judge my Sprouts just because DH and I are po' folks, so I will do my best not to judge Pip and her family. Who knows? Pip might turn out to be the best friend Big Sprout ever had...

e4 said...

Yeah, it doesn't matter what kind of judgments your brain wants to make - what matters are your actions, and you did it right.

One of my best friends growing up had horrible parents. His mom was on her fourth kid with four different last names and no idea how to be a parent. His step dad was supposedly born-again but verbally abusive and I'm almost certain a drug user.

My mom didn't care. She was always inviting my friend for dinner, letting him spend the night, taking him with us on field trips, and even a few week-long vacations. He still remembers the first time he ever ate a salad, when we were on a road trip through New England.

If he'd been a jerk (like another friend I had for a while), she wouldn't have done all these things. But she saw that he was a good kid and tried to do a tiny bit of what his parents could not - give him a good role model.

So don't judge Pip by her parents or by other kids, just by her actions.

I think yours were spot on.

barefoot gardener said...

Thanks, e4-

I hate having to wonder all the time if I am doing right.

Why can't kids come with instruction manuals?! Or heck, LIFE needs an instruction manual!

Kati said...

Well, you're right that your experience with the step's would be enough to make anybody skittish, and rightfully so. But, laying down the law for Pip, from the get-go, is likely to forstall any of these type occurances, if she's as good a kid as she sounds. She'll know that the only way she's going to get to hang out with Big Sprout & your family is to abide by your rules & not screw up. It's a bit of a risk, but what isn't???

Also wishing immensely that there was a fool-proof instruction manual with not only kids, but marriage. *shaking head*