With kids, it's always good to have a Plan B for whatever you are doing, especially if it's something fun for them. Things go wrong - that's just life. This is particularly true when you put a crowd of random kids together.
Tonight my husband wanted to take my boys to a little indoor playground, Go Play Cafe'. It's inside an indoor soccer and gymnastics center. There are tubes and slides bigger than you would find at McDonald's. It's cool enough that my ten-year-old was very excited to go.
I looked at my ten-year-old with my most serious mommy face and asked if he thought he could handle his little brother. He had absolutely no problem with that and had already planned exactly what to do with him. I told him if there were kids there that weren't acting right, he should immediately abort the mission. I told him if he had to abort, they could go get ice cream and he could choose the place.
My husband thought it was amazing that I offered a backup plan and that it involved ice cream. He was in complete awe of me. He hugged me and told me I was the best mother ever! Apparently his mom didn't have a plan B for every plan A.
I told him you never know who's going to be there - the parents can't go in, so it's really all on my ten-year-old to make a good choice to take care of his little brother. There's no way to know if it's going to be very crowded or if there will be kids there that have behavior problems or are just too spazzy to be careful with a two year old in the tubes with them. There's a decent possibility our little guy will refuse to go in. You never know.
"Sometimes you have to abort the mission," I told my husband. "Stuff happens. Sometimes kids throw up on the slide."
My son agreed. Apparently he had already contemplated the possibility of vomit and told us his plan if that happened. "If someone throws up, I'll stop and push him back up the slide like this." He used his hands to demonstrate how he would help his baby brother escape untouched by the vomit.
Everyone was happy with the backout plan. My husband told my son that he could just come and talk to him if something happens. I said, "No. He already knows what to say - it's MISSION ABORTED!" That's all he has to say, and they can happily leave and go get ice cream instead. No big deal. No pressure. No explanations needed.
The cool thing is we both trust my son to look out for his little brother. He's just that kind of kid. I am confident a big part of the way he relates to and watches out for his baby brother has to do with the way his older sister nurtured and mothered him. There is no way my daughter would let something bad happen to my ten-year-old, and no way my ten-year-old will let anything happen to my two-year-old. So maybe I am a good mother after all - not every second, but generally, overall, pretty much good enough.