How do parents feel about other people correcting/being firm with their children? I don't have any of my own, but I did enough babysitting and lifeguarding as a teenager to still feel compelled to set and enforce rules with children who appear to be really wild/unsupervised. On two occasions over the holiday weekend, I've been at a friend's pool. Friend is out of town with family, but generously allows those still in town to enjoy the pool. A friend of this friend, in town to care for an elderly relative, has also been going to the pool to let her kids blow off steam. I don't know this mom that well, but we've met a few times, and I really like her. She's been crazy overloaded recently, with providing nearly 24-hour-a-day care for her parent, and keeping two boys under the age of 8 from spontaneously combusting. I get it. Throw 'em in the pool!

The thing is, they don't seem to have enough boundaries/safety measures drilled into their heads to be playing in/around the pool with just random adults like myself who feel the need to step in with them. I've been the Wicked Witch twice—once, the oldest was outside with no parental supervision, carrying around a bag of fireworks that he started to set up like he was going to start lighting them. Again, this kid is in my opinion too young to be handling fireworks without supervision, and definitely too young/unaware to think things like, "There are all kinds of trees and brush above and around us, it hasn't rained in over a week, and this is therefore not a good place to light fireworks. Also, the person who owns this house is not here, so I can't know if it would be okay." So I said, in the old babysitter voice, "No fireworks," and he pouted and was all devastated about that. The next visit, he was running full tilt around the pea gravel/concrete aggregate pool deck, and I said, "WALK, DON'T RUN." Which prompted his mom to start enforcing that, although it seems clear he doesn't respect her, and I think I might have embarrassed her or made her feel like her kids are "bad."

I don't think wild-acting kids are bad, but I do think they need to be intervened with, and basic safety needs to be enforced with them, even if the parent can't/won't do it. My friends, siblings, cousins, and I were all crazy-energetic when we were little. But we knew not to run around pools, we knew we were only allowed to light one firework at a time, handed off from a supervising adult, and we were used to listening to and respecting whosever parents were on the child-watching shift. I think I just wish I knew this mom well enough to know how it all came across, and I really hope I didn't make her feel more overwhelmed or bad or anything.