MIL cuts your kid's hair without asking: Is it OK? - Mothering Forums

View Poll Results: Is it OK for your MIL to cut your kid's hair?
Yes - we share responsibility in the child's appearance OR if it was necessary, she can do it 3 2.05%
No - this is an overstepping of bounds 131 89.73%
Maybe - explain in comment 12 8.22%
None of the above 0 0%
Voters: 146. You may not vote on this poll

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#1 of 68 Old 06-03-2011, 11:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I picked up my kid from my mother-in-law, an amazing woman with infinite energy to devote to helping me, and noticed his hair was... different.


"Oh, his hair was poking him in the face," she said, "so I cut it a little."

 

The hair that I'd been growing out for months was gone, and his bangs were crooked.  He had a very bad bowl cut.  In anticipation for our upcoming vacation, I'd been growing it out so that I could cut his hair (or get it cut professionally) before leaving on the trip, so that he'd look like a dashing toddler in our vacation photos.  He has very thin hair, and finally has a nontrivial amount of it, so growing it out was important in making his head look full.

 

When I heard that she'd cut his hair without asking me, inside, I was mad.  But I said, "Thank you," because my mother-in-law's culture prevents me from expressing criticism of an elder.

 

For me, I feel this was an overstepping of the boundaries.  It's my kid's hair, and she should have at least asked first, or, even better, gently suggested that I cut his hair, if it was indeed poking him in the face (usually I brush it to the side so that it doesn't bother him).  

 

Now he has terribly short, crooked bangs, and I'm upset.

 

What about you -- is it OK for your MIL to cut your kid's hair?  What would you do?


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#2 of 68 Old 06-03-2011, 11:24 AM
 
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I would have been really, really angry.  I probably would have mumbled through saying something like "I wish you had asked me first."  Sometimes people's "help" is not helpful.  I am sorry for what happened greensad.gif I get what you are saying about trying to be respectful of her culture, but I still would have been seriously displeased and p.o.'d.


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#3 of 68 Old 06-03-2011, 12:28 PM
 
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I have a friend whose MIL did this. It was her last unsupervised visit with the kids.  (Not just because of that--it was just the last straw in her case.)  I personally think it's totally overstepping and I would be mad.

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#4 of 68 Old 06-03-2011, 12:29 PM
 
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My own mother-in-law had this happen to her when she was a young mom.  Dh was about 3 and had the most beautiful locks of curly black hair.  She left him with his grandmother (her mother-in-law) and she had cut it short.  Dh is 36.  MIL carries a grudge to this day.

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#5 of 68 Old 06-03-2011, 01:12 PM
 
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my MIL cut her great granddaughters bangs not too long ago, and the girls mom (MILs granddaughter) didnt even blink an eye. i even mentioned, "Oh, i see *her name* cut A's bangs. are you ok with that?" Her reply was, "well, they were kinda long."

 

I ended up ranting to dh that if his mom ever touched my boys hair i would be beyond pissed and he might as well warn her now not to do it. i honestly try to be as respectful as possible but I am their mom and gosh darn it I want some respect too!

 

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#6 of 68 Old 06-03-2011, 01:59 PM
 
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That would be the end of unsupervised visits for me.

My paternal grandmother cut my hair when I was a toddler. I still don't think my Mom is completely over it and I'm 37. Just mentioning it will start her on a huge rant.

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#7 of 68 Old 06-03-2011, 02:12 PM
 
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Absolutely not okay! EVER! No one except the parents (and the child itself) has the right to make that decision. My future SIL was joking about how she was going to sneak DS away to have his hair cut while I wasn't looking. I said that would be the last time they were ever allowed to touch him!

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#8 of 68 Old 06-03-2011, 02:24 PM
 
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Oh my God.  NO!  Totally unacceptable.  I hate confrontation and always do my best to be diplomatic, but I'd be outraged if my MIL did this - and she's sweet, helpful and has my son's best interests in my mind always, but NO.WAY.


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#9 of 68 Old 06-03-2011, 02:28 PM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by fireHC11 View Post

 

When I heard that she'd cut his hair without asking me, inside, I was mad.  But I said, "Thank you," because my mother-in-law's culture prevents me from expressing criticism of an elder.

 

For me, I feel this was an overstepping of the boundaries.  It's my kid's hair, and she should have at least asked first, or, even better, gently suggested that I cut his hair, if it was indeed poking him in the face (usually I brush it to the side so that it doesn't bother him).  

 

I don't mean to be rude/snarky, I really am just curious.  How is she supposed to know your boundaries if you're not allowed to tell her when she's done something outside of them?  Some people are talking about nonsupervised visits - which I get are appropriate in some instances - but how come you can't just talk to her about it?  (Yes, I did read she was from a different culture.)  But no matter what culture you're from, saying thank you seems to indicate the person was some how helpful.  How is she to know?  (Yes, it would be nice if everyone had the same boundaries ....  I totally agree.)  But since we don't, how is she supposed to understand?


 

 

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#10 of 68 Old 06-03-2011, 02:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't mean to be rude/snarky, I really am just curious.  How is she supposed to know your boundaries if you're not allowed to tell her when she's done something outside of them?  Some people are talking about nonsupervised visits - which I get are appropriate in some instances - but how come you can't just talk to her about it?  (Yes, I did read she was from a different culture.)  But no matter what culture you're from, saying thank you seems to indicate the person was some how helpful.  How is she to know?  (Yes, it would be nice if everyone had the same boundaries ....  I totally agree.)  But since we don't, how is she supposed to understand?

It is a good point, and it's complicated. At this point, my husband will have to talk to his mother, my MIL, and discuss what happened. The person closest to the relative is the one that needs to deliver the criticism. When she has an issue with something I do, she tells her son (my husband) and he tells me. It's just the way the culture works. There's no way for me to express vexation, outrage, or even concern in real time without seeming exceedingly rude.* I don't want that; I'd rather stay on amicable terms, because my MIL really does help significantly with child care while I'm at school.

* I learned this from experience -- when MIL didn't think naps were important and I grumbled loudly, she called her son (my husband) to tell him that's not OK, in vague terms. We've since worked it out, but it takes finesse and an understanding of the culture.

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#11 of 68 Old 06-03-2011, 02:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, it's going to be fixed this way: My DH quoted the OP and sent the e-mail to his dad! OMFG. duh.gif

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#12 of 68 Old 06-03-2011, 03:25 PM
 
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I said maybe.  I have always let my dd choose when she wants a cut and how she wants it so I wouldn't be concerned if my one of my dd's grandma's brought her for a cut, or cut it themselves, with my dd's consent.  She didn't have her first haircut until she was four though and I really take letting her choose seriously because her hair is part of her body.  It looks like your child may be a little young to decide about a haircut though so I can see how her violating his ability to choose would make you angry.

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#13 of 68 Old 06-03-2011, 03:44 PM
 
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So do you actually mean that about your mother-in-law or are you being sarcastic?  For me, the answer would depend a lot on that.  If my MIL, who is not an amazing woman and who does nothing to help me and only constant passive aggressive acts, did that under the guise of "helping", I'd flip out.  If any number of other people who truly are interested in helping me did that, I would disappointed that my son's hair was cut, but wouldn't be mad.  I think her intentions have everything to do with it, but I'd still ask your husband to talk to her about not doing it again. 

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 my mother-in-law, an amazing woman with infinite energy to devote to helping me,

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#14 of 68 Old 06-03-2011, 04:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So do you actually mean that about your mother-in-law or are you being sarcastic?  For me, the answer would depend a lot on that.  If my MIL, who is not an amazing woman and who does nothing to help me and only constant passive aggressive acts, did that under the guise of "helping", I'd flip out.  If any number of other people who truly are interested in helping me did that, I would disappointed that my son's hair was cut, but wouldn't be mad.  I think her intentions have everything to do with it, but I'd still ask your husband to talk to her about not doing it again. 


Ha! No, I was not being sarcastic! :-) Our parenting styles do not always align, but she does everything in her power to help out whenever needed. Sometimes this includes unwanted parenting advice, and other times it involves some very silent butting of heads as our styles or cultures clash. I think she always tries to be helpful.

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#15 of 68 Old 06-03-2011, 05:01 PM
 
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What I would expect-- if my kid was with MIL, and she thought a haircut might be nice, that she'd call me, and say, "Hey, I noticed DS's hair is getting long. I have some time this afternoon-- would you want me to go ahead and cut it for you?" Then I'd say, no, thanks, we're growing it out on purpose, so I'd like you to just leave it alone. and I'd expect her to not get huffy or defensive, but just say, oh, that's fine, and move on.

Anything less, to me, would be WAY overstepping the boundaries. I understand how how complicated it can be. I come from a family/culture where if you're mad at somebody, you walk right up to them and confront them. You say what they're doing, and how you feel about it, and you tell them to stop. It's what's expected, and nobody gets particularly upset about it. If feelings run high, then maybe there's some yelling, and then everybody negotiates a solution, and goes and has a beer together.

My DH is NOT. In his family, when you're upset with somebody, you put on a really fake smile and pretend you're thrilled, and then you go home and complain, and get so-and-so to just happen to mention to so-and-so, casually like, a week later at the hairdresser, oh did you know your DIL was pissed at you about that haircut you gave her son, and then they'd gossip about it awhile, and then call the aunts and cousins and bring them into it, and then at the next family gathering somebody makes a passive-aggressive remark about it, and MIL buttons her lips and plays Ms. Superior and I have to just sit there and stew. Then a few weeks later, DH calls her and finally confronts her about the whole issue, and she bursts into tears and tells him all about how much I hate her, and how horrible it is that he lets me turn him against her. Then we all have to pretend the whole thing never happened, or we'll have to do the whole charade over again.

It makes solving problems exceedingly difficult.

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#16 of 68 Old 06-03-2011, 05:20 PM
 
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Definitely not ok. My mom cut dd's hair, crookedly and very poorly, when she was about 6 months old and I think I even posted about it here. It was just one in a long string of unacceptable things she has done, but it stung more than most. Especially because it was my daughter and I really enjoy doing her hair and dressing her and all that. It's something special for us as mother and daughter.

 

If it had been an unusual thing for her to overstep boundaries I would not have been as angry. It would have still stung, but I don't think I'd have been as angry. But either way, whether it's part of a pattern or not, it's not appropriate. You don't modify someone's child's body in any way without their express approval.


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#17 of 68 Old 06-03-2011, 05:41 PM
 
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I voted maybe - I would be okay with a relative (like a MIL) cutting my kid's hair if:

 

They had asked first, I had made some comment myself (like oh, I just haven't had time to cut dd's hair), or my child was older (at least 5-6) and had asked them

 

 

If just a random whim of theirs to cut my kid's hair, I find that to overstep my boundaries like most others (though I'd probably say thanks and act like the OP did).  And I personally really like to cut my kids hair.  (Llyra - I find your post hilarious, yet I totally understand its truth.)

 

 

OP - wait a week or even just 2-3 days, you might find you can adjust the bangs enough after a short wait they won't look so bad to you.  

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#18 of 68 Old 06-03-2011, 05:41 PM
 
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Ugh.  My MIL did this to me too.  She cut DD's bangs that I was trying to grow out.  I didn't say anything to her because her watching DD for us was really helpful, but I was soooo mad!


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#19 of 68 Old 06-03-2011, 06:09 PM
 
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I guess it depends.  I can't stand my MIL but if my kid is like 7 and really wants her hair cut and my MIL takes her to cost cutters or something to get it done, I'd be annoyed she did it.. but only because I can't stand her.  If my mom did the same thing, I couldn't care less.  It is my kids hair and if she wants it cut a certain way, then whatever.  So, if my MIL did take my kid to get her hair cut on kid's request, I'd bite my tongue because I know the real issue isn't that she paid for something my kid wanted... it's just that I don't like her... not really fair for me to say anything in that situation.

 

However if my MIL cut my kid's hair just because SHE wants it a certain way, I'd be peeved.  It really isn't for her to decide how my kid looks.  I'd feel the same if my mom did that.  It's one thing to get kiddo's hair cut because she asked for it and a whole other to decide how I and my child keep her hair is 'wrong' and needs to be fixed.

 

with that said, I cut my bangs literally the day before picture day in kindergarten.  Of course it looks awful... but it is absolutely adorable and everyone gets a kick out of the pics and story now looking back.  When else can you sport an awful hair cut with a huge goofy grin?  being 5 was awesome for that!  and I'm the one who did it hahahaa... my mom was like 'oh well.. guess you'll look funny forever in those pics, I'm not paying for new ones!'  So... a bad hair cut on a little kid wouldn't bother me simply because they make for great pics to look back on as an adult.

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#20 of 68 Old 06-03-2011, 06:59 PM
 
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Okay, that makes sense.  At least there is a way for feedback to reach her.  (Even if it's kind of awkward and round about.)  I was just concerned you said thank you and she would take that to mean, she likes I cut his hair, I'll do it next time too.

 

Sorry that I haven't been helpful to your original question.  I would be really mad.  Mostly because of the whole 'had a plan for vacation" aspect.  Otherwise, hair is hair and it will grow back.  But when there is a plan, especially picture related plan, laid backness goes right out the window.

 

 

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#21 of 68 Old 06-03-2011, 07:00 PM
 
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Completely not ok, but bizarrely common. I've seen numerous threads about grandparents cutting kids' hair without permission.

 

I don't get it at all. Is a child having a haircut really such an emergency that you feel like you have to do it RIGHT NOW, without asking the parents?

 

OP, I'm sorry she did that. I'd be really annoyed too. hug2.gif


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Completely not ok, but bizarrely common. I've seen numerous threads about grandparents cutting kids' hair without permission.

 

I don't get it at all. Is a child having a haircut really such an emergency that you feel like you have to do it RIGHT NOW, without asking the parents?

 

OP, I'm sorry she did that. I'd be really annoyed too. hug2.gif


This, exactly. The OP's scenario is a little unusual, but having specific plans for growing out hair, haircuts and/or pictures isn't unusual at all!

 


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#23 of 68 Old 06-03-2011, 08:42 PM
 
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I think there's a strong passive-aggressive element to this. They disagree with how the parent is grooming the child, dressing the child, or whatever. But to actually approach the parent, and state their position-- "DS looks ridiculous with his hair like that. I think you should let me cut it."-- would open themselves up to being openly disagreed with. I know my MIL would DIE before she'd engage in that kind of open, honest disagreement. It's a lot easier for her to go ahead and do it, and then back me into a position where I can't get upset at her without looking like it's ME that's being unreasonable. I go through this with my MIL about clothes, all the time. DD1 comes home with all kinds of stuff MIL knows I would never buy, and says things like, "Oh, I know you'd never allow it, but she just WANTED it so much that I HAD to buy it." Then I find out she never even took DD to a store-- she'd already bought the stuff, and had it at home, and pushed it on DD, and now she tries and makes it seem like it was DD's idea.

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I feel for the OP.

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#24 of 68 Old 06-03-2011, 11:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think there's a strong passive-aggressive element to this. They disagree with how the parent is grooming the child, dressing the child, or whatever. But to actually approach the parent, and state their position-- "DS looks ridiculous with his hair like that. I think you should let me cut it."-- would open themselves up to being openly disagreed with. I know my MIL would DIE before she'd engage in that kind of open, honest disagreement. It's a lot easier for her to go ahead and do it, and then back me into a position where I can't get upset at her without looking like it's ME that's being unreasonable. I go through this with my MIL about clothes, all the time. DD1 comes home with all kinds of stuff MIL knows I would never buy, and says things like, "Oh, I know you'd never allow it, but she just WANTED it so much that I HAD to buy it." Then I find out she never even took DD to a store-- she'd already bought the stuff, and had it at home, and pushed it on DD, and now she tries and makes it seem like it was DD's idea.

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I feel for the OP.

You're totally right, and I hadn't thought of it that way. When it comes to dressing my kid, I'm very glad that she -- or any of my relatives -- doesn't say, "He liked this," but instead she says, "I thought he'd like this."

In fact, we have specific outfits that we wear to grandma's house when we go visiting. Usually it's clothes that she got for him, because I know it would make her happy to see him wear the things she picked out. This goes for both grandmas and would go for friends too. Maybe this will change as my son is older and can pick out his own clothing... I dunno.

But clothes are much easier to change than hair is to grow out!

Thanks for everyone that's been supportive. Now I'm a bit worried about FIL's response to my OP, which he received by e-mail earlier this evening. I hate confrontation but having a conversation with him directly would have been much, much better than having my OP e-mailed to him by DH.

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#25 of 68 Old 06-03-2011, 11:37 PM
 
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Well I don't know her, so it is not easy to judge her intentions here, but I think she was trying to be helpful. Personally I would have been mortified if it was my LO because I am really attached to his hair and refuse to let anyone cut it... bag.gif Let it rest a few days or a week before you react to gauge your true anger or lack therof.

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#26 of 68 Old 06-04-2011, 01:30 AM
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I put maybe because I could possibly be OK with it if it were done well. It's the doing it badly that would put me over the edge.

 

I hope your FIL responds well and you are able to do something with your toddler's hair in time for your vacation.


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#27 of 68 Old 06-04-2011, 01:57 AM
 
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In no way ok. My FIL cut DS1's hair once. All heck broke loose. In-laws were banned from access for weeks. It was bad. My kid's body? No one's choice. 

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#28 of 68 Old 06-04-2011, 02:44 AM
 
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I think it depends on the relationship. If my mom felt my child could not see, and cut off just enough (very little), I would probably thank her. If mil did the same thing, I would be annoyed. My mom is very helpful and not manipulative, so that is why I would feel she truly was trying to do what she felt was best for the child. Mil lives far away and... well... is not my mom. It is just not the same relationship, so I would expect her to mention to me that the child had trouble seeing or something.


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#29 of 68 Old 06-04-2011, 04:38 AM
 
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I voted maybe.

I would be irritated at a relative/babysitter deciding to cut a baby or toddler's hair just because it bothered the adult or if they bullied a child into getting his or her hair cut.

I think if an older child has freely given their consent then it is perfectly fine for the parent not to be consulted. I would think it downright odd to be asked if it was okay to cut my 11 year old dd's hair since that is her decision.


Kim ~mom to one awesome dd (12)

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#30 of 68 Old 06-04-2011, 07:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Llyra View Post

I think there's a strong passive-aggressive element to this. They disagree with how the parent is grooming the child, dressing the child, or whatever. But to actually approach the parent, and state their position-- "DS looks ridiculous with his hair like that. I think you should let me cut it."-- would open themselves up to being openly disagreed with.


I think so, too. Actually, my DH's grandfather just pulled this stunt a couple of months ago with my 2.5yo nephew. His hair had never been cut, AFAIK. His parents picked him up and Grandpa had cut his bangs all crooked. They were mad, but not mad enough to raise hell. They also told their son to say, "No, Poppa, you don't cut my hair!" I don't know whether that will work or not in the future. Grandpa is 80yo, significantly deaf and a little kooky, and I'd be personally reluctant to leave a toddler in his care, in general....but that's just me.

 

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