I worry a bit that I'm going to become one of those over protective fathers.
Not in an 'oh no shnookums you mustn't go outside without your sun bonnet and appropriate footwear', but more in a 'you hurt my child's feelings, now I must hunt you down and take necessary action' kind of way. I guess, less the way that gets you laughed at a bit, and more the way that gets you, um, sort of imprisoned.
There are a couple of kids that live next door, and they are probably nice enough kids. But they are a couple of years older than Little e, and so she pretty much thinks they are awesome and will do whatever they tell her to do. She wanders over to the fence and calls their names longingly. Play with me. Please. Please! Oh you are going out to the shops for several hours with your mother? Oh nevermind, I'll just wait her for you by the fence until you come back. Oh, it's raining heavily now? Nevermind, I'll just be here nonetheless, don't you worry about that.
And so the kids take advantage a bit. Get her to do silly things. Leave her waiting around. I can't stand this. I want to whisk my daughter away, and yell out 'you're not worthy to play with my little girl, you little toe-rags!' I get worked up. No longer do I see a couple of little kids, but rather my Mortal Enemies who have stepped over that line and Hurt. My. Little. Girl.
Now, I know this is cringey, but seriously, it's a hard thing to shake, and a difficult thing to balance. There's nothing worse than when you are with friends who also have children, and the parents treat your kids more harshly than their own. I certainly don't want to be like that. And there's also something really nice about the opposite, where parents don't show favouritism, but embrace other kids the same as their own, and treat them equally.
But still. It's hard to stand back and let the kids deal with it themselves. It's hard not to rush in prematurely and intervene when it might not be necessary. It's hard not to give those neighbour kids a death stare sometimes.
It'd be nice if more was said on the topic. There are a million books about how to treat your own kids, but not so many about how to treat other peoples' kids.