Long title, eh? Almost as long as my day.
Today was another one of marathon activities: swim class, bubble baths, errands, art classes, and a puppet show at the library. All these activities, of course, meant being around a lot of little, screaming children. Now, I’m all for kids having a good time, and I know that at some of these things you should expect there to be at least a few obnoxious kids around – but sometimes parents are … how do I say this … too hands off. It’s as if the parents think they bring their kids to something in a public place and they no longer have to monitor their behavior.
Well, I’ve got news for you ladies (and sometimes men): your kids are brats. Not all of them – some are polite, saying “excuse me” and “please and thank you” when they should. But today none of those nice kids were out.
My day began at the public swimming pool, where I desperately tried to squeeze in thirty minutes of writing while I waited for swimming class to end. About ten minutes in a woman and her four kids showed up and the children began jumping and screaming on the very bench I was sitting on. It didn’t stop there, though: one of the kids actually started screaming and spitting in my face. When I asked the woman to get her unruly children under control, she told me that (being that it was a public pool and all), I could move if I didn’t like it – they had a right to harass me like that.
No ma’am. No they don’t.
The fun continued later on when I made the mistake of packing the family in the car and heading to the public library where a summer program puppet show was being held. Screaming children were everywhere, walking in front of each other and blocking the views of the more well-behaved kids. The worst, though, was that there was a long line and tickets to get in. We waited, and waited, and waited, and suddenly three mothers with four kids (each) walked in front of us and got in line with a friend, with her own cadre of brats, that was right in front of us saving a place. Again, if it were no more than a couple of people she was saving a place for, that would have been one thing. But fifteen additional bodies packing into the spot in line right before us? They acted as if they were entitled to take the place in front of us in line. At the high point of the event, one of the kids stepped on my foot and then looked up and stuck out his tongue – his mother then too busy gabbing with her friends to pay much attention.
I really hate it when I see other people disciplining children that are not theirs. It really just isn’t their place. But when I am in a public place and a kid’s parents are not acting like … well, parents … I can now see why the gloves come off. Just as the woman’s kids at the public swimming pool had the right to play however they wanted at the pool, by virtue of the fact that the pool was public, I and my family have just as much of a right to not be impacted by such blatantly self-centered and outright rude behavior.
So here’s the deal, parents that are wrapped so tightly around their kid’s fingers that they really think bad behavior (by objective standards) is okay, here’s what I will do to your kid if he screams or spits in my face again: I’ll scream and spit back, and believe you me I have twenty years of yelling on your child.
And for those of you that really believe it is okay for your kid to run wild whilst you stand by and chit-chat with your friends, pretending that nothing is going on, occasionally muttering “kids will be kids,” your child will not be exempt just because you are too ignorant and self-absorbed to pay attention. If your kid steps on my foot intentionally, smashes into me, hits me, or does anything else to cause me (or my family) bodily harm, I will break out the spanking-hand and show you how to be a parent.
Those of you that know me know that I would never actually hit anyone, and I actually (while I may be pretty loud and swear a lot) don’t believe in screaming or spanking. But the truth to the matter is that my parents and my parent’s parents would have never tolerated the type of behavior that is tolerated now. What has happened to basic discipline, respect, common courtesy, and instilling in children an idea of who has the authority and who is to abide by the rules? Sure, screaming and spanking probably got a little out of control, which is why such a backlash came up against it towards the late 90s. But the pacified, hands-off approach to parenting that replaced it is making a situation far worse than a kid with a temporary sore bottom ever was. It’s time for parents to start acting like … well, parents.
And to the line-cutters, the ignorers, and the people who think they are entitled to encroach on other people’s space: stop teaching your kid to be as obnoxious as you. Because if you don’t, one day someone won’t just blog about wanting to spank and scream at your kid, they’ll actually do it.