I like kids. For the most part, I really do. Some parents, on the other hand, I could live without.
Can someone please tell me when it became okay to take up as much space as you desire, and in a seemingly oblivious fashion? To park strollers in the middle of aisles and pretend to not see the traffic jam you cause? To pretend you can’t hear your child throwing a tantrum in a restaurant, because you haven’t finished your meal?
I’m not talking about kids with medical issues. I’m talking about parents with manner issues. While absentmindedly waiting in line at a drug store recently, I finally looked up to see what was taking so long. A woman had two youngsters, about 4 and 7 years old. She had the younger one sitting on the counter, which she was leaning on. She was talking to the clerk with her derriere taking up an additional space in line. It was her posture, not her size. Her older daughter was wheeling an empty stroller back and forth in front of the second cash.
Three elderly folks, one with a walker, were lost in the froth behind her. Clerks were trying to hand prescriptions over the head of this nonsense, which went on and on. Customer service workers are paid to be nice; I am not. Between the kid she had parked on the counter (really?), the stroller, the second untethered kid and her rump, she was taking up all the available space in front of the twin counter. Not a word, not a signal, not a backward glance to see whom she might be holding up.
When did this disregard for others become okay? My mother used to wrangle several of us all the time, and getting in other people’s way or being rude or noisy was simply not an option. My own two have been unceremoniously marched out of a restaurant with newly delivered food sitting on the table. At the time it seemed expensive; looking back, it was a really cheap way to learn a very important lesson: if I tell you we’re leaving if you misbehave, we’re leaving. Does it work every time? Nope. But trust me: you get points – and a bucket load of empathy – from the rest of us for trying.
Taking your family out for a meal or a movie (or even to the zoo, for that matter) doesn’t give you the right to destroy that experience for others attempting to do the same thing. I have watched one parent discipline a child, only to be overruled by the other parent. Stop it. The best word you will ever use as a parent is “no”. Give in once, and you are doomed to buying overpriced Reese’s Peanut Butter cups at the checkout for the rest of your life.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m the sucker who holds your baby on an airplane when you’re overwhelmed or have to go the bathroom. I’m the idiot who will play endless peek-a-boo with your 2-year-old while you unload your grocery cart. Raising kids is tough, and socializing them is necessary and good. I just wonder what message those same kids are getting when you and your friends take over a coffee shop as if you’re recreating SUV stroller Stonehenge at Starbucks.
I don’t blame the children, but I dread the day they are old enough to mimic the sense of entitlement being modeled for them by their parents. With a little time and lot of consistency, kids take to boundaries like ducks to water. Too bad some of their parents missed the memo.