Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood. Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be emailed at email@example.com or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
It truly is remarkable how many atrocious acts children are able to get away with, under the guise of “they’re only kids.” And frankly, I don’t think it’s fair that age should determine social etiquette. I mean, do these cretins think they’re above the law? Anyway, here is a series of infractions where I think kids (and even babies) need to mind their manners and shape up!
Blatantly throwing food on the floor
Seriously? There’s a ball right there in your hand. Throw that instead! And it’s not like macaroni and cheese even makes a satisfying noise when it hits a tile floor. I see no logic behind this senseless, selfish act. Adults could never do this as there’d be no one to clean it up.
Touching someone else for no reason
This is something that kids do without consequence until they’re about 17. Babies, toddlers, and adolescents alike have been touching people’s butts and faces for centuries without a care in the world. Adults would definitely not be able to get away with this sober.
Saying dinner is “gross”
My son often tells my wife that the dinner she prepared is “gross” or “yucky.” However, when I say the same exact thing? Suddenly it’s this major issue. Adults clearly cannot get away with blatantly insulting a chef/spouse to his or her face.
Throwing a tantrum in the mall
It seems like kids save their absolute worst, most uncontainable fits for when you’re trekking through a department store with 12 bags, a stroller, four jackets, and zero patience. But imagine an adult acting in such a manner. You bring a sale item to the register, only to discover that item is now full price. So you start convulsing on the floor and knocking down clothes racks. You would probably be banned from the mall. But if your kid did the same thing, everyone would have a hearty chuckle and go on with their day. Fair?
You’re a child, not George “The Animal” Steele. I mean, really.
Staring at boobs
If there ever were an activity that yielded either giggles or unrivaled anger, depending on the age of the perpetrator, it’s this. The rule seems to go: If you’re three, more breasts for thee. If you’re 38, here comes the hate.
Opening someone else’s gifts
We’ve all seen this. Little Emma is perfectly capable of tearing wrapping paper on her own, but Dylan is blind to that fact, callously pushing her out of the way to open a present that’s not even his! Try doing this beyond the age of 10 and suddenly, no one wants you involved in their Secret Santa.
Refusing to get dressed
Has your kid ever insisted on staying in their pajamas when you need to be out the door to get him to school so you can be on time for an important meeting? If you said “no,” then your kid is probably in utero. Every child over the age of 18 months suddenly gets very specific about when and by whom they’d like to be dressed. Such Prima donnas. Then they demand exactly 2 ½ strawberries and ¾ glass of milk with their cereal. It’s like dealing with a self-important Hollywood starlet in diapers.
Climbing on countertops/tables
Kids are like mini, drunk adults when they’re misbehaving. No clearer example of this is their constant decision to do their impression of any and every four-legged animal on the dining room table. I tried being “cute” once and joined in. My head smashed into the hanging light fixture, my knees ached, and the looks on the faces of the other people at Outback Steakhouse were definitely not encouraging.
Crying when barely injured
My 4-year-old stubbed his toe on his dresser the other day and wailed like he’d been set on fire. Incidentally, that very same dresser nearly brought me to tears a few years earlier (when I had to pay for it). But sometimes I think he’s exaggerating. There are times when he cries because his socks are too tight. He’ll make a terrific professional wrestler. Or a LeBron James.
You hear the term “double standard” thrown around quite often. But rarely is anything ever done to change it. All I’m asking is that we hold these children accountable for their butt-touching, food-throwing, gift-ruining ways. Then, and only then, will there be justice, and clean floors.
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* Slingshot photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com
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There are some things you tell your kids and some things you ask. Telling makes it affirmative. Asking makes it optional. Coddling comes from the latter–and parents who coddle their kids incessantly are entirely insufferable. Their children will suffer for their actions. We all already do because it pisses off the parents who are doing the right thing. In the last week two instances illustrate this perfectly. Strangely enough, it was both dads. But I find the majority of my encounters of this kind are with moms, simply because there are usually more moms on the playground. Regardless here goes:
Emmett went down the slide and his little car slipped out of his hands. A boy around 2 or 3 takes it. Em runs over, points and says, “Emmett’s car.” He doesn’t grab, he doesn’t push. He waits. I am next to him.
The boy’s father comes up.
“Sean, that’s not your car. Can you give it back?”
Silence. More silence.
Dad leans over.
“Hey Buddy, can you give it back?”
More More Silence.
My mind: Okay, if you’re counting that’s twice you’ve asked in the 30 seconds my kid is waiting. And are you an idiot? No kid wants to give up a toy–even if it’s not theirs– so why keep asking?
“Sean, you really need to give that back buddy.”
Nothing. More Nothing.
My mind: Okay are you stupid? The proper thing to say is, “Hey Buddy, give it back.” You don’t ask if he can. Of course he can. But chances aren’t he won’t. Clearly your kid is not responding to your passive parenting. Duh.
At this point, we are approaching 45 seconds, maybe a minute. I’m done. I kneel down and physically take the car from precious little Sean’s hands, while saying, “We are going to give that back now.” I hand it to Emmett and we resume playing. I’m furious though.
Do you see how ridiculous this scenario is? We have become a culture of coddlers. So many parents take the path of least resistance when it comes to child rearing. Your kids are acting up? Hand them your phone. Your kid doesn’t want to share their pile of French fries (on a playdate)? Have the other parent order a new batch, even though that kid will never finish his. It’s ludicrous.
Two days later, at a different playground, Fia and Emmett climbed up to a double slide. The kind where you can sit side-by-side. One slide was empty; the other had a little girl around 18 months on it. Fia sat down on the empty one next to her.
“Come on Emmett, slide next to me,” she said.
“He will Fia, we just have to let this little girl go down first,” I explained.
I look at the father who looks at his daughter.
“What do you think sweetie? Do you want to go down?” he asks.
Silence. More silence.
Emmett is on the top, once again, waiting patiently.
“Hmmm honey? What do you think?” he asks. Again.
My mind: Are you f–king kidding me?
Silence again. More silence. And more.
Fia: “Mom, when can Emmett come with me?”
Me: “When this little girl goes down. What do you think?” I say, turning to the little girl.
Blank stare from girl while I fantasize about shoving her father off of the nearby jungle gyms.
I turn to the father: “Is she going to go down the slide?”
Father: “I’m not sure. I think she just wants to sit here.”
Me=dumbfounded. Speechless. Um, okay, so you are going to let her monopolize the slide? Are you an ape? What are you trying to teach your kid? And what about my kid who actually wants to use the slide your daughter is meditating on.
I can’t believe I didn’t say something directly to him. I should have. Instead I told Fia to go on down her slide and that we will find another place where she and Emmett can do something together. I said it loudly but that’s not good enough. I should have told him his behavior and “parenting” was inexcusable.
What are these as-hole parents afraid of? That their kids will “freak?” (Which by the way, is a dumb word to use on your kid. ie: Oh, so and so will “freak” if I don’t do xyz. I catch myself using it sometimes and have to remember how much I hate that word in relation to children. I can’t stand the labeling of our kids. Even worse is when you say “xyz will freak” in front of xyz. If you say your kid is going to freak then guess what? They are going to freak. You are teaching that to them.). Are parents afraid they will actually have to do some work as a parent and “make” their kid do the right thing? That their kid might cry (or “freak”) and you may have to be tough? To be a parent? I don’t get it.
Parenting is not easy. So if you sign up, then do the f–king work it entails to not produce overly whiny, cowardly, and/or bratty kids who aren’t taught the basic etiquette of society. The playground is a metaphor for a helluva lot more. So if you can’t teach them on the playground, how will you teach them in real life?
For all their faults, I have a hard time thinking my parents would have stood for any of this bulls–t. For the handful of things I disagreed with in Stephanie Mertz’s viral rant, she had some excellent points. The helicopter needs to crash and we need to press the restart button on proper parenting.
Bottom line: It’s not Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s: You Tell, Don’t Ask. Got it?
Do you coddle your kids? Take our quiz and find out what your parenting style is.
Cartoon pic via shutterstock
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bully, helicopter parent, ipad, kids sharing, parents who coddle, playground etiquette, RIE, sharing, Stephanie Mertz | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Moving to Los Angeles, Must Read
It’s early congrats, but I’m thinking it’s a foregone conclusion that Disney’s latest movie will take home the Oscar for Frozen. One of my best friends, Jenn Lee, wrote the movie, then came on to co-direct it. She is a pioneer at Disney–she is the first female director there. Ever. For a company that has been around since the 1930s, that’s a pretty f–king amazing feat (and pretty f–king amazing it hasn’t happened until now. Though of course if it had to wait until 2013-14, I’m psyched that it’s my friend who broke the glass ceiling). Now Jenn is behind a movie that is quickly approaching the one-billion dollar mark. That’s 9 zeros if you can count that high.
Phil brought Jenn on to help him write “Wreck-it Ralph” after doing the initial drafts himself. They met the first day of film school. I’ve written about their journey before with Ralph. But tonight the spotlight is all on her.
She wrote a piece in today’s LA Times about the hardest part of being a female director. It’s not the writing room or the story room or the endless flights around the world (that while exotic can be exhausting, especially as a single mom raising a 10-year-old girl). What’s hardest she says? The red carpet. As in all the things women have to do in order to make themselves look the part. An excerpt:
I certainly didn’t know that a fitting for a proper boostie-yay would involve standing topless in front of three Ukrainian women, while they placed bets as to whether I was a D or a Double-D.
I didn’t know that I had so much to learn (and to purchase, because unlike men, women apparently cannot be photographed in the same thing twice). Since November, I have rarely lived a day that hasn’t involved hair and makeup or shopping or styling, and I now know more about myself than I ever wanted to. I know that my boobs don’t fit, ever. My eyebrows are wild and should be committed. I have a cowlick … and that is bad.
She texted me last night that in her final fitting yesterday they had to build a special harness for her boobs. It’s not easy being a woman on the red carpet.
I shouldn’t cover my shoulders too much because that looks matronly, but I shouldn’t wear strapless gowns either, seeing as I “just don’t have the armpits for it.” I am shockingly short-waisted and yes, one stylist actually used the word “shockingly.”
But amidst it all, it has been a wildly fun ride for her–and for her friends who get to cheer her from the sidelines.
So tonight, when she’s bound to get up on stage and accept the Oscar with her two male counterparts, don’t look at her boobs. Just look at the gigantic smile from a woman who has made history. So proud of you girl!
(Click here for the entire article by Jenn)
Picture of Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, winners of Best Animated Feature Film for “Frozen,” at the Golden Globe Awards show on Jan. 12, 2014, in Beverly Hills. Courtesy Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / January 12, 2014
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My friend Elizabeth sent this to me. It made my day. In case you can’t read it, the small print has the little girl saying, “Skip to the part where the princess climbs to the top of the corporate ladder.”
I could have saved my breath in lamenting about the princess culture if I had just seen this. A picture (and short quotation) is worth more than a thousand words. Pass it along!
Cartoon is courtesy of the Feb 17, 2014 New Yorker Magazine.
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I find that right around 5 pm, when dinner is looming and the kids are typically at their worst, my mentality starts to shrivel. It’s why I founded The Failure Hour 2 years ago, but have been a terrible president as of late. My backyard has remained devoid of girlfriends, toddlers and wine.
Sure, I’ll get one together soon, but my emotions that go along with this time of day have confounded me. It’s not like getting dinner together and sitting down with the family are a bad thing. Sure, the bedtime routine can be tedious, but it can also be fun.
I realized my restlessness and blah-ness are because while many parents switch gears in terms of leaving work and coming home, my gears don’t really switch. I’m not in a boardroom or an office. And no matter what I’m doing–even if my kids are in school–I’m always wearing my mom hat.
From the caption here, I’m not saying I yearn for either side–the working mom or stay-at-home one (though I’m sure the cartoon will provoke outcry). It’s just that I never have the opportunity to “forget” I’m a mom. Well, except if I’m in Bikram. And dear god, the instructor gets more insufferable each time. The other day she said we could grow an inch by doing a certain pose. Seriously?
I’m not even remotely attempting to have a poor-me, I’m home all day with my kids moment. First, because it’s not true. I’m not home with my kids all day. Fia is in school 5 days a week, Em is in preschool 2 days now and on those days I have a free life to do what I want. Sort of. If you count trips to the grocery store, errands around my area, taking kids to and from school, if I’m lucky a workout (though that’s proved disastrous), meal planning (also semi-disastrous), and, if I’m lucky, a blog post. Thus, the mom hat. I’m not complaining. It’s part of what I signed up for when I slowed down in the career arena and sped up in the mom space.
So I have come up with an experiment to try.
There is a big comfy chair in our living room that we rarely sit on. Around 5 pm, I’m going to sit in it with a cup of tea, a glass of wine–anything that physically tells my brain I am crossing over (not in the John Edward way, of course). I’m going to attempt to sit and do some Sudoku. I know this probably sounds lame, but I need my brain to have some sort of “jolt” to shift gears. It’s a far cry from leaving a boardroom and coming home, but I’m hoping it will train my brain to look forward to 5 pm rather than dread it.
During this time I will unapologetically park my children in front of their favorite show for 30 minutes, which I usually do anyway. I call it our time to regroup. Fia will sometimes say, “Mama, can we regroup today with Daniel Tiger?” I see nothing wrong with this, especially since any show they watch is educational.
I’m hoping this shift, while not drastic, will be enough to take away the antsy, blah feeling. I will let you know. If anyone can relate and has other ideas, I would love to hear them.
Cartoon of mom via Shutterstock
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antsy, evening blahs, failure hour, me time, mom blahs, mom hat, preschool, restless, sahm, stay at home mom, Sudoku, tea, wine, working mom | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips