Tuesday, March 4th, 2014
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?
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