September 17, 2009 8:40 am
“YOU NEED TO PUT HIM IN TIME OUT!”
The words were clearly being screamed from my mouth but I was having a hard time believing it. I had never confronted another adult like this before. I’m usually able to bite my tongue long enough to go home and vent to Jamie about whatever circumstance pissed me off that day.
Not this time.
Last Thursday, I had my first confrontation in what I’m sure is to be a long line of confrontations with other parents. I knew this day would come but when it got here, I was speaking from pure, nervous adrenaline. It had to be done.
The kids and I were at Gymboree for our Thursday afternoon play session. Usually, the same group of people show up on Thursdays and we’re all pretty tight. We spot each other’s kids to see them safely over the death trap equipment and all generally enjoy each other’s company. We enforce the rules of sharing and police the kids when they snatch toys from each other, ensuring that every kid gets their fair turn. The kids range in age from one to five and usually mix well together in spite of the age gap. Thursdays at Gymbo are my favorite since I get to hang with other adults and the kids get to burn some energy in a safe environment. Well, usually.
Enter Nate. A 3 1/2 year old man-child with a propensity for bullying. Every time Nate shows up, the entire mood changes and a sense of dread fills the place. Parents beef up the security because we all know our child is potentially Nate’s next victim. Nate’s mom is a cheery, clueless woman with the inability to actually discipline her child when he’s reeking havoc on the play floor. She stands by as Nate pushes, steals and screams at other children and offers up a wimpy objection of “No no, Nate, that’s not nice!”. And nothing else.
Last Thursday, I tried to give Nate’s mom the benefit of the doubt. I guarded my kids and every time Nate tried to grab a toy from their hands, I would intervene by telling him to let go and be patient, that he could have a turn in a minute. This is the same thing I do with my kids and they know if they’re patient, they’ll get a turn eventually. Nate seemed to respond well when I disciplined him, even though it wasn’t actually my job. The problem is that my kids go in two opposite directions so every time I was tending to the other kid, Nate swooped in for the attack on the unprotected victim. I watched helplessly from across the room as he pushed Graham to the ground and wrestled toys out of his hands. He screamed and pushed Elliot whenever she got too close. With each outburst, his mom told him that it wasn’t nice but she never bothered to get off of her ass and actually discipline the kid.
The parents were all exchanging knowing looks with each other. My anger was bubbling and I was near my breaking point. I passive-aggressively said things within earshot of his mother, like “how do you sit there and watch your kid act like that and do nothing?”. Everyone in the room was in agreement with me but nobody wanted to confront her. Then it happened. Nate had already pushed Elliot to the ground twice and went in for more. I was about ten feet from Elliot when I saw him turn and push her with all of his might. She flew through the air backwards, every part of her off of the ground like Superman in reverse. She hit the ground with a hard thud and began hysterically screaming.
I scooped Elliot up and made sure she was ok, even though I wasn’t. That’s when I screamed at Nate’s mom. I was sick of watching her sit by and do nothing as her asshole kid terrorized the rest of the kids in the place. “YOU NEED TO PUT HIM IN TIME OUT! DO SOMETHING TO DISCIPLINE HIM!”. The place got dead quiet, like a Western saloon at shootout time. I was sure I saw a tumbleweed roll by. Nate’s mom told me that she doesn’t “do” time outs and I retorted that that was her problem. I went on to tell her that Nate just threw a ONE YEAR OLD to the ground for the third time and he was old enough to know better. That she needed to do something. She calmly went on and on about how she doesn’t do time outs. She made several excuses for not doing anything until I was so fucking pissed, I wanted to hit her.
I had scooped up a kid under each arm and I was standing there holding them like two sacks of potatoes while we had our discussion and I finally had to get out of there before I punched the stupid bitch in the face and made matters worse. I left and one of my friends followed me out to discuss the situation. He was just as mad as I was since his son had been Nate’s victim too and was in disbelief at what had just transpired. He predicted that Nate is going to land his ass in jail before his 21st and we both had a good laugh over it. Except it wasn’t funny since it was probably true.
This week’s Spin Cycle Topic is “hate”, and boy do I sure have a lot to write on that subject. I hate that Jamie and I are doing everything in our power to raise polite, respectful kids and because of that, our kids are going to be the victims of bullying for their entire lives. I hate that people go the way of “everything will work out” and refuse to lift a finger to shape their kids to turn into decent human beings. I hate that it’s probably illegal for me to punch these stupid motherfucking parents in the face or for me to discipline their kids for them. Kids push, shove and steal toys. That’s a symptom of their age and lack of impulse control, I get that. But for a parent to sit by while their kid acts like that and then make excuses for their behavior is infuriating. I’ve worked in a high school and seen the consequences of bad parenting. I hate that my kids are going to have to grow up alongside kids who might someday literally get away with murder.
From here on out, I vow to take a stand in those instances where I’m able to. From here on out, I declare war on those asshole parents whose children lack discipline and terrorize the polite kids on the playground, the ones whose parents actually enforce the rules and keep their kids in line. Do you want a piece of this? I didn’t think so. By the way, can anybody loan me some bail money?
Tags: Spin Cycle