Spin Cycle: You Want A Piece Of This?

September 17, 2009 8:40 am

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?



  1. Julie@Momspective

    You must’ve had every single person in the store giving you a round of applause. I’m all about people telling other people how it is, even if it’s me. Of course, I’m not a dick, I know how to parent (basically). I say go get ’em!

  2. Stacy (the Random Cool Chick)

    Amen, Sister! Count me in!! My jaw hit the floor the first time you wrote about Elliot getting pushed to the ground – then my heart hurt for her the second time. THERE IS NO EXCUSE when the damn mother is sitting RIGHT THERE. That kid obviously needs discipline, and it sounds like his wimpy mother won’t do it. He’ll be in juvie for sure at this rate. I SO wanted to hit that mother through my computer screen, too. ((HUGZ!))

  3. kyooty

    You did good work! I think it’s also important that the company you are paying to allow yourr kids to play in a safe place will take a stand too. There has to be a system in place to not allow those kids to play there. If you don’t follow the rules of the road you lose your licence! why isn’t it true of Gymboree?

  4. Cat

    You got me all fired up, Casey! I am loving this mama bear side of you.

    I think I need a spanking.

  5. cyndi

    Oh, I am SO there with you! We have a terror like this in our neighborhood, and it’s actually one of the reasons I want to move before he’s on the bus with my kids…grr. He’s literally swung from my chandelier at a party, tho I must say he’s just spoiled and usually not as mean as the one you described…yet. We do take bets on what for/when he’ll end up in the slammer. We’ve left our fair share of events because of behavior, but it’s usually ours because I don’t tolerate the disturbance :blush:
    Sorry you had to deal with this, and I wish you’d been able to stay and enjoy your time there! Big hugs!

  6. jenni

    dude. doesn’t she realize her kid would be happier with some dicipline in his life? what an asshat.

  7. Sprite's Keeper

    I got to hear this live! With hand gestures and everything! You know I’m in your posse should you need an angry mob. So, um, it’s Thursday. You going? 🙂
    You’re linked!

  8. Michele

    You did the right thing. I would suggest that you complain to the management and that every other parent do the same. She should not be allowed to bring this bully in then sit there and do nothing. It is sad really because 10 years from now she’s going to wonder why her kid is in juvie.

  9. robin

    Wow. Just wow. I guess that explains why the kid would be so awful when the parent is such an asshat. How can you not be horrified by that kind of behavior from your own kid? I don’t get that.
    Sorry this happened to you.

  10. Pseudo

    Bravo Casey! I am cheering for you over here on behalf of all Nate’s future teachers.

    If there is a next time, I think you should tell the mom she is practically signing her kid up for a stint in jail.

  11. Jamie

    Amen sister! It is EVERY parents job to raise well mannered, responsible kids and you are right to be pissed when somebody is shirking their duty and it directly affects you and yours.

    Just give me her info and I will see if there is any Portuguese mafia in Florida that can “take care” of the situation.

  12. Michele Renee

    Wow, that is amazing. You really described it with your daughter flying backwards and everything. Who was in charge at the store? Surely they have rules–what if she hurt her back or neck, geez.
    Maybe the mom will homeschool, otherwise the teacher and administration will have to deal with this child in 1.5 years.

  13. mrsbear

    Dude, that story never gets old. You spoke for non-confrontational, passive/aggressive, disciplining parents everywhere. I can’t wait to hear the update after Gymbo. :O

  14. A Tired wife

    I remember feeling a bit timid the first time a similar situation presented itself to me when my son was a little one. Mom said “If a child’s mom won’t stand up and fight the world for their child, who will?” and I’ve never been timid since.

    Good for you Casey!

  15. K

    This is a tough one. I always struggle with the when to interfere/what to say to another parent thing.

    Parenting is hard work. Hope things go smoother next time.

  16. Keely

    She doesn’t “do” time-outs? What DOES she “do”? Because if she isn’t disciplining him at all at home either, the kid is going to suffer. We’re parents – it’s our job to teach them the rules of life. Sounds like YOU are doing a fantastic job 🙂

  17. CoffeeJitters (Judy Haley)

    good for you! and dont they have rules at these gymboree places? don’t they have ways of dealing with bullies even if their parents don’t? seems like there should be some kind of three strikes and you’re out type of plan

  18. Captain Dumbass

    Yay, Casey! I’ll bail you out.

  19. becky

    Oh my hell! I was so mad reading that! And that wet noodle is in for a heck of a time raising that terror. I swear, a LOT of parenting is done by the time your child is three and a half. Like, if he knows he has no boundaries and won’t be disciplined, the next several decades of his life are going to be different as a result.

    You absolutely did the right thing! The staff at Gymboree needs to speak to her or bounce her out on her ass.

  20. Jessica

    I’m on your side totally. I’m alwayst he one who says something. I agreee, talk to the management with all the other parents and have this woman and her son banned or at least wared and then if he does it again and he will have her banned.

  21. ymK

    This kind of behavior pisses me off too, because my kid is also the victim almost all the time. She has two boy cousins a little older than her, and they bully her around ALL the time. It infuriates me to the point of explosion but I can’t do anything.
    I am so glad you said something. It hurt my heart to read about your little Elliot being pushed like that, and I don’t even know you really.

  22. Lisa @ boondock ramblings

    About a month ago, Jonathan and I were at the playground when a little boy shoved Jonathan with all his might. He flew in the air like Elliott did. The little boy’s parents didn’t see anything, so I couldn’t be mad at him, but I did think about how I try to teach him to be polite and for that he was on the ground. My kid’s crime? He tried to hug the other kid. Wow. What a travesty huh?

    So yeah, I hate that we’re doing our best to teach our child to be as polite and respectful as possible and others don’t do the same.

    Where is the discipline any more? It wasn’t like you were suggesting she paddle the child….you were suggesting she put him in time out. It’s the best alternative, I believe. Argh. Now I’m pissed for you. I’m getting a flight to Florida. I feel like laying some smack down on that woman!

  23. Cara

    What. The. Fuck. I cannot stand parents like that. I am one of those that when my kid is behaving badly, I am there in seconds to diffuse the situation & let them know they need to apologize, if called for. We’ve left countless situations because someone isn’t taking care of their kids & I am fed up.

    So. Did you guys go to Gymboree today?

  24. FoN

    Amen, sister! Stupid parents who say things like, “kids will be kids!” and then go back to texting while their little monster punches someone in the face need a punch in the face.

  25. WickedStepMom

    I got your back, Casey! My girls regularly roll their eyes at bad parenting. Its has actually been pretty funny to watch them say something to parents of misbehaving kids.

    “You know, you shouldn’t let your kid do that. I am glad I know better than to do that.”

  26. Lin

    I love these oblivious parents. Ugh! And where is the employees/owner of this Gymboree? I know that the parents are supposed to interact with their kids, but there has to have some set rules of behavior for safety reasons, right? I would think so.

    Good for you sticking up for your kids and ALL the other kids. Those other parents standing there with their yappers shut are just as bad as she is. I’m glad that you said something. Maybe she’ll keep away (and her kid) from you and yours. Let’s hope so. Go get ’em, Casey!!

  27. Andrea

    OMG you just describe a German parent! (And no offense but I lived in Germany for 3.5 years, I can say that with the utmost certainty.) I would not have been able to sit there and watch my kids get pushed around without doing something. I probably wouldn’t have had the gusto to do much more than give the very evil eye and walk away.

    Bravo to you my dear, bravo.

  28. Laufa

    Report the Mom and the kids to Gymboree, they can suspend/expel them without paying them back the money they spent for harrassing other children. It is an establishment just like a day care, except you have to watch your own child and sometimes they teach your children. You can also petition the other parents about the situation. You were much more patient than I would have been. My hubby says I need a filter.

  29. Tina T

    I am surprised that the staff didn’t do anything, but I applaud you for taking a stand. We were at a park once and my younger son finally punched a bully that would follow him around and hit or kick him every chance he got. To my shock, the bully threw himself on the ground and started to cry and scream about how hurt he was (the bully was 9 my son was 6).

    I was expecting the mom to be embarrassed, because her son had obviously bullied my son one too many times while she sat on her butt. Instead, she scooped up her bully son and said that they would never come to the park again while we were there. We were the heroes of the park that day, but given the attitude of the mom I’m sure her son just went on to bully even smaller and weaker kids after that.

  30. ck

    That settles it. I’m taking a road trip to FL to hang out at Gymboree with you. I want to watch you kick ass for the rest of us passive-aggressive moms out there.

    (PS: I recently met a mom whom I really liked, but she disciplined her child the same way and watched as her kid beat on mine. I realized that was the end of our new friendship. Glad I’m not the only one who feels that way.)

  31. Rachel

    Yes, yes, yes, and an AMEN! I’ve got 5 bucks, you can totally have it towards bail!

  32. Camille

    Good heavens, I wouldn’t want to get in your way when you’re on a warpath!

    But I totally expect not to be one of the “asshole parents,” so I guess I’m safe. : )

    Props for standing up!

  33. Kirsty @ Gone Bananas

    I’m sooo with you on this post! We’re raising Meg with manners too (although she does have her moments). However I get frustrated at parents that don’t discipline their kids, they just shrug and laugh it off like what their child is doing is cute. You said everything I’d love to and just might from now on! YAY CASEY!!!

  34. Stimey

    Oh, man, I would have been furious. That kind of thing makes me so mad. You don’t just let your kid go around doing stuff like that. I mean, I get that kids don’t always behave right and that sometimes there is a perfectly valid reason behind it that onlookers may not get. But you NEVER let your kid victimize other kids without stepping in to alter their behavior. I commend you for stepping up. Right on.

  35. Sheila

    Set up the PayPal…I will contribute to your bail for sure!

  36. anymommy

    I agree 100%. I never mind when toddlers hit, push, whatever. They are babies. But, it drives me nuts when there’s no consequence for the behavior and when their mothers let them terrorize other children.

  37. Fantastic Forrest

    I’m totally with you, Casey. And I like the idea from one commenter about getting Gymboree to kick out this kid.

    But I am troubled by your statement that because you and Jamie are “rais[ing] polite, respectful kids and because of that, our kids are going to be the victims of bullying for their entire lives. Au contraire. You’ve shown your kids that it’s important to stand up for oneself and take action when they are treated poorly. Keep it up. Your kids will be just fine.

  38. Maureen@IslandRoar

    Yay! I am SO proud of you!!

  39. Ginny Marie

    Good for you! I’m not sure I would have had the guts to tell that mom off, but she needed to be told! Someday that kid is going to really hurt someone!

  40. Shangrila

    There is a time for diplomacy and a time to slap the bitch take action-good for you for confronting her! I wish that parents like that would realize that they are not doing their child any favors. Remember my favorite line from The Aristocats: “Ladies don’t start fights…but they can FINISH ’em!” (That goes for Elliot as well!)

  41. Zip n Tizzy


    I could believe it when you were saying that she wasn’t doing anything to stop him, because I’ve seen it way to many times, but that she argued with you about it and never even offered an apology… Usually these parents seem embarrassed and just don’t know what to do, the fact that she was defending her position is outrageous!

  42. Bano

    I am so glad you said something! I have been to similar kid-friendly places and watched parents sit on their butts while their kids break the rules over and over. Good for you for standing up to that woman!!!

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