Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Letter to Parents who Suck

I believe in full disclosure, so I’ll tell you now that this is another angry Alice rant. But this isn’t like Dr. Suckypants or the one about the milk where I was a frenzied ball of rage and it somehow turned into something wonderful and sarcastic and hilarious. It’s also not as grave a subject as the peanut butter fiasco but I’d like you to imagine me using my serious voice for this. And picture my serious face. Which looks something like this:

Like this. But with hair.
And better eyebrows.
Awhile back, I talked about strangers who suck. Now I’d like to talk about a more specific group of strangers who suck: other parents.

Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of other parents out there who rock. Plenty. You know the kind, the ones that give you some of their baby wipes when you’ve run out in the middle of changing your child’s very, very disgusting diaper or the one who shares a laugh with you at the fair about the bitch mom who just let her kids butt in line. But as unfortunate as it is, there are other parents who just don’t get it. Who look down on the rest of us and scoff when our kids misbehave in public. Who are either dumb enough or self-absorbed enough not to realize that their kids misbehave probably as much as ours do, and that it’s normal.

As sucky as it is, I expect this type of criticism from older adults who have grown children because they have forgotten what it’s like to be in the trenches of babyhood and toddler-dom. It’s kind of like when you roll your eyes at the 14 year old girls who cry at Justin Beiber concerts, but in reality you loved N*SYNC just as much when you were their age. I also expect it from people who don’t have kids because how can you expect someone to understand a situation they’ve never been in?** It’s the same logic that allowed us to proclaim that we’d never let our future children watch TV, even though we do it all the time now that we actually have them because it allows us to, oh I don’t know, drop a deuce without a tiny person watching or banging on the door.

**This doesn’t mean it’s okay for grandparents or non-parents to judge, it just means that I am willing to understand your point of view and give you the benefit of the doubt, even though you clearly are not nice enough to do the same for me. Bitches.

But when the dirty looks come from someone else who has small children, someone that is in the trenches and is supposed to understand exactly what you’re going through, it just feels like pure, unadulterated betrayal. It also makes that person a smug douchebag and a motherfucking pain in my ass all rolled into one.

Let me set the scene for you: Dawson and I take Thumper to an amusement park. We can tell Thumper is getting hungry and tired and is about to crack, so we sit for lunch. She eats a sandwich, but it’s not enough to stave off the hunger pains and she has an apple sauce-related tantrum in the middle of the lunch area. As we’re dealing with the situation, which obviously includes a time-out, another mother who’s eating ice cream with her son turns around repeatedly to shoot us dirty looks. Then a family of six walks by and the father glances at Thumper with eyebrows raised, then looks right into my eyes and shakes his head at me.

In a perfect world where I could do whatever I wanted, I would have punched that dad in the back of the head, and shoved the mother’s stupid ice cream cone in her stupid face. I would have asked them who they are to judge when they have children too, children who probably have already had a meltdown today or are about to soon. I would have asked them what makes them such perfect parents and what makes me a shitty one so deserving of their loathing stares. Of course, in a perfect world I also would not be charged with assault or be featured on the news as the Bat Shit Crazy Mother Who Lost Her Marbles at Center Island.

Do you know what really irked me about it all? I was actually in control of the situation. My child may have been losing her mind, but I was like Harrison Ford in Air Force One, all stone faced and composed and saying Get off my plane, except it was more like You are getting a time-out now and Dawson was nodding like Yeah, she’s totally got this. So Thumper was buckled in her stroller and still freaking out and we sat there ignoring her for a minute and a half because that’s part of our time out strategy, not because we’re neglectful or ignorant parents. I wasn’t raising my voice to yell empty threats at my daughter, nor was I letting her walk all over me or frantically hoping that lightening would strike and provide a distraction so I could make a hasty exit. I had a plan in place. When the time-out was over, I calmly explained to Thumper why she was in time-out and I calmly told her what I expected of her. And guess what? She stopped screaming and did exactly what I asked her to. So don’t shake your head, roll your eyes, sneer at me or mutter under your breath about my inadequate parenting skills because booyah! I just won that round and if we were in a parenting contest, I would have made you look as unfit as Charlie Sheen. Winning!

Given how up and down our discipline has been lately, I was supremely proud of myself and of Thumper for how it went down. Yeah, she may have thrown a tantrum for no reason but she’s a child and it happens, and that’s okay. What matters is what happens next, and I can’t even begin to explain how happy and giddy and proud I was to see her be able to take a breath, think about what I was saying and then make the choice to listen to what I asked of her. It made me so incredibly angry to think that some Judy Attitudies tried to take that away from us with their stink-eyes.

So to all the parents out there who suck, maybe instead of wasting your time judging the good people of the world, you should take a minute to look in the mirror and see that you’re no better and no different from the rest of us. And rest assured that when I see you in the grocery store and your little one is the kid throwing a hissy fit in the produce section, the look I’ll be giving you won’t be one of contempt, even though you kind of deserve it. I’ll be the one giving you the sympathetic nod that tells you that I’ve been there and that I know you got this. Then I’ll kick all the grandparents and non-parents in the junk for giving you the death stares, because I’m the kind of parent who rocks.


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