Parents versus Parenting

Normally, I love kids. I even wouldn’t mind having a few someday. But there are also a great many times where I hate parents. If your kid wants new bike, and you say ‘no’ and he throws a fit, that’s understandable. If his fit includes running around throwing things in the store and kicking people and you do nothing, it’s no longer understandable.

Years ago, I worked at Kroger, a grocery store, and as a college student sometimes I worked day shifts (unlike the high school kids who all worked in the evenings and on weekends). During the day a grocery store gets a pretty large number of mothers with their children. Most kids are fairly well behaved, and when they do misbehave, most parents know how to punish the kid to make them, at the very least, sit in the cart or walk behind mom and pout.

Then one day I met the devil. Satan entered Kroger wearing a powder blue short sleeve shirt, a loose diaper and unmatched socks (one pink, one white). Mother grabbed a cart and began shopping. Satan took off. About five minutes later, the store is filled with a thunderous crash as Satan has pushed over an entire display of ketchup bottles. Satan starts screaming, everyone runs to make sure she’s okay. And Mother starts yelling at people about how dangerous it is to have broken glass around children, acting as though it wasn’t her child that broke the bottles. Clean up begins, Mother returns to shopping, and Satan disappears again. About five minutes later, yelling erupts from the cereal aisle. It appears that Satan has discovered that if you hold out one arm stiff straight out to the side and then run down the cereal shelf you can make all the boxes fall on the floor. Then Satan discovers that the same applies to the cookie aisle. When Satan turns her eyes toward the aisle with the wine bottles, the store manager steps in, sweeps Satan into her arms and seeks out Mother. Mother immediately starts screaming that the store manager let go of her child at once or she’ll press charges. Satan is set down and disappears again. Fifteen minutes later, it is discovered that Satan has been quite because she had to poop. After removing her diaper. On the floor of the magazine aisle. And is now content with rubbing her poop on the pretty people pictured on the covers of the magazines. I spot Mother, pull her aside, explain what is happening and say, “If you don’t spank your child, I will.” Needless to say, she was agast… stunned that I would dare make such accusations about her darling child who was so sweet and would never do anything to hurt anyone or anything. She’d simply had enough of our store’s lack of quality customer service, scooped up her child, and walked right out of the store swearing that she would never ever shop here again.

Later, I got called into the manager’s office. It seems the woman called back and claimed that I spanked her child. I explained that I didn’t, I’d only threatened to spank the child after discovering the poop incident. I got an official write up placed in my work file and told that it was against policy to threaten customers, and the only reason I wasn’t being fired was due to the fact that they were happy that I had insulted the woman and caused her to leave the store.

Two weeks later, Mother returned with Satan in tow. The store manager met her at the door and invoked the store’s right to refuse service. She was very upset, and I distinctly overheard her say that she didn’t know where to go shopping now that she was barred from all seven of her local grocery stores. She began to cry. Meanwhile, Satan was pushing empty shopping carts into the parking lot and two bag boys were desperately trying to stop them from hitting cars.

I often think back to that day when I see unruly children and the parents who have tuned them out, and I know, deep down where it really counts, that should I even become a parent I definately won’t be like them.

This rambling inspired by this article on CNN. Here’s to you Mr. Making Parents Take Responsibility For Their Children Guy. A real American hero.

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