Thursday, 07 March 2013
So, I’ve just dropped my kids off at school, treated myself to a Chai Tea Latte from Coffee Bean, and sat down in the waiting room of my local Jiffy Lube for my regular oil change (by regular I mean yearly). I can’t lie, I feel a slight bit of pride as I sit there, finally taking care of something that is not only well overdue, but screams responsible adult, which shockingly, is something I still grapple with as a...uh...mature, mother of two. I mean, when will I pay my cable bill BEFORE they send me the voicemail informing me my service could experience interruption?
Anyway, I knew I would have an hour to kill and I had a new book downloaded onto my phone, so I settled in to a surprisingly comfortable black chair in the Jiffy Lube waiting room. I was alone, the food network was on their television and all was quiet. For me at that moment, it was the equivalent of a beach chair over looking the water on a sweet vacay. Wow. That sounds pathetic but whatever. I gotta take these moments when I can!
So I’m sitting there, and the various characters start to trickle in. And in walks the mom with the toddler. Okay. Here’s the deal. I’m about to sound like a total asshole, but bear with me; I don’t like other people's kids. There. I said it. There are moments when I don’t even like my own kids, but that’s always fleeting (and I’m joking. Kind of). Stranger's kids, to be exact, are usually annoying and always smell a little. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure if I don’t like the kids or the parents that seem to think their kids are the cutest things on this planet. And as they interact with them, it always seems like they’re talking with their kids a little louder than necessary. Like they’re wanting the people around them to take notice and marvel at how cute she thinks they are. I think that’s what annoys me.
It reminds me of something my husband said to me back when I was pregnant with our first child. A late night panic hit me and I turned to him in bed beside me and said, “What if our baby is ugly?” And he looked at me calmly and assured me, “well, we will never know." And that statement was probably the most truthful right-on sentence he'd ever said. Then he reminded me of the pumpkin-head baby we saw once at Babies-R-Us. We were wandering through the aisles trying to find a crib, when we saw this lady bent over into her stroller, speaking to her baby is such a warm, kind, loving tone that we both stopped and watched for a minute. She was so in love with her baby in that moment and in my head that baby was clearly magical and I just HAD to take a peek. Like baby Jesus was going to be in there and I would somehow be changed forever. So, my husband and I made our way over to look, the mom looked up, beaming at us, and stepped aside. We peeked in, fully prepared to drop our best baby coo, but it wasn’t a baby in there! I mean, it had a baby body, but the head? Was a pumpkin. A pumpkin head with giant brown eyes that were not babyish at all, they were Damien from the Omen movie and it literally scared the shit out me. Like, I jumped backwards. Thankfully, my husband was able to handle it more tactfully, but me... being 8 months pregnant, I didn’t have the energy to fake it. I can’t be sure, but I THINK an “Oh good GOD, Run!” escaped my mouth. The mother didn’t seem to notice, though. So, case in point: To that mother, her weird, devil-eyed, old man with a pumpkin-head baby was beautiful. She will never know that it was truly hideous.
Anyway. So, I’m sitting there in the Jiffy Lube Day Spa and the toddler is having a moment like toddlers do. He wants to climb the chairs, pull the styrofoam coffee cups down, tear down all the magazines from the rack, and his mother is following him and saying the expected, “no." And he’s making grunting sounds while reaching for things and she’s saying, “Use your words.” But toddler baby doesn’t care what she’s saying. I’m trying not to pay that much attention, I knew if I looked over and we made any sort of eye contact, she would engage me immediately in a conversation about her child that I didn’t want to have. But I could feel her look over to me. She changes tactics and lures him over to a chair across from me and loudly offers him a snack. Loudly. “Num nums?” (Really?) “You want num nums?” This is ridiculous.
I get it. I have kids, I had them as babies, we all come up with stupid words that no one over a year old should mumble, but I’m sorry, this toddler needed the word. It’s a fucking Cheerio. Take the Cheerio little boy. But he doesn’t want to, he wants to throw them on the ground and this irritates his mother. So, she does what any good disciplinarian should do (insert sarcasm font) and hands him another, which ends up on the floor and I look up a little, more or less a subtle way to let her know that I don’t care and give a weak, non-engaging smile. Then she looks to him, says “NO!” then slaps his hand. Hard. What the fuck? I ignore it. He throws another num num. She smacks his hand again. This time it’s harder and the sound in itself ruins my day. I sort of glance up and she’s looking at me, like she’s saying, right? And I can’t hide my disapproval. And I’m like, no. Not right lady. Pick on someone your own size!
Look, I don’t hide that I’m anti-spanking, but what happens in your own home is none of my business. But to haul out and smack your kid, freely, without hesitation or warning in front of strangers, to me, is a form of humiliation and bullying, and quite frankly, makes me beyond uncomfortable and mad. And her looking at me, like she could tell I was a mother and we were kindred spirits somehow and that I would be like, “Yeah fellow Matriarch, smack him! Smack the shit out of that 2 year old!” made me sick inside. And I knew if I said anything, we would find ourselves in a screaming match, white trash style and that wasn't going to help that little boy. What I wanted to do was bring out street Jessica, go Alabama back woods on her, and slap the crap out of her with my acid washed jean jog bra. But I am a lady. (I know, I know... Stop laughing.)
My name was called and my car was ready and I tried not to look at either of them on my way up to the counter, but found myself feeling sorry for the little boy. He was just doing what he’s supposed to do by doing what he’s not supposed to be doing. I’m not going to get all organic, Montessori/Waldorf school on you and be like, "Hey man, let him be." Kids need hard rules and they need to know when you’re serious. But, please, that kid will start school soon and whatever ego and confidence he has will start to be slowly stripped away by other kids in any elementary school, anywhere. So, for now? Leave him a little bit of dignity and smack him at home. On your own time. Or, I don’t know. How 'bout not smacking him at all? And using your words instead.
Ever witnessed a parent hit their child in public? Would you say something?