What is it with Parents?

I had another run-in with a kid that wasn’t mine the other day. Spoiler alert: I almost lost my patience. Big shock, right? I don’t know what it is, but unruly kids are just a real, constant, and severe pet peeve of mine. It’s not so much the kid itself that annoys me; it’s the idea that there are parents that drop the ball on basic child rearing skills. I see it in these kids’ faces, their lack of guidance, and it annoys me to no end. I know not every kid can be given the best parents. Some are born into difficult circumstances. I get it. I’m not talking about that. I just mean, for the sake of this entry, basic etiquette. Little tiny manners that a kid should be taught from the get go. Yet, I was recently shown that, nope, this is not always the case.

I was at the Cracker Barrel Restaurant with my daughter trying to have a decent meal and we were doing a pretty good job at it. Good food? Check. Sparkling conversation? Check. Hospitable wait staff? Double check. Almost everything was in alignment for a perfectly satisfactory meal. The only kink was the group sitting next to us. There were four adults and, oh, roughly 300 kids screaming their heads off. Obviously there weren’t 300 kids there, but it sure sounded like it.

One of the kids, this little girl maybe three years old, was rocking so furiously in her chair she toppled right onto the floor. A concrete floor. It got to the point that I was seriously worried about her. A hard fall like that has “eventual head trauma” written all over it. But she kept on doing it. Or, more specifically, the adults didn’t do anything to stop it from happening. The girl fell off her chair, backwards no less, five or six times. It made for an interesting obstacle course for our server. I have to give her credit (the server, not the girl), she’s quick on her feet…able to leap around unexpected child-sized falling objects with a tray full of food with nary a hair out-of-place.

Without major injury, the child got bored with that little trick (thank god, cause my nerves couldn’t take it) and started to amuse herself by flinging her shoes off, sort of like how adults do after they walk through the front door after a long day and just can’t have those pumps on anymore. You just flick your ankle and send them across the floor a little in front of you. The girl was doing that, except being three years old, she has the coordination of a three-year old and the shoes were flying everywhere. And let me tell you, she got some good distance on those suckers. Again, the adults didn’t seem to notice, care, or think this was something that should be corrected. Shoes were landing on the table and in their food for cryin’ out loud!

Sarah and I ate our meal a bit tensely, waiting with bated breath, like a couple of nervous outfielders at a Little League game anxious for that moment when we might be called upon to catch a pop-up as it made its way to our section of the field. We didn’t want to be caught sleeping on the job and have a shoe end up in our grits.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. The real winner was when the five-year old of the dinner party came up to our table as the family was leaving. She stood at our table and stared. And stared. And stared. We thought at first she was checking out the pictures on the wall around us, but after a solid five minutes we realized, no, she’s staring at us. Standing stock still, she was unapologetically boring into our souls with her creepy little eyes. She was starting to freak me out, like one of The Shining twins, and I had no idea what to do.

The thought crossed my mind that maybe this was something she couldn’t help doing. But I had just watched her at her table for well over an hour with three other kids and was pretty confident she was nothing but a nosy inquisitive little girl who didn’t know how impolite it is to stare. (If I’m wrong, then this is just one more reason I’m going to burn in hell.)

So right about the time Sarah and I had decided to speak up, the mother apparently realized that this young member of their delightful group was missing (they were almost completely out of the dining area by this point) — but I guess thinking it wasn’t important enough to actually come back, she simply yelled across the room full of dinner patrons for the child to get herself over there. The girl grinned and took off.  And well, there you have it. Dinner and a show a la Cracker Barrel.

So what do you do in a situation like that? Fight fire with fire and stick out your tongue? That could give the wrong message that you’re in on the joke and don’t mind the unsolicited company. It could also garner you some dirty looks from other adults. Do you invite the kid into your booth and adopt her until the parents realize they’re one short? I can’t see the parents appreciating that one. Unless it goes the other way, and you wind up with another mouth to feed. Or maybe take the curmudgeonly route and say “Can I help you?” or some such thing and hope they go away? While probably satisfying…again, not so popular with the parents. Sometimes it would be nice if you could just call in the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Oh, don’t roll your eyes at me, we’ve all been there.

While I realize that when you’re in public, you have to deal with a lot of annoyances (trust me, I know), there should be certain things that are just a given. For instance, when you’re out to dinner, you should never, ever find yourself in the position of having to quickly sum up ideas on how to deal with an unnerving, staring child. Or catch flying shoes.

32 thoughts on “What is it with Parents?

  1. I have no clue what to do in those situations either! Although you could have said to that girl “If you stare long enough a fly will fly into your eyes and lay their maggots inside your eyes” LOL…That probably would have been to be mean though,lol

  2. Maybe it’s a generational thing, but I would have spoken politely but firmly to the parents after the first fall from the chair – and insisted that the manager speak to the parents about the flying shoes. I’m paying for my meal and I’m entitled to enjoy it and management is there to ensure that I do.

  3. RE the fall from the chair. One of my sisters is a doctor. When she sees unsafe stuff like that in public (like a kid perched on a rail over a hard surface) she intervenes. If the parents object she says “okay then, I’ll see you in the emergency room next time with all the other parents who thought it was fine to let their kids do that.”

  4. Oh my, that was a fun read… and so spot on. Sometimes I think I grew up in a different time, because, I, like you, expect manners… but obviously, thats not big on parents list these days..

  5. I’m afraid I would have done something scary and pretend I was going to eat her if she didn’t leave. I know my parent would have had any one of us in the car before we could say do anything when we were kids and i have no patience for it.

    • I would hate to think what my parents would’ve done. LOL My kids wouldn’t have had the opportunity as they would’ve been corralled a bit better. I realize “kids will be kids” but I only have so much patience…which seems to be very little these days. 🙂

  6. Oh, my, Wendy. My lack of patience and big mouth would have led me to words with the parents for sure. First, a polite request to keep their children from disrupting my dining experience. And if that did not work a louder request shut them the hell up. As for the staring 5-year-old, I think I would have said, Hey, kid, your parents are almost to the car and I bet it’s a long walk home.

    • I’m with you! But my daughter wouldn’t let me! 😀 LOL She said it would in turn be rude and then she quoted something I must have said to her years ago that I didn’t remember having said (and still don’t) but nonetheless won the case of me keeping my mouth shut. Sometimes my daughter is too nice for my own good. 🙂 Although I could have and probably should have notified management of the free-for-all during dinner and had it been a more upscale restaurant, I would have.

      • I’m pretty sure that on a previous children-gone-amok tale of yours here I related my nightmare tale of the shrieking toddler at the next table on the first cruise that I went on with my now dear wife Karen. I really do still have nightmares about how that went down in regard to how badly it can blow up when parents and families not only don’t care, but think that their child’s disruptiveness is cute while your party fumes and fumes and then blows up.

      • I’m sorry your vacation was marred by that horrible incident. It’s a shame when another ill-mannered family ruins something enjoyable. And made all the worse because they probably never even saw they were at fault. Well, if Marvel Comics have taught me anything, it’s that heroes aren’t always all they’re cracked up to be and the villains are often misunderstood or are “put upon” which is why they become villains. So I often side with the villains (not the really awful ones like Thanos but the really cool ones like Loki). So you’re like Loki. 😀 But truly, it’s a shame your vacation was messed up in that way. Especially to the point that you still get angry about it. I’m sorry for that.

      • I still get angry at the cruise ship staff, particularly the head waiter in our section, for putting his head in the sand and running away from the issue instead of defusing it by moving one of our parties as he should have. That’s all. And we’ve gone on seven more cruises on the same line without incident, so it was just a one-tiime thing, but jeez the shrieking kid through three formal dinners, Wendy, and a head waiter nodding his head life a goofball while our waiter and assistant waiter were at their wit’s end from the assault on their ears, too. When the man sitting next to me finally screamed out at the parents, half the people sitting around us clapped for him and the other half booed at him. Then the parents screamed back, And the head waiter disappeared for the rest of the dinner. It was surreal.

      • I think I would’ve given a standing ovation to the man who finally snapped. The head waiter definitely failed in his job, that’s for sure. Sitting through three formal dinners of that would stretch anyone’s patience to the breaking point. I don’t think I would’ve lasted three dinners myself. I realize that going out in public means some inconvenience in the form of people (both children and adults) and that some patience is required (I try really hard) but shrieking children and parents who do nothing about it is just too much and I cannot believe they (the parents and the people booing) could not see that. Why on earth would they think that forcing that kind of behavior on those around them is acceptable?

      • We couldn’t understand it either, Wendy. Also, the fact that our whole table of eight and our adjoining table on the other side of eight were traveling together, that was a lot of people for the cruise line to not worry about.

      • I can understand some staff members being adverse to confrontation or not used to being in the public eye but a head waiter should be more accustomed to dealing with situations that require tact as well as outright admonishments when necessary. The cruise line dropped the ball on that one. I’m glad you’re subsequent trips were more pleasant.

  7. I have no problem being a curmudgeon in situations like you’ve described. Any child that stands and stares at strangers *needs* a curmudgeon to tell them that it’s not OK to be rude.

    I probably would have piped up earlier with a curmudgeonly comment, too, something along the lines of “Hey, would mind keeping your herd under control?” I have no patience for the terminal oblivious.

    • Now see, I’M like that! I wanted to say something to the little girl. But my daughter…no matter how she may come across (she’s usually sarcastic and lacks patience like me), is really very polite and sweet and she always encourages me to contain my curmudgeonly tendencies (which is most likely for the best). 😦 LOL Sometimes though even her good influence cannot win the day because there is only so much rudeness I can deal with before I snap.

  8. I could write a million of this stories about horrible and rude kids, doing hateful and inappropriate things while their parents either ignore them or smile at their kids and at the people they trip and annoy or irate. Can’t stand this. The latest was a woman from another country, her 3 year old laying on the floor saying F you over and over again to his mother and she didn’t do one single thing. He was screaming at the top of his lungs. The only time she spoke was when her husband walked away…she said, “where are you going?” He didn’t look back. EVERYONE was horrified at the scene. No one moved. People were frozen, standing there in TARGET watching this horrid brat swear while his insane mother did NOTHING. I’ve seen kids play on the rubber mats that open automatic doors…over and over. Almost tripod three elderly people and the idiot mother finally said, “Be careful. You might get hurt.” She had no concern for the people walking into the store but though her horrific child might get hurt. It was all I could do not to step on the ugly little brat. I don’t really care if his parents are to blame, I just wanted to squash him. 🙂 I won’t even go into the horrible things in restraints. It’s too horrible and insane to even talk about.

    • That woman in the Target is nuts. Sounds like she has more problems at home than just the kid.

      A woman I knew some time ago treated her daughter like an adult from the get go – she wouldn’t tell her to stop doing anything (I’m assuming unless it was something dangerous but I don’t know for sure) because according to her “I wouldn’t tell another adult to stop doing that.” When we went to dinner at this very nice restaurant (and I mean, NICE), her daughter who might’ve been 4 at the time was banging the silverware against the fine china and an older gentleman of our party said you should tell her to stop before she breaks it…the woman said, “No, I wouldn’t tell another adult to stop, so I won’t tell her to.” Now how crazy is that!? Personally, if another adult was getting on my nerves that badly (and was possibly going to cost me money by breaking something expensive), I think I would HAVE to tell them to stop. LOL

      I don’t understand people who don’t teach their kids how to act in public. They’re certainly not doing the kids any favors.

  9. I have little patience for kids acting out in public and even less for their parents. I would have gone to management and demanded something be done. Hubby is worse and would like have made some very loud, pointed observations about clueless rude parents who think their entitled to inflict their poorly behaved children on everyone else, and worse, didn’t seem to give a rat’s behind about their child’s safety. The staring kid would never had made it that far. 😁

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