Parents: No Cutsies, Please

by Aurora Bordeaux

This past weekend, I was at the grocery store picking up grub. There I stood, minding my own biz and playing chicken with a bag of Oreos, when some mother came rolling my way with two elementary kids in tow. I was reaching to the bottom shelf to grab a cookie box, having won the battle with Oreos but lost it to a stalemate with a box of Nilla Wafers.

“Get in there!” she pushed her younger son, age 6 or so, right between my cookies and I. “Take that one!” she demanded, and the little bastard snaked my chosen golden box from right below my palm. The woman then started monologuing at top volume to no one in particular about how the boy had an almighty science project, to which I’m assuming that exact box of cookies was somehow pivotal. She then glared at me as if I was the only thing standing between her child and total world domination. I took a step back, somewhat horrified.

The older son, who was maybe 10 but built like a garbage truck, stood beside the woman with the loyal vacancy of a bovine. He then proceeded to openly cough in my face. It was the same loud, hacking, phlemgy cough that’s been going around like wildfire. The one I’d been able to avoid catching before that moment.

The hubs and I suppressed our eye rolls and dodged the ridiculous family by ducking down another aisle. But a few aisles later, we met the boys again, this time with mom having strayed to points unknown. I’m guessing she had moved on to the fruit section to bully old ladies out of their produce. The imps were dueling with cleaning products in the middle of the aisle and were as un-passable as bridge trolls, considering that the older kid weighed maybe twice what I do.

“Excuse me!” my spouse and I chimed in chorus. No response, only more hacking and coughing and slinging of un-purchased store sundry. “Excuse me!” we repeated. Nothing. In the end, I gently but firmly pushed cart to toucas and rammed my way between them. It’s not like I plowed them down or even made direct contact, but the cart evidently spoke more defensively than I ever could.

The whole thing bothered me because it’s representative of a general attitude I see in some parents. So many parents act like they have a major sense of entitlement; they seem to believe that because they have a child, the whole world must revolve around that child (Re: The whole world must revolve around the parent by proxy). They use their children as an extra arm when pushing people around.

Don’t get me wrong—we should respect one another, and I try to help parents out—that is, when it’s convenient for me. I will try to open doors for you when your hands are full and you have a child screaming in a ninety pound, car-sized stroller that probably cost as much as my car. I will begrudgingly let you take the good parking spot when you’re pregnant and the store has a giant stork proclaiming to the world that expectant mothers get to park right by the door. But I can’t condone cutting in line, and that seems to be the credo many parents are teaching.

The kids in the store had clearly adapted the same rotten attitude as their mother, and I shudder to guess what kind of adults they may grow to be.

That’s one reason I don’t particularly want a child. Though I’d like to think that I would be capable of raising a kid who covers their mouth when they cough and at least apologizes when they shove people, I know full well that they’d be going to school with pushy bastards like the ones from the store. What am I supposed to do when my kid comes home saying they were bullied by someone like that?

Even if krav maga is a solution, I don’t want someone I love to be subjected to the pain of being pushed into choosing between having to defend themselves or lay down and take it. I don’t want to be around so many kids today, so how could I send a beloved little one out to the wolves?

As childfree people, or as parents who are respectful of others, what is the recourse to such regular bullshit and bullying in the aisles of the local market? Fighting back only takes time and energy, and it usually won’t awaken people to the horrors of human beings they have become. All I can do is frown, sigh, shake my head, and pick up a bottle of something bubbly to enjoy at home, knowing I can relish in the quiet haven of being childfree and not having the responsibility of making anyone else, including my nonexistent kid, a better person.

  • Vanessa says:

    I too haven encountered the “entitled parents”, but what I find more annoying or alarming really is the “Robot Parent”. Those parents that rarely seem to peak their heads away from the iPad, android or laptop to scold, or even speak to their child.The people I have witnessed doing this are younger and don’t seem to think they have much responsibility to the small spawn than they do to a twitter or facebook account. Whose raising these kids? Is anyone else seen this, or is this just my area?

    May 4, 2012 at 2:16 pm
  • Rebecca says:

    I agree wholeheartedly. I live on a city block with a lot of young children. I have two dogs. Two young, hyper boxers who are friendly, but hyper. My neighbors take great pains to let us know both verbally and non-verbally that they believe they have the right to let their kids chalk up our house and front steps with their sidewalk chalk (while playing directly on our front steps most of the time). These same individuals have taken great pains to let us know their children playing on our steps take precedence over us coming out of our front door with our dogs. They have done this via snarky comments and a variety of dirty looks.

    On one particularly unpleasant occasion, a neighbor tried to tell me that we didn’t understand the fear of life that she had as a mother because we are not yet parents. I told her we were not going to have children and that these dogs were part of our family. She balked at this and told me I was ridiculous, dogs can’t be a part of one’s family and that we would never understand. She then proceeded to tell me that none of the parents on this block were going away and that we perhaps needed to think about that.

    I moved into this house, mind you, five years ago, before there were any kids on this block.

    Parents care about their kids, their kids are their universe. I get that. I just wish they would realize that their kids do not comprise the entirety of my universe.

    May 4, 2012 at 2:29 pm
  • Aurora Bordeaux says:

    Rebecca–As the parent of a dog, it seriously pisses me off when people look at me like I have no heart or life just because my pet isn’t a child. What, do pets not have thoughts, feelings, needs, bodies? Those people are arrogant and ridiculous, but likely were so long before they became parents. If your dogs are on a leash when they’re outside a fenced area and are trained, I see no issue whatsoever that any parent would have with any dog. Perhaps a sprinkling of thumb tacks on your steps would keep the sidewalk chalk at bay? Or you could pour a beer or two on them, so it smells stale and is gross. :)

    Vanessa–Yes, I know the iPad parents well. The hip parents, the ones who think their children are accessories the same way some nimrods buy small dogs without considering that they’ve invited a living creature who needs care into their lives. I see this a lot in certain places I visit, and it always makes me feel really sorry for the child. The kid’s hot, shoeless, inches from a busy street and begging mom for dinner, and the parents just tune the poor kids out. I suppose a child can survive it, but what a way to grow up. Sad.

    May 4, 2012 at 2:55 pm
  • Pauline says:

    LOL @ the pictures.
    I’m horrified by your experience at the grocery store, but unfortunately, am not surprised. Parents are often tired and stressed, particularly those of younger ones, and some think that this gives them carte blanche to treat people like crap. In reality, we all have stresses but they think that only theirs matters because they had children. The entitlement is disgusting and stiffling!

    May 4, 2012 at 3:44 pm
  • SS says:

    Rebecca-If you have a sprinkler system, you can time it to come on right around after school time and set it so the water runs over the chalk art (not during summer or when the kids would like it). Other idea, potted cacti on your front steps, unless that would endanger your dogs. Depending how far your steps are from the street, you could write words in chalk that children shouldn’t know on your upper steps so the kids get a vocabulary lesson and then wash them off each evening. Unless the parents are trespassing, they won’t see it. Maybe there is a sealant you could put on walkway that makes it impervious to chalk?

    You shouldn’t have to deal with inconsiderate jerk neighbors, but maybe there are harmless ways to defend your space.

    May 4, 2012 at 4:08 pm
  • Rebecca says:

    Thank you all for your creative advice! I love it! The dogs are always leashed, and we/they do work with behaviorists regularly, so they are trained and learning everyday. The problem is (which is not a problem at all really) that we give then a TON of exercise. I run with them in the mornings and they walk with us in the evenings. I work from home so I am out with them all the time. The stay at home moms don’t like that much. Sadly, we have chosen not to fight on this and have started taking them out the back way into the alley behind out house to get out to the street. It works better for them, it’s quieter and we don’t have to deal with the surprise of a toddler or two startling all of us as we open the front door. Since we are really in the middle of a city, our “front yard” is the city sidewalk.

    What I am primarily upset about is what you hit on, Aurora: the fact that these women have judged us and deemed our values to be incorrect and our way of live secondary to their own selfish wants and needs.

    I want to thank you again for this blog, it’s such an oasis amidst a desert of judgement!

    May 4, 2012 at 7:49 pm
    • Aurora Bordeaux says:

      Sounds like your dogs are probably better behaved (and better raised) than the mongrels trying to color on your steps. Don’t let the bitches get you down, Rebecca.

      May 4, 2012 at 9:11 pm
  • SS says:

    Rebecca-You are right, sometimes you have to pick your battles and it isn’t worth the aggravation when dealing with the entitled crowd. Today a woman with her stroller made a point of not swerving for those of us on the sidewalk talking, she plowed through bumping my bag on the way. In case the cactus and sprinkler idea sounded like they were for your dogs, I meant those as deterrents for the kids, I assumed you have very well behaved dogs! :)

    Aurora-It feels rude to comment on a comment and not thank you for your blog. It is encouraging to see more and more childfree people have a voice. Thank you for creating your blog.

    May 4, 2012 at 11:07 pm
  • Angela says:

    This piece is spot-on!! I often see children push their ways into a crowded underground train, and grab the empty seats like musical chair. If there is another empty seat next to it, they will save it for their parents or grandparents, who are wading in slowly. The adults would actually praise the children for grabbing a seat, but they are totally ignorant that their children have just stepped on everyone else’s toes (physically!!).

    May 7, 2012 at 12:11 pm
  • Rosrua says:

    Yesterday I stopped to get fried chicken on the way home and had to wait while they cooked my order. A mother with about five kids was in the restaurant having dinner. Evidently a couple of the kids were friends of her kids. Sounded fine and fun. When the endless questions started from the kids, and the complaining, I just wanted to run, anticipating another World War. But I gotta hand it to this mom; she reminded me of my mom in her ease of helping the kids, sorting out the issues and getting them packed up and out of the restaurant before any of them had a chance to further ruffle anyone’s nerves. Perhaps she was descended from Mary Poppins. I wish more moms were like this. Unfortunately we see too little of the good mothering ability. Also, I can’t rule out that perhaps all the planets were simply aligned correctly for one day, one hour, for this mom. Doesn’t change the fact that when I see parents with kids in the store I head the other way automatically for the same reasons that you outlined above. The little terrors’ bad behavior is usually backed up by their parents (and gained from them as well).

    Also: thank you for creating this blog and giving the rest of us a chance to cheer (and to share comments and stories) because there are others like us out there.

    You fill a needed space. I am so Facebook-depraved (I have a love-hate relationship with that site and call it FaceSlap more often than not) that I want a “Like” button on every post…

    June 9, 2012 at 1:42 pm
  • Azza D says:

    I make loud, snarky comments about how they are unfit and terrible parents and how they and their children should be chemically castrated by the state because people like that shouldn’t be allowed to reproduce so that they will hear them and then walk away. In no way is that a mature reaction, but it gets my point across, makes me feel better so I can get on with my day without them in the back of my mind and I never have to see them again. The reaction is generally a shocked expression. Only once was I confronted with a “what did we ever do to you” and my long-winded rant about the horrific actions of her children in a public place made the woman be quiet and walk away.

    October 11, 2012 at 5:28 pm

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