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.
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.