Free Parenting Lessons! Inquire Within
My son turned 6 last Friday, officially making him a big boy and me an old lady. To celebrate, he wanted to head down to the Indiana State Fair for the rides. We also took him to Disc Replay to pick out some games for his new GameCube and the GameBoy he got last Christmas. He had a blast at the fair with the giant slide that he rode about ten times and he picked out some great video games. I’m certain he had an enjoyable birthday weekend and I’m also certain we pushed ourselves past exhaustion; none of us were anywhere near ready for it to be Monday. It was definitely worth it though.
My son can get a bit out of hand from time to time and is not above throwing a fit at school or, like last night, using the towel rack as a pull-up bar. He causes trouble and sometimes makes me wonder if I’m doing something wrong as a parent. That being said, my kid is better behaved than 99% of the kids I come in contact with, especially the gremlins we were around this weekend.
At the fair, I expected a decent amount of shrieking hyperactive children, fueled by funnel cakes and cokes. I expected to be shoved and stepped on, to trip over toddlers who were fleeing from their parents, and to deal with a tension headache that would result from being surrounded by rowdy midgets. I didn’t expect to have to stand in line behind my son to hold back two older boys who were attempting to cut him in line. I didn’t expect my son to turn around and give a boy a foot taller than him the look of death after the tall boy poked and bumped into him one too many times. I can only place half of the blame on the children though; why should they behave when their parents are busy smoking cigarettes, playing with their smartphones, loudly gossiping and laughing with friends, and simply ignoring the kids and their bad behavior? Disc Replay was equally as bad as the fair, which is unacceptable because a store is not a place for kids to run wild. One child screamed “I WANT MY BAH BAH,” “I WANT THAT, GIMME GIMME,” and “PICK ME UP NOW MA MA!” over and over and O-V-E-R again while his mother dragged him through the store as she browsed movies. My son asked me permission to pick up about a dozen movies that a child had knocked onto the floor. One child kept burping and laughing hysterically. One kept spitting and making fart noises with her mouth. One used language that even I would be uncomfortable using in public. And all the while, the parents did nothing. To these less than involved parents, I have a few words of advice:
1. Teach your child some manners! Rude kids grow up to be rude adults. Tell your child to add “please” onto their requests, followed by a “thank you” when you oblige. If they can’t manage to squeeze in a please, they don’t get what they want. Lead by example with this one and make sure you say please and thank you when necessary.
2. Pay attention to your kid! Don’t update your Facebook or text your friends while your child is kicking over store displays. Don’t continue shopping while your kid throws random objects at other store patrons. If you can’t handle your child AND do your grocery shopping, leave the kid at home or bring a chaperone along with you that will keep your child in check. Don’t stand idly by while your child terrorizes everyone around him.
3. Monkey see, monkey do. If you’re carrying on like an idiot with your friends, your kid will assume it’s acceptable to be loud and obnoxious as well. Save your rowdy time for the nights you have a babysitter and you’re out of the house. When you’re with your kid, act in a way you would want them to act, a way you would be proud of.
4. You are in charge! Your little one does not dictate where you go, what you do, or what you buy. They’re not going to be happy with everything they have to do, but that’s life. They don’t get to go everywhere they want to; make it clear that not everywhere is a kid-friendly setting and don’t take them to adult-only places, no matter how much they beg and complain. Don’t be afraid to tell them NO! Otherwise, they’ll see you for the pushover you are and they’ll control everything.
5. Bad behavior is not cute. I’m guilty of saying “aww” once or twice when my son was starting out on solid foods and would splatter mashed green beans everywhere. It was cute when he was a baby, but it stops being cute once you realize what a pain it is to clean up that mess. When at a restaurant, it isn’t cute when your kid dumps the sugar caddy on the floor, finger paints in ketchup on the walls, or screams because he doesn’t want macaroni and cheese. It’s not cute when your child throws whatever they can grab and laughs hysterically at the people dodging objects or stuck cleaning it up. How cute would it be if I spit my chocolate milk in YOUR face? Not cute at all? Well I don’t think it’s cute when your kid does it to me. Don’t encourage bad behavior.
6. Own the authority. When I worked retail, parents used to say “Stop doing ____ or that lady will get you!” During my days waiting tables, it would be “If you throw your food, that lady will get very mad at you!” Great, so a bunch of kids now think I’m the big bad monster at your local department store or restaurant. Sure, it’s easier to make a stranger into the bad guy so your kid doesn’t hate you, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. Try telling your kid to knock it off or they go to bed early, lose their toys, or can’t watch cartoons for a week. I’m sure plenty of cashiers at Walmart are pretty sick of being called the “mean lady” by mothers trying to frighten their kids.
7. It’s called “baby talk” for a reason! Growing up I knew a boy who said “napkee” rather than napkin until he was eight years old. Baby talk is cute because babies and toddlers can’t quite form the words properly and instead spout out adorable alternatives. Adorable or not, it’s the wrong way to speak. “Does baby want blankee?” shouldn’t be coming out of your mouth. Additionally, baby talking to your kids is insanely annoying to the adults around you who are stuck listening. Especially in public restrooms. I can’t pee when all I hear from the next stall is “Sweetie, go pee pee? Mommy goes pee pee, see? You go pee pee? Need wipey?” Ugh.
8. Watch the language. I say fuck, shit, damn, hell, cunt, and a wide variation of other words that you won’t learn on Sesame Street. I don’t say them around my kid. Neither should you. For you kidless folk, if you happen to be in a Toys R Us or anywhere that puts you around children, watch your fucking mouth please.
9. Don’t rely on unwilling babysitters. Working retail and waiting tables put me in many positions where a patron would either leave their kid with me or would ignore their kid completely knowing that myself and my coworkers would follow them around to ensure they didn’t destroy anything. Working at Ross, I can distinctly remember five times I chased a child out the doors, stopping them just steps from walking into oncoming parking lot traffic. THAT IS NOT MY JOB! Yes, the guy at the fair will probably grab your kid before they start pulling at electrical cords, but they shouldn’t have to. You have to. Or at least give the unwilling person who is keeping your kid from eating stuff off of the floor $20 or so.
10. Take responsibility and make your kid do the same. If your child bumps into someone, tell your child to apologize and please do the same. Make an effort to clean up your mess when out to eat and have your child pick up his discarded napkins off the floor and stack them on his plate. If your kid knocks items off of a store display, make your kid pick it up. Say excuse me when someone is in your way so your child learns to say it rather than shove past people. If your kid is throwing a tantrum, have the decency to remove your child from the setting and go somewhere private; people around you shouldn’t be forced to listen to a screaming child if they don’t have to. Until your kid is 18, YOU are responsible for them! Spend those 18 years showing your child the proper way to act and holding them accountable for bad behavior. Trust me, it’s a great feeling when strangers go out of their way to tell you how polite and well-behaved your kid is.