So I was at the park the other day with my two younger shamblers. They were happily playing in the sand, taking turns burying each other’s hands, feet, ears, and eyes. For once nobody was fighting, crying or being chased out of the park by some over-protective breather parent with a baseball bat. It was a good day.
Nearby, I overheard a trio of breather moms, standing in a circle and chatting. The following is an approximate re-telling of their conversation.
“So is she coming today?”
“No, her son has softball this afternoon.”
“I can’t believe she has him in so many activities. The poor kid has got to be exhausted.”
“Well you know she can’t handle that boy. The kid’s out of control.”
“It’s because she never watches him. She just lets him run around and do whatever, and then she wonders why he doesn’t listen to her.”
At that point I noticed that the offspring of one of the clucking hens was poking my youngest with a sharp stick. Poke, poke. My son did not respond, engrossed as he was in building a sand castle with his brother’s finger for a flag. When persistent poking didn’t get a response, he started throwing sand.
I looked over at the trio of breathers. They kept clucking away, going on and on about their friend, who probably had her son in no activities at all but just wanted to avoid these bitches.
My son finally noticed the sandstorm and turned around. At that moment, I cleared my throat and said politely, “Excuse me, but your belligerent offspring is in immediate danger of becoming my son’s afternoon snack. I find your intelligence and common sense in monitoring your son’s activity sadly lacking.”
Well, maybe it was more like “Aaahhchgrruungghhh! Brraaaaaiiiinnnsss!” while I lunged for her face. But I meant what I meant.
The woman didn’t seem to take my meaning, nor did her friends, but at least we had the park to ourselves for the rest of the day – at least until the folks from the CDC showed up. They’re such a buzzkill.
It is my firm belief that children were put on this earth to teach us humility. The more you assume that you’ve got this parenting thing all figured out, the harder reality is going to lay the smack down. And if you look down your nose at the parenting choices of others, reality will sucker-punch you in the crotch and then monkey-stomp you. It may come in the form of a scolding from the pediatrician or a letter from the principal. If you are very unfortunate, it may come in the form of a referral to see a child psychologist. Or it may come in the form of a trio of raging zombies tearing through the park like shambling nightmares.
But reality is out there, and it knows where you live.