Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Some people need to learn how to shut their mouths...

From the Matt Walsh Blog, a post entitled "Dear parents, you need to control your kids. Sincerely, non-parents." As the parent of many children from teen-aged to just walking, this post had a lot of resonance for me. I've come a long way from l'esprit de l'escalier impotence of my early years in parenting. Gone are the days where I let rudeness shock me initially only to be replaced by simmering rage for days to follow. I now respond immediately... in love (albeit occasionally tough love) with my ripostes both as a moment of instruction and for my own sanity.

To the fan I lost yesterday:

I don’t owe you an explanation, but I thought I’d offer one anyway. I do this more for your sake than mine. You see, maybe, as you later suggested, I was in a bad mood. Maybe I could have been a bit more polite about it. Maybe I’m more sensitive to it now that I have kids. Maybe I’m just sick of hearing these comments about parents. Maybe I know that my wife has to take the twins with her when she goes grocery shopping sometimes, so she could easily be on the receiving end of your sort of bullying. Maybe I took it personally.

Whatever the case, there I was, walking down the aisles of the grocery store looking for the ingredients for a new chili recipe I wanted to try. I heard the kid screaming from a distance; the whole store heard him. It was a temper tantrum, a meltdown, a hissy fit — it happens. Toddlers are notorious for losing their cool at the most inconvenient times. Nobody likes to hear it, but it happens. You’re out running errands with your little guy, everything is fine, and next thing you know he’s in full-on rabid poodle mode. It’s humiliating and emotionally draining, but what can you do? Pull out that large glass sound proof aquarium you carry around and stick your kid in it so nobody can hear him shriek? That’s a possibility, but the logistics don’t always work. Slightly more realistically, the peanut gallery probably expects you to drop all of your groceries and immediately run into the parking lot, so as to save them from having to deal with the spectacle. But it’s not always that simple; maybe you don’t have time to shut down the whole operation just because Billy’s gone nuclear.

It wasn’t that simple for the mother of this kid. I finally came across her in the beans aisle. She had a cart full of groceries, a kid riding along, and another one walking beside her. Well, he wasn’t really walking so much as convulsing and thrashing about like he’d invented some bizarre, angry interpretive dance. He was upset about something, from what I gathered it had to do with a certain lucky cereal he wished to acquire, but which his mother refused to purchase. I felt his pain, poor guy. My mom never bought me sugary cereal either — “breakfast candy,” she called it. She used to get us Cheerio’s — “breakfast cardboard,” I called it.

I felt the woman’s pain even more. She could bribe her kid into silence, but she was sticking to her guns. Good for her, I thought. Sure, if she’d only meet his ransom demands, my bean purchasing experience would be a bit more pleasurable, but I was rooting for her nonetheless. Not everyone felt the same way, apparently...

Complete post here.


  1. Yeah, I thought this was a really good post.

  2. I don't know who Matt Walsh is, so don't know why he would have "fans". At any rate, his post is good.

    One positive (I do maintain) change in current culture is that parents no longer stash their "special needs" children where the rest of the world cannot see them. The trade-off, sadly, is that both the special needs children and their parents are subjected to abusive and ignorant comments/chastisement from people who DO NOT HAVE A CLUE!

    This may, or may not, have been a special needs child. If he was, then he is familiar to me already -- many, many times over. If he was not, then it still remains out-of-place for me to savage the mother. Only if a child is in imminent danger do I gently intervene. I have addressed a young child about to tumble over the side of a shopping cart, hoping to prevent an accident. When I see a child wandering down the aisles of a store, alone, I do try to locate the parents. I do not do this because I want to reprimand the parent; I do this because defenseless toddlers sometimes are, indeed, snatched by strangers, with horrifying results.

    Thank you for posting this article.