Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Mommy Police

So, I try* not to be super-judgmental about other people's parenting choices. But sometimes, you see things that are so blatantly Capital-R wRong that you have to stop yourself from approaching people and lambasting them about their children's behavior.

The Defense would like to present into evidence Exhibit A: Lady With Too Many Kids.

Tonight, to celebrate my FIL's birthday, we went out to eat at Generic Western Steakhouse. You know the kind - mediocre food, lots of peanuts, throw the shells on the floor. Well, in the entry/waiting area of GWS, there's a giant barrel of peanuts with a scoop, waiting to be shelled and thrown on the floor. Which, whatever. I don't love peanuts myself, and the constant underfoot crunchiness isn't appealing to me, but okay, that's fine. It's a gimmick.

As we're waiting, with various degrees of patience, Lady With Too Many Kids (LWTMK) comes in with, obviously, her too many kids in tow. This lady was seriously out of it. She didn't even hardly look at her kids the entire time I was watching her. They came in, headed straight for the barrel of peanuts, and started scooping them out and dumping them on the floor, and stomping up and down all over them. Now, sure, the temptation to stomp is strong in one(s) that young, but the older ones were like 8 and 10 - surely old enough to know better. I'm just kind of staring at them, as they continue to hurl full scoops of peanuts - unopened, uneaten - to the floor and stomp right the hell down on them. It was like a little peanut-stomping orgy. I couldn't tear my eyes away. I don't think it's a bad thing if, say, mom eats the peanuts first and then puts the shells on the floor for the kids to stomp on. At least that would imply some involvement on her part. But those kids had to have stomped a couple of pounds of uneaten peanuts in the ten minutes I was watching them. They were shrieking and digging their hands in the barrel and all manner of ill-behaved hijinks, and the mom just sort of sat there and stared into space. The only time she spoke to them or redirected any of them was when one of them (5? 6?) lay down on the floor and tried to smash the shells by rolling around on them.

Now, I've been so irritated at my children that I zone out on occasion - it's better than yelling, IMO. But never would I take them out in public if I was feeling like that - they might as well have been there alone for all that she was supervising them. Why not just stay home and order a pizza? They can destroy their own house without anyone being the wiser, and LWTMK won't even have to make the pretense of watching. I was just appalled at these kids and at the mom's lack of intervention. My own kids wanted to stomp a peanut shell, and I made them get one (just one) each, and then they had to eat the peanut first before they could stomp the shell. Even if it is just peanuts, I can't ever condone flagrantly wasting food like that. Not to mention annoying the hell out of innocent strangers who just want to eat their overdone steak in peace.

Am I crazy?** I thought it was hideously inappropriate, but nobody else even seemed to notice. Maybe they were all hiding their shock and disgust a little better than I was?

*Try is the operative word here, obviously.
**Any more than usual?


Julie said...

No, you're not crazy - she should've made them stop. I have to admit, though, that I feel like I've been a LWTMK, and the temptation to say "screw it" when they're misbehaving is VERY VERY strong.

Kim said...

I also would have been shocked/disgusted/horrified/etc. I probably even would have commented loudly to my husband about it, hoping that she would hear me and feel guilty. Then again, I am currently childless (for a few more months), but I hope that I will never get to the point where I could ignore behavior like that from my kids or anyone else's.