Shazam! I wish I were the bartender of the playground

by doodaddy on November 14, 2007

You know how bartenders can say "I think you’ve had enough" and send you on your merry way? I wish I could do that, too, except instead of sloppy drunks I’d be dispatching home toddlers with clueless parents. Come to think of it, a sleepy two-year old does resemble a tight twenty-something.

At the playground today, 3-year old M— came over to the swings with malice in her eye, set on taking Boobaby’s swings. Now, I’m just as game to negotiate a "please-thank-you-wait-your-turn" as any attentive parent. Today, though, I could tell by M—’s glassy eyes that she wasn’t about to learn a lesson in politeness, and Boo was getting bored, anyway. So to help M—’s mom save her battle for another day, we gave up on the swing and went bug hunting instead, commenting in that nod-chuckle way about how M—’s naptime must be coming soon.

M— quickly tired of the swing and careened about for a while, settling at last for tackling a 10-month old bystander. Yep, tackling. Now, every sleepy baby does naughty, envelope-pushing mischief from time to time, right? You apologize, make sure everyone’s bleeding has stopped, and take the offender home for a nap. M—’s mom, though, stayed chatting with her buddies another 45 minutes! With sleepy terror baby on the razor’s edge of tantrum the entire time!

Sheesh. There was a time when I thought being parents makes us less selfish, more likely to look outside our own immediate needs all the time. It works that way for some, but others simply extend their selfishness to encompass their offspring, and a few others don’t seem to become even a whit more outwardly-focused. Such was the case with M—’s mother.

*   *   *

Whenever I witness less-than-exemplary parenting, I’m visited by a slew of competing emotions.

  • First, there’s the inevitable guilt and simultaneous thrill at judging someone else. Crap, am I ever sanctimonious. For my own sanity I’m going to blame the lizardish part of my brain and try to forget about it.
  • Then, there’s relief, sort of a "there-but-for-the-grace-go-I." I’ve certainly had some crappy parenting moments. Glad it was someone else today.
  • Finally, there’s a sort of righteous, detached justification. I think, objectively, that M—’s mom was being crazy. Harumph.

But maybe there’s something I don’t know about the situation? M— won’t sleep unless she’s pathetically overtired? The exterminators were still at the house and she was waiting for the toxins to clear? Aliens had borrowed the Pinto and she was waiting for them to bring it back?

Explaining away others’ poor behavior is a tiring exercise, though. I think I’m going to just decide that M—’s mom screwed up and leave it at that.

Now, if I could only tell M— that she’d hit her limit and that it’s closing time at the ol’ playground.

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in mischief,oddparents,playground ·

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