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Archive for Monday, October 13, 2008

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Bad apples? They’re a part of motherhood

October 13, 2008

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I remember before I had a child. I was a really good parent back then. I was organized and, well, perfect. Not like those moms I sometimes saw around town.

Like this one mom I saw at the health food store with her 2-year-old. The kid was cute and all, but her face and hands were slathered in some kind of sticky red goo, and encrusted with ... I guess I'll call 'em "grime-bunnies." And for such a small person, she was loud. Really loud. She shrieked at her mom in this piercing, whiny voice, pointing out every item that she wanted. And she wanted a lot.

She charged around the store and, in a state of apparent obliviousness, rammed into anything in her path, including unsuspecting shoppers' shins. Then for her piece de resistance, this pig-tailed pixie began grabbing organic apples (pricey!) out of the bin and hurling them down the produce aisle. Why they didn't stay glued to her fingers by the red goo, I couldn't say. But they bounced along the floor, most certainly becoming inedible bruise-balls. And her mom didn't do a thing. She just kept shopping.

Can you believe it? I couldn't.

What the heck is she thinking, letting her kid act like that? That's what I was thinking. Well, that and also that I would NEVER, EVER be that kind of parent. MY child would know better than to try anything like that with me. I would just spell it out for my kid. I mean, how hard can it be?

Looking back, now that I'm a parent myself, I remember how that mom looked tired. I remember how she picked up those apples and wearily pushed her cart to the checkout line.

Now, having been through the whole "dead-tired" thing myself, I understand. Some days, just to distract my loud, sticky (but dearly loved) pixie for a few minutes so I could accomplish the smallest task, I'd be willing to look like a bad mommy. Some days, just to get through checkout and home with some food, I'd think to myself, "What's a few bad apples?"

Comments

alm77 5 years, 3 months ago

Read Kevin Leman!! His books are our family guide to raising well behaved children. He believes in "reality discipline". If you make a mess, you clean it up. If you forget your to take you homework back to school, you take your lumps, I'm not bringing it to you. If you throw a fit in public, we're going home, without the groceries (we'll try again later or tomorrow). No drama. The only time we spank is if a) they are endangering themselves and the natural consequences would be deadly or extremely harmful or b) they are blatantly defiant (very rare). Reality has taught them a lot and we've been able to use teachable moments. (Do you think maybe that wouldn't have broken if you wouldn't have left it on the floor to get stepped on?) I will admit, my kids aren't perfect at home, but at school and in public, they are very well behaved (which is where I appreciate it the most). Jason and Py have it right. Consistency without drama is the key.

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leadstone 5 years, 3 months ago

i gotta qoute a phrase the Grandad from Boondocks Used in a similar situation. LADY sobbing- "I just don't know what to do when he acts like that" Grandad-" Have you tried beatin his a$$?" Haul in the reins on that apple-chucker.Unlike the apples his butt-bruises will heal. Keep 'em in check young before they walk on you and make you the fool. I don't care if the snot's flying and he's screaming he hates you. Set his but in his seat and haul him home.After he calms down a bit try to explain why what he did was wrong. If he's stubborn, tell him about how in some countries he'd be losing a hand at best. Then buy him a piano cuz you've got the next Amadeus Mozart. I know, I make it sound so simple, but if parents did what was needed w/o fear of being SEEN being a righteous parent stories like this wouldn't spring and you wouldn't feel you have to feel bad for doing the right thing.It's all about the education, and sorry to say,sometimes learning hurts.I don't know who to feel for...the kid..or the clueless parent. If I've helped anyone.good, if not.. I hope you don't own one of these rascals, and good luck. KIds are #1, but if you fail as a recognized authority figure aka Mom/Dad it's the child who will truly suffer in the long run. I do not have all the answers, but my kids never act like that and more my words than the ol fashioned spankings that brought that.

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denak 5 years, 6 months ago

"....but the fact remains that you can't say that parents of non-fit-throwing kids are lying or delusional....I never said that they were lying or delusional. What I said is that they were in denial or on meds. It was meant to be more of a joke but obviously some people didn't take it as such.However, I stand by my statement that children...between the age of 2-4, throw fits from time to time. They do not have the verbal skills or maturity to articulate their needs as well as older children. Therefore, if I saw a parent who had a children around that age in the supermarket, and said child was throwing a fit, I wouldn't sit there and condemn them. It happens. "....I'm sure if Dena encountered one of them at the store-holding the door for her or saying a kind word to one of her kids...:"No what I would think is "oh what a cute little boy" or "oh what a good little girl" I would not attribute their good behavior and manners to an ulterior motive or drugs. I would attribute their manners and behavior to their age and to parental guidance.However, if I saw the same child get mad and throw down his baseball bat in frustration a few days later, I wouldn't think "oh what a horrible kid" Contrary to what some of you seem to imply, my views are not rigid. Children are not little robots. They develop in a certain way with certain milestones and with certain expected behaviors at certain times in his or her life. So if I see a 2 year old crying in a store, or a 4 year old asking his mother a thousand questions or a 13 year old grunting when you ask him a question, I'm not going to assume that the child is a bad child. I am going to assume that said child is exhibiting normal child developement.It may by annoying and it should be addressed but to say that children at certain ages do not do certain things is not true. And any good child developement book will tell you this.Dena

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Kookamooka 5 years, 6 months ago

Guess what. There isn't a right or wrong way to do this, parenting thing. Some ways are better and more productive and sometimes parents AND children have bad days. To judge people based on things like the dirt on their children's faces, smacks of righteousness. What do we know of that woman's circumstances? We make guesses and assumptions and we scorn her and the child. I fear for a country of such judgemental people, when a depression needs to unify us. Maybe if we were all more compassionate and less critical the world would be a better place within which to raise children. But Lawrence has proven herself, time and again, to be filled with the most righteous of both stripes, Republican and Liberal. They are each so far to the left and right they meet each other in the back. Let's hope God is there to remind them that there is only one true judge.

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towanda54 5 years, 6 months ago

2 Corinthians 11:30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. Romans 12:16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 2 Corinthians 10:17-18 Let him who boasts boast in the Lord. For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. Romans 12:16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

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Pywacket 5 years, 6 months ago

DenaK claims, "No parent can be 'on duty' 24 hours a day."Really, now? And all this time, I thought that was the essence of parenthood. Silly me.Notwithstanding the fact (AGAIN) that no one here is claiming perfection, Dena also claims that, "I don't want to meet a perfect kid or perfect parent. If I did, I would think they were in denial or on medication." There you have it. Dena has already decided that if she sees evidence that runs contrary to her rigid beliefs, she will explain it away as "denial or medication." My kids aren't perfect (as I've already clearly stated) but due to the fact that they were loved and disciplined as needed, they are now respectful and respectable young adults. I'm sure if Dena encountered one of them at the store--holding the door for her or saying a kind word to one of her kids--she'd probably assume ulterior motives--or drugs.You just can't get through to some people--especially those who state up front that they will believe what they want to believe, contrary to the reality before them.

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Pywacket 5 years, 6 months ago

Standing ovation for KansasPerson. You said it all---and beautifully! And you're right--it's probably no use. They will read whatever they want to read into our posts.

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KansasPerson 5 years, 6 months ago

Jason, Pywacket, etc.,Good tries, but I'm starting to think it's no use. No matter how much you patiently reiterate your statements, some people are going to get overly defensive and accuse you of being smug, of acting perfect, or of being in denial about your children.DenaK, I must have amnesia or something because I don't remember going through anything like that either. Some kids throw fits, and some don't, and we can argue until we're blue about who gets the fault (or credit), but the fact remains that you can't say that parents of non-fit-throwing kids are lying or delusional.Not one of the parents on this board has stated that their children are or were "perfect" or NEVER acted up. Why are some of you insisting on seeing posts that aren't there? What parents are saying (yes, I'll try this one more time, but then I'm going to bed) is that WHEN the kids acted up, THE PARENTS RESPONDED!We're not super-judgemental jerks who would have a coronary if a kid cried in a store. Kids cry -- that's life. But if you stretch the definition of "cry" to "run freely around the store destroying merchandise, injuring customers, and endangering themselves," then you and I are gonna have to agree on a dictionary before talking further.

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Jason Bailey 5 years, 6 months ago

@Denak: Then don't believe it. The truth is, my kids have never thrown a tantrum in public because I taught them there were consequences to this action. They learned at an early age that the consequences were much worse than possibly not getting what they wanted via a tantrum.No violence involved. It's all about a strong, consistent response to inappropriate behavior.

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tangential_reasoners_anonymous 5 years, 6 months ago

No bad apples in Stepford... well... not for long.

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denak 5 years, 6 months ago

I don't believe any of these parents who say that their child never threw a fit in the store or out in a public place. I remember one particular fit my son threw in Dillons that was so bad( and I have no idea what it was about) that I had to take him out of the store. He was lying on the side of the building screaming when some nice old lady came over and suggested that I put him on Ritalin. lolHe is 16 years old now and to this day, I tease him about it. And I remind him that all those times that he is embarrassed by me in public are payback for all those times he embarrassed me when he threw a tantrum.Kids are going to throw fits. Sometimes it is age-appropriate. Sometimes it is because they are tired and hungry or stressed. Kids don't have the emotional maturity or verbal skills to tell us exactly what is going on and it is our responsibility as parents to try to minimize the times when a child might throw a fit. (ie don't go shopping when the kid is tired or hungry) but no matter how dilligent a parent may be, sometimes they are just going to have a meltdown. As for the mom in this story, I don't know her situation. I do know that there were times when I just wanted to get what I needed and get the heck out of the store. No parent can be "on duty" 24 hrs a day. Sometimes, we take the easy way out. Personally, I would have gotten the bare minimum and got out of the store, or just left the store and returned later, but maybe that wasn't an option for her that day.Who knows. I'm not going to judge her because unlike some, I know I don't have a "perfect" child and I know that I have not always been a "perfect" parent.And to be honest, I don't want to meet a perfect kid or perfect parent. If I did, I would think they were in denial or on medication.Dena

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Jason Bailey 5 years, 6 months ago

@Pywacket: You hit the nail on the head and more succinctly than I today. I don't think any of us were trying to come across as "holier than thou" or "perfect parents" but, like you said, when our kids acted up, we responded. It's OUR job.Thanks for boiling it down.

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Pywacket 5 years, 6 months ago

As I already said, Towanda, two of mine are grown up and have turned out very well, thank you. And they don't throw a fit when they can't get their way. It didn't work when they were toddlers, so they learned not to do it. It's that simple. Any other questions?A wide array of parenting styles work well, but the writer was talking about someone who ignored her brat as the kid ran into people and threw merchandise around. That is inexcusable and (mom of three) it is a very different scenario than the occasional scream from the cart. Do you not see the difference?My method of taking them outside until they settled down only took a few minutes and I didn't have to do it but a few times. There are other strategies that work, too, including bringing something for them to do while they are in the cart (and not letting them run loose). Letting the kid run rampant is not a strategy!Yes--we have all been exhausted, but people have had to do harder and more focused things while exhausted than contain their own child. (Think military--what would happen if a soldier just ignored what was going on around him because he was "exhausted"!!!) People who can't handle small kids shouldn't have them--or should maybe wait until one is past the tantrum stage before getting pregnant again. Know your limits.And, again, not one of us who criticize lax "parenting" are claiming to be perfect (or even unusual!) or saying that our kids were angels--we're just saying that when they tried inappropriate behavior, we did something about it to get them back on track. Your snotty "perfect parents" comments are false and meaningless.Nobody would criticize a parent whose kid was merely tired & crying, or who was actively trying to redirect a child who was having a tantrum. But this was about someone who was ignoring (i.e., actively encouraging) a kid who was over-the-top out of control.And you defend that?!

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mom_of_three 5 years, 6 months ago

This is for Megan, and not all of you previous perfect parent posters. I understand your point exactly. There are some days you are so exhausted, tired, etc. and you have to go do something. The kid is not behaving as they normally would - they have bad days too. You can't avoid the store, or leave, because you have no other option, so you do what you can, get out the door, and go home. Believe it or not, it has happened to almost every parent in the entire world, whether they admit it or not. Mine didn't run down the aisles, but were occassional screams in the cart. I could't leave, because I had to shop for dinner, and hubby was at work. I was pregnant with #2 and exhausted. Just had to deal and get out of the store. It happens, life goes on, and the kid grows up.

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curious_one 5 years, 6 months ago

Yea, Let's all go smacking our children around in the stores cause thats what the other parent thinks we should do, and thats what worked for them. Give me a breakMy child would never run around a store, or do this,or do that. Pleeeeaaaasssseee. Must be nice to be so purfect.

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tangential_reasoners_anonymous 5 years, 6 months ago

"Those little apples" was intended as a reference to the... children.

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Jason Bailey 5 years, 6 months ago

@tangential_reasoners: Salt of the earth?! Those little apples are the property of a store owner until Meghan actually purchases them. I can't believe you're implicitly supporting the destruction of others' property.

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Jason Bailey 5 years, 6 months ago

@Towanda: What does that have to do with anything? The article was about a mother exhibiting poor parenting skills and blaming it on being tired, whatever, with a toddler or very young child. I can tell you two of my kids are well past the toddler age with one in that bracket -- but I still don't get what my kids' age has to do with the veracity of my argument. Please enlighten me.

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tangential_reasoners_anonymous 5 years, 6 months ago

Hey, Meghan, discount the detractors.Those little apples... salt of the earth.

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Confrontation 5 years, 6 months ago

I'm guessing that geniusmannumber1 is one of those parents who let their children get away with everything.

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towanda54 5 years, 6 months ago

jason, How old are your children?

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Calliope877 5 years, 6 months ago

My mom always received compliments for how well-behaved my two siblings and I were in public. The reason why we were so well-behaved was because she wouldn't let us get away with naughty behavior no matter how tired she was. She wasn't a perfect mother by any means, but she trained us at a very young age to mind our manners, and she wasn't above swatting us right there in the store if we started acting up.

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Jason Bailey 5 years, 6 months ago

@geniusmannumber1: Wow, I bet that comment took you a year's worth of brain energy to come up with. Guess your screen name is a misnomer.@Towanda: The path a child decides to take when they become adults is out of my control. If a child was raised knowing right from wrong and how to control his/her natural human demeanor, which is all about me and only me, then that's all we can do as parents. My point was the parent in the column was not doing their job and that I see it as an epidemic in my generation.The divorce rate in the Baby Boomers 70s - early 90s rose sharply. That ended up with parents who were split and split time which resulted in inconsistent boundaries for the kids. One parent allowed X behavior while the other would not. My generation did not learn consistency in parenting from our parents and it's getting worse. The next generation sees even less of a proper model.When I was a kid, I knew the consequences of talking back to an adult or not following directions. My wife is a teacher of preschoolers and she has story after story of kids being directed and simply saying, "No, you're mean!" I am simply flabbergasted as the cajones these kids have.This is a blight on our society -- but then again, what do we expect? Parents do not demonstrate a commitment to their kids in marriage and a lifestyle of inconsistency. The kids are only following the model they have.

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Luxor 5 years, 6 months ago

I can see what top quality journalism we can expect from the fluffy new little "GO" section.

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KansasPerson 5 years, 6 months ago

Another thought on this, now that I've counted to ten....Meghan may have been simply trying to make this point: Before she had children, she thought that parenting would be a pretty straightforward prospect, but when it became a reality for her, she discovered that some things, like instilling good behavior, are a lot harder than she thought; also that sometimes your child's behavior will embarrass you in public despite your best efforts at discipline. I'd agree with all that -- just not to the apple-throwing extent. That child (in the Merc or wherever it was) still sounds like a shin-bruising menace!

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KansasPerson 5 years, 6 months ago

I was in Dillons a few weeks ago and saw a mother pushing a cart around and a little girl running up and down the aisle, touching everything. Eventually the inevitable happened, there was a very loud CRASH and then a big mess for the store workers to clean up. I felt sympathetic for them as I passed by, but even more so when I saw that, two more aisles down, the mother (who had been aware of the accident) pushing her cart and the child continuing to run around touching everything she could reach.I know that it's going to sound "smug" to towanda54, but honestly, at that age my son was simply never allowed to run around in the store. He stayed in the cart, end of story. He also wasn't ever allowed to get down and run around in restaurants, nor did we bring him to age-inappropriate movies just because we didn't have a babysitter (another sore point for pywacket and for me too, when I see it).Pywacket makes a great point -- it's not a matter of "all parents today are bad parents" but of most parents doing a decent job, quietly and without a lot of fuss. It really is the "bad apples" that get all the press. And maybe it's old-fashioned of me, but I completely agree -- clean your child up occasionally. Would YOU go out in public with goo all over your face and hands? I doubt it!Was this article part of the "Go" supplement? I think I read that it's supposed to include a regular "Bad Mommies" feature. Another reason not to read it.

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geniusmannumber1 5 years, 6 months ago

Everyone on this thread who has made a sweeping generalization about "parents today" is a nitwit.

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Confrontation 5 years, 6 months ago

Most of today's parents are more concerned with being a "popular" parent or their child's best friend, rather than being a disciplinarian. This is especially true for divorced parents who try to compete with the other parent. Kids have enough serious issues today, and having a parent who acts like a child shouldn't be one of them.

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towanda54 5 years, 6 months ago

Well, I detect an overwhelming smugness of the people who've commented on this story. "My children would never act like that........blah, blah, blah." I've raised two children that are now very productive adults. Were they perfect little angels when we went out in pubic, no, they were children. I've known parents who parented exactly how the "experts" above say we should, and one of their kids has turned out to be the "bad apple" while the other children have turned out well. There are many factors that make people who they are and there are varying parenting styles. I have a brother and a sister, we were raised in an intact, traditional family where our mother stayed home. My siblings and I all have differing parenting styles for our own children, from very strict to fairly lenient. You know what, all of our kids have all turned out to be nice human beings who we enjoy spending time with. So, I'd say parenting styles have less to do with the outcome than the fact they were all loved and encouraged by their parents and some of it just luck or genetics. Timothy McVeigh was a well-behaved child according to articles that have been written about him, so maybe you smug parents need to reserve judgment until your kids are grown and responsible adults.

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craigers 5 years, 6 months ago

The sad thing is that people view loud kids who are whining or crying in a store as bad. Kids need to know that even if they cry, you probably aren't leaving the store because you went there for a reason. I would never let my kids run through the store kicking, running into people, or throwing products everywhere but the public generally needs to be more understanding of parents in public. Sometimes the crying is the kid trying to get their way and by picking up and leaving everytime they cry you are giving into their whining as a tool of negotiation. I know, a difference of opinion from some of the other posters but we all need to try not assuming the other parents in the stores are bad parents because their kid gets loud either.

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Pywacket 5 years, 6 months ago

Road apples is more like it.How clever of you, Meghan, to let the least-common-denominator mom become role model for your own lax parenting. While your interest was riveted on that rampaging, apple-throwing brat and her Stepford mother, you missed noticing all the decent, equally tired, but diligent parents who were teaching their children the fundamentals of public behavior.If my kids started whining or acting up in public and didn't stop on demand, I left the cart and hauled the kids out the door. Then we'd try again. No violence--and no rewarding bad behavior. Oh--and wet wipes are cheap & ubiquitous. It's beyond lame if you can't take 10 seconds to degrime a kid's hands and face before taking her into a store.It would not have occurred to my kids to grab and throw produce, much less run into people. (Did your mentor pay for the bruised apples? Somehow I doubt it.) If my kids threw the toys I brought for them, I kept them. How long do you think it took for them to learn not to throw their toys? Not. Rocket. Science.Another revelation: none of mine disrupted diners (except me if I had to take them outside) in a restaurant, and they were never dragged along as infants or toddlers to ruin movies for paid adults. If I couldn't afford a sitter, I didn't go. I am not Wonder Mother or anything special, which is the point--MOST people care enough to not let their kids do the things you seem to think are inevitable. I was as tired & stressed as anyone. I was over 30 when I had 2 kids within 16 months. As that was my choice, I did not use exhaustion or the "infant and a toddler" excuse to let them behave like spoiled hooligans.My oldest is an engineering student and decent, fun, and well-liked. My second works, takes classes, and is also fun, thoughtful, and a pleasure. My "baby" is doing well in school. I wonder where the apple-throwing, grimy, screaming brat is now. Probably making life miserable--for a spouse, coworkers, or her parents, as she likely takes them for granted and still expects to get everything she wants.

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Jason Bailey 5 years, 6 months ago

Addition to previous post: Before I get lamblasted...I have 3 kids of my own and frequently have strangers approach my wife and I in public to compliment us on our kids' good behavior. This stuff is not rocket science but apparently selfishness is more important with today's parents than raising well-rounded kids.

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Jason Bailey 5 years, 6 months ago

I will bet that Meghan is a part of Gen X as am I. It's my opinion based on observations that most of my generation have no clue how to parent properly. My generation does not understand that setting the rules early in a child's life and consistently enforcing those rules when they're tested will make life MUCH more enjoyable later.Our generation are a bunch of "ad hoc" parents who treat every situation and whiny, bad apple moment (as the writer puts it) as unique. We have no consistency in how we deal with behavior and thus, our kids have no idea how their parents will respond until they test them each and every day. That's why the kids are acting this way.Wake up and set the rules, enforce them each and every time and give me a break about the "being tired" thing. We all are. There is something much more important at stake than your selfish "I'm tired" attitude.

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number3of5 5 years, 6 months ago

I am the mother of five and never did they act like this in the grocery store. A swat on the bottom and placed in a cart and made sit down works every time. As for being tired, quit your job, down size your priorities and make motherhood number one on your list. If you choose to bring children into this world, be prepared to sacrifice for them and teach them to behave.

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Yabut 5 years, 6 months ago

Yeah, what's a few bad apples? How about someone (either the store or, ultimately, the shoppers because the price will be raised) having to absorb the cost of the damage your brat caused because you were too lazy or 'too tired' to parent. Seriously -- you let your kid destroy someone else's property, and just look the other way? This is what's wrong with America today.

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