A few things happened this week to inspire this column.
First, my friend Sue and I took our boys to their elementary school’s mother and son bowling night. It was great fun, but man—some people’s kids are hooligans.
Sue and I spent a good part of the evening asking other people’s children to put down our bowling balls, dance somewhere other than the lane we’re bowling in and have their fights somewhere else. The crazy thing is that the kids’ moms were right there, watching. Sue and I kept giving each other wide-eyed looks and mouthing things like, “You have GOT to be kidding me!”
Next, I took my son to the library yesterday to get some new reading material. We were browsing the aisles when I noticed a toddler, presumably all alone, pulling every single book off the shelves on a particular row. She ran down the carpeted aisle, arm spread rigidly to the side, raking the books off the shelves and into the floor while cackling with glee.
I said, “No, honey! Stop! That’s a bad thing to do!” Then she gave me the ol’ puppy dog eyes and ran to a woman who was sitting in a nearby chair on a laptop. This woman couldn’t possibly be her mother, right? I mean, she glanced up and saw me admonish the little girl and never said a word. The little girl ran to the woman and grabbed her leg. The woman didn’t look up from her computer and pushed the little girl away, telling her, “Go play.”
My eyes nearly fell out of my head.
Later as Jack and I were checking out our pile of good books, we saw the little girl again. She had one of those plastic display cases that hold library event calendars and pamphlets. She was walking around throwing handfuls of crumpled pamphlets in the air. I glanced at her mother, and the woman never looked up. I also noticed that the books were still in the floor a few aisles over. I took the pamphlets away from the little girl, placed them on a high shelf, gathered my book bag and Jack, and on my way out stopped by the librarian’s desk to give her a head’s up.
In both of these cases the errant children’s mothers saw another parent step in. And, in neither case did the parents do anything about it. I wish they would. If your child is so wild and crazy that a stranger has to ask them to chill, it’s time for you to lay down the law. For bonus points, you could even apologize to the parent who had to intervene.
I’d like to say this is the first time I’ve witnessed anything like this, but in my nearly thirteen years of parenting I have seen some bad stuff, y’all. I started thinking about the things other moms do that bother me the most, and I compiled a little list of the top three things I wish other moms would do.
1. Buckle Up Your Children
Nothing, absolutely nothing, riles me like seeing children walking around or standing up in a moving vehicle. If you’re not going to be responsible and follow the guidelines for car seats and boosters and backseat-is-best, then at least give ‘em a fighting chance by putting a seatbelt across them. I just can’t wrap my head around the stupidity of a parent who drives down a highway with an unsecured child in the car. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. You better hope I don’t see you, because I call that offense in regularly.
2. Keep Sick Kids At Home
Do not send your child to school or after-school activities when he or she is sick with a contagious illness. Twenty-four hours fever-free, people! Twenty-four hours vomit-free! I know it’s hard sometimes, but please be decent and spare our kids.
3. Discipline, Don't Avoid
If you notice another parent having to reprimand your child, GET ON IT. Correct the child yourself. And maybe, just maybe, teach the child manners and humility and have them apologize to the people they disturbed.
That’s my list. Being a bit curmudgeonly, there are a lot more things that bother me, but those are my top three wishes. What are yours?
Do you have things you wish other moms would do? Please share ‘em!