Thursday, July 5, 2012

I Am A Firework


Apparently my kids don't like fireworks. Late last night the Old Forge Fourth of July fireworks my two kids decided that they don't like fireworks. Well - my son was sat on his aunt's lap and as soon as the first couple went off he covered his ears and wobbled over to his mother for protection. My daughter was a little less subtle. The first three or four "fireworks" went off. I say fireworks - for all intensive purposes they were just incredibly loud explosions. There was practically no visual aspect to them at all. Also the first went off - then 90 seconds later the next one went off. This pattern continued for about five or six minutes. This is pretty much the reason my wife and I don't understand the fervor around most firework displays - they're almost all based around going bang without looking nice at all. You can get much the same affect by closing your eyes and having someone fire a gun repeatedly into the air.

After about the fifth or sixth ridiculously loud bang my daughter then loudly repeated - with her hands clenched over her ears - that we had to leave immediately. She then just started nervously ranting that she wanted to go home. She got quite hysterical quite quickly so she was whisked away by a relative while her mother grabbed her son and I grabbed our stuff. It certainly must have looked curious to see the only person seemingly in the entire town not in Stars and Stripes clothing carrying a child through the massively crowded streets as she screamed, "HAVE TO RUN AWAY!!!" while I responded in a calm English accent, "it's all going to be okay soon." She even tried to wriggle free a few times and leg it on foot like a frightened dog. Still - at the very least I got to make a decent joke/half-wish as I was hurriedly packing up our stuff to leave. The person next to us - already clearly irritated from being rudely treated by my niece, said, "they don't like fireworks huh?" To which I replied, "Nah - we're English. Not really our thing today." So there is just the tiny chance that my kids do like fireworks but hate Freedom.

Speaking of the people next to me - I had to apologize to them for someone else's behavior. I cannot clarify with enough weight how fucking enraged I get by horrible kids and their useless parents. I wont go off on one (not too much anyway). But suffice to say that when a three year old girl chucks a toy repeatedly into a crowd of strangers and then rudely yells at them, "give it back..." without any kind of rebuke from anyone, that pisses me off. Especially as it's clear to everyone that the kid's behavior is annoying enough for someone to mention to the father of said child that she's bothering someone - and their response is (and it always is) that, "she's just playing." Well no - she's being a rude, whiny bitch. Anyhoo - after she yelled at these people, and then fell into them when having a tantrum about not having popcorn, I apologized. We all then got to witness that weak thing where the parent feebly says something kind of parent-like (in this case weakly asking the child to please listen) - even though it's clear the kid can't even hear them, the kid won't listen and the parent has absolutely no intention of making an effort to be heard, let alone to do anything.

I hate lazy parents. I was a naturally lazy person so I understand what laziness is. I could expend all kinds of energy - going completely out of my way - to not do something. I get it. But once you have kids - tough shit. You want it not to change your social life? Tough shit. You want to keep doing all the things you did before? Tough shit. It's not bad - it's just how it is. Cup final is on but your kids need you to do something else? Then you do something else. You usually get drunk from Thursday to Sunday nights? Well stop being such a child and grow up - you have kids to be sober for now. I am massively selfish and enjoyed my own private time a lot before I had kids. Now I have none of my own time - and that's okay. I don't even care. Sure I need thirty minutes here and there to loosen up and unclench. But that corny statement of, "my kids are my life" really means that all of your time and energy is now for someone else - and you don't even mind.

A lazy thing I see a lot would be when parents - who almost seem to think it's okay that their kids break rules as long as other people heard them being told not to do so. So the message isn't important for the kids - just for onlookers to make a mental note that, "well - she did technically tell them not to do that." As in I watched a mother at a playground last week loudly telling her group of kids that they will not run around with their lollipops in their mouths. All of whom were doing so. She just sat on her bench prodding at her iPhone. Randomly she would yell that they weren't to do something that they were doing - and they continued to do so afterwards. Then one of the kids came over to her to grab another lollipop. She seemed to remember she was the parent and - still looking at her phone - gruffly told the kid that he is not allowed to run with it in his mouth. Obviously he unwrapped it, stuck it in his gob and then climbed up the outside of the tube-slide that he and his siblings had been weakly told they were not allowed to climb on. Not to worry though - her job of making sure other parent's heard her half-arsed commands was completed. If they hurt themselves now then that's their own fault.

And why wouldn't that kid ignore her? Clearly all the posturing commands given by their mother meant absolutely nothing. Why bother saying anything? Either you mean it or you don't. Because if you don't mean it then you're basically operating like an insurance company - removing responsibility from you over to someone else. "I told that boy fifty times not to do that and then he broke his leg. What am I supposed to do?" Don't. Let. The. Kid. Do. It.I am not a twunt and I don't lord it over my kids to be a dick with power. But if I or someone in charge of my kids tell them to do something they are going to listen  Not through fear of pain or terror. Because it's a parent-kid deal.

The laziest form of parenting is when actual responsibility for a child is completely shirked with the assumption that someone else will do it. I cannot count the number of times I've witnessed this particular parent brazenly shirk it - seemingly without any shame - and even go so far as to vocalize that someone else can do it because they just don't want to. That someone else usually being Grandma. Or more annoyingly - me. Pretty much it's any other adult around the children - at which point they'll take off to do whatever selfish thing they want to do that definitely doesn't involve kids. My favorite being arriving with kids - dumping them off and then fucking off to the bar until 4am. Not to worry though - when the kids wake up at 5am they just either ignore it until someone else sorts it out, or they'll literally pick the kid up - take it to antoher person's room - and then drop them there. I have actually witnessed in the wee hours of the morning this parent bring their awake, irritable child to the kitchen door - plonk them on the floor - and then sneak back off to bed - safe in the knowledge that some other dopey bastard will take care of it for them until they get up at around noon. A decent example of shirking responsibility being that their son constantly wanders off because nobody is paying any attention. I've pulled him out of the woods several times. And I've spotted him - by chance - three-quarters of the way up the driveway on his way to the main road. Not bad for a child not even two years old. I get the "it takes a village part." That's fine. But that equation still involves the actual parents giving a shit and making an effort.

The responsibility shirking part was perfectly displayed yesterday. My wife had told the father of the boy that he was in charge of his own kid outside as she was off to do something. The fact that she has to tell him this says it all in my mind - because it's clear to everyone that if any other adult is present then he's off the hook. That's the sort of mentality you get from someone who leaves his kids with relatives on his days off work so he can go dick around like a twelve year old. Anyhoo - on this occasion I was with my son out of sight - but outside as well. He didn't really know that though. So I witnessed my wife leave, then the father tell his kid (as in - he feebly passed off responsibility for anything bad that might happen to a baby) not to wander off - because that clearly works - and then went inside the house through a different door. I let it go as long as was safe  - sick of grabbing this kid out of bushes 500 feet from home - before watching this kid wander off down the side of the house into the woods ten feet from the lake. Which was where he was clearly headed. I'd had enough by this point so took him in the house to physically hand him to his father and tell him his kid was down by the dock - enough to prick the ears of Grandpa who will not have a rule as solid and timeless as No Kids Down By The Dock Without Parents Or Lifejackets violated under any circumstances. Typically when it became clear I was making a point the father announced to the room that it wasn't his responsibility - he had to make dessert. At which point even Grandpa asked, "in the basement...?" Which led to what it always leads to - an "aww shucks" glib smirk as he wandered off to not take care of his own kid.

But that's not the thing that really gets my goat. It's the behavior of their toxic little girl. I loathe my kids being around them and their shitty little child as it whines endlessly. Everyone knows another child they don't want their kids anywhere near. This one is mine. All it does is act rudely and whine. I'm sure it is using words - but most of them just seem to be a high-pitched nasal whining noise. But mostly I loathe my daughter being around this other little girl because when I tell my daughter not to do something that the other kid wants to do (like running off into the woods or stamping on something until it breaks) the other little kid angrily whines that not only am I ruining something, but then tells my daughter not to listen to me. I had no idea that a human being can repeat the phrase, "but I want to" that angrily, that often. I watch this little shit get asked to not do something (usually not to whine about not getting juice/crackers/to be the world's greatest princess) and then wander off to punch her little brother out of spite. Or punching her grandmother. Not as a constant-chosen target picked out of a crowd of people. But because Grandma has ended up picking up the dropped-ball so often that the kid doesn't even go to her own parents when they're around anymore - Grandma is responsible after all.

The last straw for me this visit came when this little girl was dragging my son by his arm away from the house we were at to go play somewhere else. All the other adults were in the house and I'd taken my two kids - now done with eating - outside to expend some energy. More so though to get away from the CONSTANT FUCKING WHINING of a child who was knocking on minute-thirty of the current hysteric tantrum of this particular bi-hourly screamathon. That opening line at the top of this entry is spot on - and disturbing in a child of three years of age that they don't even use words to scream. Which triggered off an innate idea in the other parent's head to kick their own kids out as well - then they won't have to keep an eye on them. I told my son not to go off with her and stick near the house where they are well aware they should stay. Nope - the girl kept dragging him off. Then I told the girl not to take my son. To which she angrily whined that she wanted to and tried to continue it. Then - as the only adult - I had to tell her firmly that not only was she not taking my son, she wasn't to go running off with her brother into the woods either. Her response was to try and hit me. Before she even finished with the back-swing I had leaned in to tell her sharply that she better not even be thinking of hitting anyone - and that I'm more than happy to drag her back to the house by her broken arms (obviously I didn't say that......) if she decides that she doesn't want to walk back there right away and shut up. Then I picked up my son, told her to go back home and walked off. Because I know more than anything the thing she doesn't want is to be ignored. I'm no detective, but the constant cries of, "LOOK AT!!" (as in "look at me") throughout the day are a clue to that. Frankly I deserve an award for mustering every moral conviction in my body not to stab the entire family to spare the entire world any more misery. 

But now we're home and even my own daughter has been asking about the whining and the rudeness. I did say that when she was younger she had some corking tantrums. And she still has some short-lived intense screaming fits. But that the fact this other girl never shuts the fuck up suggests that something else is wrong - but that hopefully it'll get better. Hopefully before the little boy gets hit by a car or drowns in the lake.

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