Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Those Parents

Have you ever been somewhere public and there is a crying (make that a screeching) kid in the vicinity, but you see no signs of any harried parental units? And this is not at the library or at a museum where everyone, including agitated toddlers, is expected to remain silent, but it is in a public place where at least someone should be making an effort to comfort the inconsolable child by removing him/her from the situation…but nothing.

Have you been a person who is appalled by the apparent apathy of that parent? Do you know someone who fits the description of that unconcerned parent? Have you been that parent?

I issue the preemptive disclaimer that because I know my child, I have maybe once (thrice or more times) been that parent. My child recently had an epic meltdown at my parents’ house and I am sure that my parents, my brother, the neighbors, and the construction workers who were repaving the sidewalk down the street were wondering what kind of horrific torture was this child enduring. And I just let her scream, yank on my leg, and even watched her throw her little body to the ground. She just needed a nap.

I have also been that red-faced parent who has fled the room with a child on the verge of a nuclear meltdown. In those instances, the circumstances called for her immediate removal or risk the public shaming that comes from not heeding the warning signs of pending disaster. Like last week when we left the Kennedy Center during a performance. I had anticipated that our evening might end earlier than planned, and the beginning of the end came when the Babe decided to produce a load as soon as we sat down at our seats. Luckily, we were seated in the mezzanine section at my request, specifically to hasten our departure with minimal interruption to the rest of the audience. This happened mere minutes after I had schlepped across town and found a parking space; after I read the sign at the entrance of the lobby that indicated the play was for mature audiences only; and after we had left the inaccessible bathroom with no changing table. Despite the diaper change it became clear that the Babe had no intention of sitting still for even a few moments, so I did a quick scoop of our belongings, waved goodbye to the friend seated next to us, and literally exited stage left.

I have been guilty of over-estimating my child’s attention span, like in September when we were kindly escorted from the IMAX Theater at the Air & Space Museum. Right before our expulsion, the manager announced that any patrons with children in the audience who could not keep it down would be asked to leave and given a refund. The Babe had just sat through the first film with minimal agitation, so I gambled that she could make it through the second film and lost. But I was a good sport about getting kicked out since I got my six bucks back and there was a McDonald’s on the premises!

I usually know better than to venture into certain situations because I am the rational parent…so you already know that this my mea culpa about how I made the most egregious mistake of abandoning my common sense by listening to the husband. I let him convince me to take our child with us to a cocktail party, and though I had an exit strategy in mind, it was still, in a word, STUPID.

I will skip ahead to the conclusion—there was no meltdown. But let’s just say that we will forever be known anecdotally as those parents who brought their 18 month old to an adult cocktail party. The Babe was reasonably well-behaved for an 18 month old at an adult cocktail party. And while the hosts were gracious enough to have given the husband the thumbs up in advance to bring her, it was evident as soon as we arrived that I should have faked an illness so that we couldn’t leave the car. Because she was the only 18 month-old at the adult cocktail party.

If you are reading this and thinking to yourself, I would never be that parent…well maybe you would not be that parent on that particular day. But I know you have been that parent under other circumstances (unless you have no children, in which case, I hate you). I was that parent who chose to skip Homecoming (again) this year and I’m still a little salty even though I know that I made the right decision. I am becoming that parent who realizes that this child-rearing thing involves a lot of trial and error, and it is alright if there are more than a few harmless errors. Like how it might be okay to take the kid to an R-rated movie during the day at the Mommy Matinee; but probably not such a good idea on a Friday night.

We live and we learn. Although I’m still not convinced that the cheap diapers are equal in quality to the more expensive ones...

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