There Are No Bad Parents, Only Bad People

A new year, a new you. I mean a new you, not a new me. My new year has started incredibly similarly to how my year ended: with me enraged over minutia. It’s almost as though the ticking of the clock from 2015 to 2016 is an arbitrary delineation created by humanity that doesn’t actually indicate a new start to anything other than a Roman calendar change. In case you’re wondering if I still traffic in the bizarre in 2016, I spent the first night of the new year in a dingy hotel room in Fresno watching three-year-old Japanese wrestling.

I traveled a lot over the last two weeks and attended many group activities putting me into contact with a large swath of humanity and, more germane to the conversation, with parents of young children. This has given me a wide swath of experience with different styles of parenting. I am not a parent, and thus far, not qualified to comment on anyone’s parenting style.

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However, I have logged over 36 years of being a human and I think I’ve interacted with enough diverse people and logged enough experience to judge people as successful humans. In my experience, a successful person is one who is aware that they are not alone on this spinning orb and take care and consciousness of the other people sharing this space. I’m not saying you have to make the right decisions all the time, just be aware. There are some things that are so basic to being a human being that if a person fails to acknowledge them–not even do them, know about them–or correct those who breach basic human empathy, like for example, teach a child the basic tenants of being a human, that person has failed being a human. That’s a bad person. Not evil, just bad, broken, missing a part, like whoever assembled that person didn’t follow the directions and threw out the allen wrench before assembling the particle board of that person.

If your child does not cover their mouth when they cough and you do not correct them, you are a bad person. Again, I don’t know thing one about raising a responsible citizen or better, a successful sociopath, but just as a citizen of the world forced to interact with other people, I know that if my coworker was in a meeting with and open mouthed hocked a diseased loogie on the middle of the conference table on the meeting notes of a client, I would gently suggest that civilized people cover their mouth when they cough. If I’m going for bonus points as a responsible citizen in the game of life, I would tell that coworker to cough into the crook of their elbow and not their hands that touch things. When you’re sick, aren’t you terrified of getting others sick? Don’t you feel awful if you make others feel awful?

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Then who are these nihilists that allow their children to openly cough in a supermarket?

It wasn’t even that benign. I was subjected to a mother whose children, snot streaming out of their noses (there was two of them) were wiping active snot on the grocery carousel coughing on my produce. Hacking disease particulates in my direction and the direction of things I will be putting in my mouth. I quizzically shrugged at the mother who actively weaponized her disdain for my concerns by dismissively waving her hand at me. I looked at the cashier who gave me a look like this was routine to her. What is this world we live in? Of course, I burned that supermarket to the ground and sprayed the children with Nyquil and lice powder (I assume they also had lice).

But what do I know, I failed at humaning in my travels and will relay that story very soon.

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  1. Parenting is such a diverse subject, depending on the person and how they were parented. Some things are important to a parent, some are not. With only one child, a parent can be totally focused, make all the necessary corrections and discipline, etc. Then add another child, then another, and all the ideals of being an excellent parent become strained. Sorry for your bad experience.

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  2. abeerfortheshower January 11, 2016 — 11:35 am

    This is why I have no desire to have kids. Instead of telling them to not snot all over the place, and clean up said snot, I can just avoid it all and live a snot-free lifestyle. And not have to burn my house down and disinfect the ashes after each ‘episode.’

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  3. I thank the Old Gods and the New that I don’t have ankle or knee biters in my home. I would have to put them each in one of those hamster balls for the rest of their lives or until they turned 18. Whichever comes first. I’m not a bad parent, I’m just that way. Don’t judge me!

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  4. If we’re going to base the definition of a “successful human” as someone who is aware they aren’t alone on this planet, I can safely say I run into more than a few unsuccessful ones in a daily basis.

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  5. Hmmmm. When my daughter was in elementary school, they did all that group learning crap that I think they still do even though it’s obvious it doesn’t work. She was always punished for her good behavior by being forced to sit next to a kid who was obnoxious. When she was in the second grade, she had to sit next to a boy who almost always wore a dark blue sweatshirt. I noticed that the right arm of said dark blue sweatshirt had something sticky looking on it. It was snot. He constantly turned his darling little head to the side to wipe his nose on his sleeve. The kids got moved around from time to time, so she had to sit next to every obnoxious child in the class–which was all of them–sooner or later. Finally, I told the teacher that my daughter couldn’t take it anymore. The teacher was a good person who tried very hard to be a great teacher. She let my daughter sit by herself. Most of the evil teaching wretches wouldn’t do that. I tried to be a good parent. I taught my children about the beauty of the Kleenex box and washing their hands. I know now that in spite of my efforts, I was pretty much a failure as a parent.

    Love,
    Janie

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    • If you were in a position where, your child was openly hacking on another person’s produce, and the person(s) in front of you gave you a look like, “come on, I’m going to eat those things, can you please tell your filth monkey to cough in the crook of her arm,” would you return that meaningful gaze with absolute dismissive disdain? Or, would you have general human empathy and at the very least ask your diseased child to turn her head to the side, away from things peopler were going to put into their mouth? Again, no bad parents.

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  6. My Rare One (who is retired) used to babysit a friend’s grand-baby from time to time as a favour (and for free, too, so she got asked a lot). But then MRO would catch every damn cold and flu the brat had and, even worse, pass it on to me who would end up missing work from being sick. I started to refer to the kid as “Typhoid [insert baby’s name here]” as a somewhat pointed joke just between MRO and me. Then MRO made the mistake of telling the kid’s mom about the nickname, thinking she’d find it humorous too. SHE DID NOT. But the upside is that MRO was asked to babysit MUCH less, which was fine with me. Kids are just goddamn little germ sacs.

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  7. UGHHHHH I just can’t with the grocery store description. Just can’t. Children are icky.

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  8. Thank you. 100% agreed. If parents get huffy about non-parents being critical about their parenting, it is called being a concerned global citizen. I WILL ask a kid to cover their mouth if their parent doesn’t seem to care/notice, because it takes a village.

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  9. Kidless here. Besides turning into adults that do the same thing, they also handle money. They take a wad of bills out of their shoe or cleavage, slurp their fingers, proceed to count out their cash, and hand the soggy cash to you. Then it’s a trip to the delousing station to get rid of the sweat, spit,and staph infection.

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