Parents behaving badly

We’ve gone through a rough patch over the last few weeks where the lils have been behaving very badly at times, behaviour that escalates as they feed off each other, and ignore our efforts to rein them in.  I know that summer is coming and that they are more than ready after their extra month of school this year, so I have been trying to cut them some slack, while still letting them know that we expect that they will be polite and respectful to their parents, teachers, friends, and those around them.  Still, it`s hard when you are four and six, but they are trying.

One of the things that I have noticed of late is that my lils are not the only ones who are having a hard time behaving as we ease into summer.  Oddly enough, it isn’t the other children who catch my attention, it’s their parents.  Parents like the father at the Zoo who walked away from his child to swear right in front of my children – repeatedly – despite my polite request that he not swear in front of my lils, or the mom at the museum who watched us talking to our child about the importance of moving off an exhibit and letting the other children use it, but felt it necessary to interrupt me to say “will you just get him off it so my kids can use it?” These and other experiences have made me shake my head and wonder what they were thinking, but nothing has upset me quite as much as the two fathers who were sitting beside me at soccer last week.

The lils’ soccer classes follow each other on Thursday evenings, so Goose and I were sitting on the grass watching Woo’s lesson when it happened.  His class was warming up, and the leaders had them playing a game of freeze tag. It was pretty chaotic, but the lils on the field were all having a good time, when I noticed the conversation of the two men sitting right beside me.  They were being extremely critical of one of the children on the field, making snarky remarks about how he ran, who he tagged… I shook my head, thinking that I was wrong or that I misunderstood, but they continued, and made several more comments which made his identity clear.  I wanted to say something, but I had Goose with me and didn’t want to get angry. I also didn’t want to call her attention to what they were saying.  Then they started talking about whether he had a disability, or if something was “wrong” with him, and I knew I had to leave.

I walked away and took Goose to the play structure.  I was mad at myself for not saying anything to them, but they were being jerks and I knew it would end badly.  Mostly I was mad at them.  These are six year olds.  All of them, their sons included, were having fun.  They were playing a game.  Why do these parents even care how any of them play it?  Why do they think that they have the right to say what they were saying, out loud, ever? The only thing that was “wrong” on this particular field was the two men beside me.

Four days later, my heart still races when I think about this.  In hindsight, I should have said something, but the moment had passed by the time I was calm enough not to just tell them off.  If it ever happens again, I will be prepared. Sad that I have to think about what I would say, but sometimes the old, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” isn’t enough.

Category: life, Lils, Parenting | 3 comments

  • Chantal says:

    omg that is horrible! What are they thinking (or not thinking). Sheesh!

  • Sasha says:

    But had you said anything, do you think it would have changed anything? Or, as you said, just escalated things? I mean, they were behaving like jerks, you may have managed to shame them into being less jerky (one would hope) but it could also have just gotten messier. There were basically two options, in the absence of do-overs (the kind that require time travel), who’s to say you didn’t pick the best one?

    I know what you mean, though, I’d be haunted by “wish-I’d-saids” for a long time after that. (And probably a few wish-I’d-sluggeds, too).

  • Finola says:

    And we wonder why there are still bullies in schools. Shameful.

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