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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Peter Griffin/Homer Simpson School of Parenting

It always cracks me up - in a sad, sad way, of course - when I see inattentive parents. Not 'cause I think putting your kids in danger is funny, but because I'm in awe at how karma and fate and whatever/whoever else allowed certain people to procreate, when they shouldn't be allowed to eat fresh food.

A co-worker and I were just on Miami's Metro Mover (free downtown elevated trolley) on our way to grab a bite to eat, and we saw a disturbing sight. A little boy - maybe 4- or 5-years-old - was leaning up against the train's doors, pounding on 'em. Knowing how herky jerky those doors can be I whispered my concern to my colleague, who decided to tell the boy to move away from the doors.

It was an admirable gesture, and one I'm not even sure I was willing to make, 'cause I've seen triflin' parents react viciously to other adults saying anything to their kids that even remotely resembles an admonition. And some folks are bananas. They want to fight you for trying to be helpful. I was with my mom once in a department store and there was a woman beating her kid like he owed her money. Come to think of it maybe he did. Kidding. But seriously, she was knocking him around like a piñata. Well, I can assure you my mom had no problem with corporal punishment. I got my share of spankings for my smart mouth, among other things. But without getting into the whole argument about whether or not kids should ever be spanked, right, wrong, etc., anyone with one eye and half a brain knows there's a difference in spanking a kid and beating a kid. And this woman in the store had gotten carried away. Who knows? Maybe she always got carried away. So on this one occasion, my mom put her hand on the woman's arm and gently suggested that maybe she should take a deep breath and restrain herself. There were all sorts of things to consider - getting arrested, having child protective services called, seriously injuring the kid. Instead of calming down, the woman jumped up, cursed at my mom for interfering, and asked my mom if she wanted a piece.

So back to the trolley. My colleague tried to get the kid's attention. The boy didn't listen. So my colleague called over to the mother "Ma'am, that's kind of dangerous - him leaning on the doors like that. He could fall out when they fly open at stops. You might want to call him away from the door."

The mom, who was on her cell phone, shot daggers at my colleague for interrupting her chat, said something snide into the phone about the interruption, and ignored it all. She didn't say one word to the kid.

An elderly woman standing next to us shrugged and said "At least you tried. I wanted to say something too, but..."

We got off the trolley before mother and child. Hopefully he didn't fall out when they reached their stop. And hopefully, mom won't accidentally grind broken glass into his food tonight, or absentmindedly hand him powdered bleach instead of sugar to sprinkle on his cereal in the morning.

6 Comments:

  • On a similar note, I've taken to doing some of the things kids sometimes do that their parents ignore, ie, in your story I would have started banging on the door. I have screamed while waiting in line at Publix, and even ran around a table in a fairly nice restaurant in the Gables. When the parents inevitably realize what the @#&^* I'm doing and how disruptive it is, they're quick to take control of their own kid.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:00 PM  

  • I would have said something. I would have gotten the daggers. I would have blogged about it. Funny how rational, responsible people tend to think alike when it comes to, oh I don't know... CHILD SAFETY AND COMMON SENSE! Sheesh, people are clueless sometimes. I'm glad you & your colleague tried to help. You tried. Good job.

    By Blogger Melissa, at 8:06 PM  

  • You know, James, all things considered, I think the Human Race continues to exist despite, rather than because.

    & as for Common Sense, Melissa - unfortunately it just ain't common any more. Population Density is on the increase & most of that density is between the ears of the members of aforementioned population!

    Still, I'm VERY glad to see that there are still some sensible people out there!

    By Anonymous Bronchitikat, at 8:50 AM  

  • I applaud your friend, at least he tried. Nothing worse than seeing humanity's decline right before your eyes...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:10 PM  

  • That is when you grab the kid and say "stop it" and push him back to his mother. I don't go after the mother because she obviously doesn't know what to do. She needs guidance, so you show her how it's done. If he cries, let him--that's what he would have done w/ his mother anyway. She gets beef? Tell her she can let him do that in another car, but not yours. See if she moves...

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 4:39 PM  

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    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:26 PM  

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