We’ll be taking back that award now…

I avoid baby stores like the plague, for they are full of my least favorite things: parents.

Babies have excuses for socially unacceptable behavior. Parents? Not so much.

Example from a recent trip, taken under duress and only because there simply isn’t any way to get a few necessary baby items if one goes to a regular store (by few, I mean one; and by necessary I mean newborn head support for Hazelnut’s car seat. The organic cheese puffs were not the reason for the trip, so don’t judge me. Okay, they were a secondary reason, but the baby superawfulstore is closer than a natural food store. And the head support. I’m trying to support my infant’s head, people. And they are grilled cheese puffs, made with natural chemicals and organic empty calories to taste like crunchy grilled cheese.)

Anyway.

Dad and Mom are shopping with one year old child. Mom is carrying her, but hands her to Dad as she investigates all the useless and lame sippy cup technology available at the baby superawfulstore.

Child wants to hold Dad’s glasses. He gives them to her. She shakes them. Then drops or throws them. He says:

“No. Don’t do that. That is being a bad girl. Do not throw Daddy’s glasses. I do not want you to do that. That is being very, very bad. No, I will not hug you. You do not get hugs when you are very bad. Bad girl.” Her lip is out; she’s sad and trying to hug him. He puts his glasses back on and walks away before I hear whether she cries.

Ladies and gentlemen of the Academy, I want to give this man a parenting award. He didn’t hit her for dropping or throwing the glasses, and in so doing, allowed her exactly one chance to express a totally normal scientific impulse: experimentation with gravity. She needed to see what happened to the glasses if they dropped. Sure he withheld love and told her that she was a flawed person for disobeying instructions he thought but never expressed aloud; but he didn’t beat her as most of the parents in the superawfulstore tend to. And that generous restraint is why she will grow up with stupendous self esteem and be willing to stand up for what’s right in the world. Ladies and gentlemen of the Academy, this man is a Nobel Peace Prize waiting to happen. He’s preventing future wars and genocide by teaching love, patience, and respect.

And if they don’t give him an award, they are very, very bad and he won’t hug them even if they cry. A guy’s gotta put his foot down, after all, with a parenting award committee that’s totally new to this planet and its rules.

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13 thoughts on “We’ll be taking back that award now…

  1. Is that sarcasm? I am being genuine in my question because I really can’t tell if you think he is a dick or a great Dad. If I had to venture a guess I would say dick but my brain isn’t turned on right now. :)

  2. Yesterday in the grocery store we witnessed some of that same kind fabulous parenting. A little boy was in the cart screaming (I couldn’t tell about what since he was absolutely beside himself) for his mom to listen to him, and mom with grandma at her side just ignored him. It was absolutely excruciating to listen to, so much so that strangers in the store were coming to try to comfort him. What made it just a little worse was that the checker said they are regulars and come in with him like that most of the time…

  3. Telling children that they are bad is almost the same as hitting them in my book because it sends the same message. When will people learn that telling babies and children (or even adults for that matter) they are bad doesn’t help them to become “good”?

  4. Jen, it’s way beyond sarcasm. I was horrified for the girl, because she was way too little to understand, and when she heard that he was mad she tried to hug him and he refused.
    Brittany, I understand sometimes needing, after a long series of tries where nothing is working, to ignore for a minute so you don’t lose it. But not in public. Talk to him while you bring him to the car, put him in, close the door and take a deep breath. Or six. Then try something different. I can’t believe the checker said it happens all the time.
    Organic, I firmly believe this is why we have wars and hatred and girls with eating disorders—telling a child what and who they are instead of offering them age appropriate alternatives. But a big part of our society (and others) still believes in “my way or the highway” and “good or bad” and “punish by withholding love.” With a one-year old? Don’t give them anything you don’t want tossed to the floor. Pretty easy. I was so sad for her and what she’ll think of herself and others when she grows up.

  5. I hate hearing stories like that. Not like I’m the best mom ever, but I’m not just flat out stupid. That nasty dad should be told HE is very, very bad and made to attend probationary parenting classes.

  6. Let me run this by you — I tell my 4-year-old that an action was bad, not that he was bad. (This is when I’m rational, of course.) I say “hitting is bad; we don’t hit.” But I’ve never said (even in my worst moments) “You’re a bad boy.” There have been plenty of times when I’ve wanted to go there, but I’ve, mercifully, refrained.

    But most of the time I say, “That’s not okay,” if he’s done something I think is bad. Thoughts?

  7. It’s so hard NOT to judge some parents.
    He gave his glasses to a one-year-old. What did he think would happen? At least, she didn’t throw them or hit him on the head with them.
    This is why we NEED manditory parenting classes. Honestly.

  8. Fie, that is the way I was raised: I always knew that my actions could be good or bad but that it didn’t affect who I was as a person or my parents’ love for me. I gave me healthy self esteem *and* let me see that most people are good but they sometimes do nasty things.

    As a mother I prefer to avoid the words good and bad, not because they establish a black and white world where there is mostly grey, but because it has small people always looking over their shoulder for praise or punishment. I prefer to teach the little Superego in them to let them feel proud when they’ve made someone else or themselves happy, and to feel uneasy when their actions make someone else angry, hurt, sad, or scared. I want to create an internal gauge, not an external set of judging eyes. But that might be out of touch with reality, since creating a social being means making sure they know it’s important what the judgers say.

    At 18 months, Peanut hit. A lot. I was very clear. “I don’t like hitting. I love you. I do not love hitting.” He said, after hitting me once, “Mommy no like hitting. Mommy like Peanut.” I considered the emotional project a success. He kept hitting for almost a year, though, until his words were good enough to negotiate with other kids.

    Anyway, I think calling actions bad is well within a parent’s right to create boundaries. Made me want to cry when he called *her* bad, though.

    Kate and Kitch and Organic and Fae: the only way Ii could post it was with some humor because it made me so sad. Most of the world is raised that way. And though I joked, a lot would have been hit, too. [shudder]

  9. When I encounter parents like that I have to use all my internal resources not to walk up to them and say something. It is so horrifying. I completely agree with you about terrible parenting being the root of most of humanity’s failings.

    I once saw a man at the beach forcing his terrified toddler to stand in the waves. I walked right up to him, standing maybe three feet away, and just stared at him until he got embarrassed and took his poor, screaming, hysterical kid back up to dry land.

    Grar.

  10. Dana, I’m with you on sticking my nose in. I have to glare (and did with this guy, but he didn’t notice) and wish I had the guts too step in. The terrified child thing is especially hard because those cries break my heart and physiologically make me need to help. I’m glad you got beach-hole to stop. You’re a good lady, lady.

  11. Maybe it’s just because I’m holding my sweet one-year-old right now, but this story actually made me weep a little.

    Organic Mother with Cool Whip said it beautifully: “When will people learn that telling babies and children (or even adults for that matter) they are bad doesn’t help them to become ‘good’?”

    Jane Nelson, author of “Positive Discipline,” puts it this way: “Wherever did we get the crazy idea that in order to make kids do better we must first make them feel worse?”

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