So, as formerly mentioned, we had a birthday party for Rocket last Saturday. He invited everybody from his class. That’s right. Everybody.
But, thank my lucky stars, only 10 came.
It was fun. I mean, I guess. As fun as a party can be with a bunch of people you hardly know.
And their fucking kids.
Dude. People. There are some seriously terrible children in the world. I think I’ve grown accustomed to my own offspring, and that of my friends, or haven’t had much access to the general population recently…or something. Whatever, there are some BAD kids and even worse parents out there. That’s all I know.
While speaking to one woman, I heard a commotion. I looked over and it was her 4-year-old son JUMPING on the decorations. He had ripped them off the table and was destroying them, just for funsies. I moved to stop him but remembered I was standing right next to his mother. I looked at her, waiting for her to handle it. She was laughing. I shit you not. LAUGHING. She even called him some pet name. Like he was funny and cute.
Not the adjectives that popped into my mind.
I stood there dumbfounded for a moment but as soon as she walked away I went over to the little hoodlum and took the decorations away from him, thinking “hey you little bastard, I’m poor. I reuse these things.” Plus, the landfills people. THE LANDFILLS.
I realize my kids are annoying (aren’t they ALL?), but as you know, I have a thing about manners. Plus, I’m so self-centered and egotistical I watch my kids like a damn hawk when we’re out in public, making sure they don’t violate generally agreed-upon social codes, thereby making me look bad. If I’m gonna look bad, I prefer to do it through my own poor decision-making, as opposed to the deviant behaviors of my offspring.
I have my standards, you know.
Here’s another one for ya: some awesome parenting. I debated forever, at least 45 seconds, about whether or not I should provide soda at the party. At first I thought “no, just water,” because kids will be there, and I shouldn’t be contributing to the ill-health of America’s youth. I envisioned hordes of kids running over to the ice chest, guzzling soda after soda, and then they all get rotten teeth and diabetes and I live in guilt for the rest of my life. But then I remembered “Janelle. People can parent their kids. Rocket knows he gets one soda on special occasions. Other parents are doing the same with their kids, so stop trying to control everybody.” Plus, maybe the adults want soda.
I mean, parents can parent their kids, right?
Yeah, I know. You’re already thinking it. I shoulda known better.
So I ended up buying a TON of water and a few small bottles (the mini ones) of soda. Most of the kids were handed soda instead of water but I was like “whatever. Rocket had one too.” But this one kindergartner comes back after finishing the first one in like 3 minutes and starts grabbing another one. I happen to be standing at the ice chest. I say “Oh, sorry buddy, each kid only gets one soda.” Yes, I fully made that up. But whatever. I thought the mother would appreciate it, so she didn’t have to be the one to tell him “no.”
He runs over to his mom and says with this horrendous whine “SHE says I can only have one.” Eye contact with the mom. Scowls from mom. I plaster my nice-girl smile and walk over, whispering to her “He can have another one, I just thought you probably wouldn’t want him having more than one, so I was trying to get you off the hook.”
And this woman looks me dead in the eye and says “Yeah, there’s no reason a kid should ever have more than one soda, but it’s easier than telling him ‘no.’”
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
I’m having an out-of-body experience. She gives him another one, and I die a little inside. I mean shit, I’ve been a horrible parent on more than one occasion, but if my offspring were demanding another damn soda and threw a fit about it when I said “no,” I would have one response: “If you continue throwing this fit we will leave the party now. I have no preference either way, so it’s your call, dude.” (And if they choose to leave, you get out of the party. SCORE.)
Problem freaking solved.
Oh, but friends. Neither of these kids (or mothers) had anything on a child we’ll heretofore refer to as Jane. No wait. Jane is too sweet. Let’s go with “Doris.” No idea where that came from, but I’m stickin’ with it.
Doris has needs. She NEEDS PEOPLE SHE NEEDS. When she first arrives she sees the helium tank and decides she wants to blow up balloons. But by this point the party has started. I put the tank away. First she tells Ava: “I want to blow up balloons. I’m getting the tank.” And she walks over and pulls it out of the box. Ava tells her “no, we’re not doing that now,” and puts it back in the box. At this point, Doris turns her sights on me.
Doris: “Rocket’s mom? I want to blow up a balloon.”
Me: “Sorry, honey, we’re done doing that. It isn’t a toy. I only had that out before the party.”
Doris: “But I want to blow up a balloon.”
Me: “Yes, I understand, but we’re not doing that right now.”
Doris: “Why not?”
Me: “Because I’m busy. I already told you. Why don’t you go play with the other kids on the play structure?”
Doris, scowling, raising her voice: “But I want to do the balloons and I want to do it right now!”
What I want to say is: “You’re a terrible child. Please go away.” But I don’t, because that would be wrong.
We go on like this for a good 5 minutes, while I’m trying to do whatever party nonsense I’m doing. Finally she leaves. Three minutes later the aforementioned conversation occurs again, VERBATIM.
And she comes up to me every 3 minutes the ENTIRE PARTY. “I want to paint my pot NOW.” “I want to put the dirt in my pot NOW.” “I want to blow up a balloon NOW.”
And each time I’m tripping out, thinking, “No really. You are the most annoying human specimen in the world. You must leave.”
I look for her parents for back-up. My eyes are begging “HELP ME.” They’re OBLIVIOUS. No idea their offspring is terrorizing an innocent human. No idea their kid is relentless.
They probably think it’s cute.
“I want to plant my seed. Where are the seeds? Why can’t we do the seeds? I wanna do the seeds! Rocket’s mom, I wanna do my seeds.”
It keeps popping into my head “Does this shit actually work for you at home?! My God, your parents’ lives must be miserable!”
Because to be honest, part of the reason my kids have decent manners is because I’m way too impatient to tolerate the alternative. I mean seriously, if my kid harangued me for 45 minutes about some event he thought he needed to happen…holy mother I’d lose my shit. Not only would I not do it when he wanted, I’d probably not do it EVER, just on principle, because he was so fucking annoying about it.
There’s nothing noble there. I just can’t take it. I mean, if I have a valid reason to be doing what I’m doing and not what you think I should be doing, you have no right to harass and harangue endlessly, hoping I’ll change my mind, or cave because I can’t take it anymore.
But then I started thinking about it and I realized that this sort of horrible kid behavior must, on some level, result in horrible adult behavior, which is way worse, since they don’t have the advantage of being cute and small, or the excuse of being five.
To illustrate, I made some flow-charts.
You know? That woman who just won’t take “no” for an answer? She just WILL NOT get the hint? You try to be subtle. She keeps on. You try a slightly less subtle approach. She still doesn’t get it.
And so, you give up. You just lay it out, “No, lady, I don’t wan’t to buy any of your fucking Avon. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not EVER. Did this work for you when you were five?”
Well yes, she responds. Yes it did.
DeeWednesday, 12 September, 2012 at 15:51
Damn, I wish I’d been at your party! Flow charts, heeee!
MarisaWednesday, 12 September, 2012 at 15:54
I heart your flow charts.
The parents of that child that they can’t say no too must be short sighted, clearly they haven’t foreseen the future like you have. They need your flow chart! It’s only going to get worse as they get older. I’m sure their teacher just loves them! I taught briefly before having my child. I would get a few students like this. I would remind them, when I say no I mean it, and if they continue to ask, that is only annoying me and doesn’t change my mind. It only makes me think I might want to send them outside for a time out.
The child who was wreaking the decorations, so not cool. To me that says, Rocket, I’m smashing your party, I’m a big jerk. Where’s the manners!!!
BrandonWednesday, 12 September, 2012 at 16:14
I realize more and more everyday that most parents don’t comprehend the job description. Your main goal is protecting your kids. Not just from outside danger and harm but also from turning into a total and utter d-bag/horrible person. It starts young folks.
Also do people think parenting is all about the path of least resistance?
Yes I’m sure you’re very progressive random dude. Just keep letting your kid do and have whatever he/she wants. You are probably totally best friends with your kid random lady. I’m sure you’ll be cheering them on when they hit the main stage for the first time too. Too far?
PennyWednesday, 12 September, 2012 at 19:10
If it helps any…. I loose my shit on the kids often. The rule in my house… “Be an annoying little brat and watch mommies head spin around.” They know, it never works to their advantage and rarely bother.
JessicaWednesday, 12 September, 2012 at 19:39
Omg. Well, at least your little man had a god time.
P.S. Can you post your thoughts on ” Free Range” parenting? I mean, the extreme kind where parents drop their 7 year old kids off at a park in NYC and leave.
I heard that this morning I thought “What would Janelle say?”
JessicaWednesday, 12 September, 2012 at 19:42
Good time, not god time :/
CandyWednesday, 12 September, 2012 at 21:12
I say all the time that whenever I think my kids are horrible, all I have to do is hang out with someone else’s for a while. Even when mine are being insane little monsters at home, they would never pull that shit in public. I think parents have forgotten that it is their job to raise people that the rest of us can stand being around. All you have to do is look at all the assholes around us to know that’s true.
Kate HogginsWednesday, 12 September, 2012 at 21:18
I so love your posts. We need to be PARENTS, people, not friends to our kids. I work in a library and when women LET their children HIT them in the library, I kinda get bristly and become the voice of the village, “We do not treat our mothers like that in the library.” I get lots of glare eyeballs, but some moms sigh with relief and understanding, grateful to get reinforcement from another member of the village. One can NEVER go wrong teaching manners. Thanks for listening. Keep up the good work mama.
KidLit aka Tracey!Wednesday, 12 September, 2012 at 23:00
Wow. Remind me to skip the next invite… just kidding. DAMN! I need to go to your parties so I can throw down with the hard stares and whisper “WTF?!?” behind their backs! Oh ya… and have cake. ;0)
LizaelhaThursday, 13 September, 2012 at 1:04
My kids tend to behave pretty angelic in public. Probably because they are taught manners at home (imagine that!). But their public behavior shouldn’t fool anyone. They have tons of tantrums AT HOME. And I take pleasure from the fact that, after the tantrum, when I ask them if they EVER get what they want by having a tantrum, they ALWAYS say no. So, on some level, this parenting thing is sinking in. I’m still waiting for them to become angelic creatures at home too, but maybe that’s too much to ask for…
On the subject of terrible parenting, do you have any thoughts about bed times? My almost 7 yr old daughter keeps getting calls from her friends at 5pm, wanting to have a play date, RIGHT THEN. I finally told one mother yesterday that at 5pm we are thinking about dinner and bed. She asked me what time my daughter goes to sleep. Between 7 and 7:30, I said, and she could not believe it! Her kid goes to bed after 9pm EVERY NIGHT. Is this an example of terrible parenting, or non-parenting?
MarisaFriday, 14 September, 2012 at 18:44
I am throwing my opinion out there about bed times. 9 is way too late. 7:30 is more appropriate. Children are growing, they need ample sleep to do so.
ArinWednesday, 9 March, 2016 at 12:31
Sounds great, but hugely impractical for many of us. I work till 5, and pick up the kids at 6 (a fairly short nyc commute). Throw together dinner, eat and check homework, and we are already well past 7. Then there are baths and playing dollies and actually spending a little time enjoying my kids. If they went to bed at 7:30, I’d never get to know them. I understand where you are coming from, but please realize that peoples milage may vary. Adulting is hard y’all.
ShanThursday, 13 September, 2012 at 1:09
I really have got to stop being on Facebook so much. I looked for the Like button no fewer than three times.
kimThursday, 13 September, 2012 at 6:48
The middle part of your flow charts could read: teen who ends up at Kim’s school.
PaigeThursday, 13 September, 2012 at 8:42
I know I’m not a parent but I have some damn good ones myself… when I was little, we were pretty poor, like me and my mom living in a one bedroom apartment together and I only had 2 pairs of shoes (and one pair was ONLY for church), poor. I didn’t just get my way because I asked over and over and over again. I think little Doris was just never told no. then again, I’m pretty sure some kids are 2/3 evil, not water.
Emma CaseboltThursday, 13 September, 2012 at 11:00
I love it! you have all the mental conversations I do. Except mine leak out once in a while. And I am always the parent that people remember for being there. I loved reading your statements. Single mother of two now 23 and 17; grandmother soon.
CorinneThursday, 13 September, 2012 at 13:00
Preach on sister…you write my thoughts!!!!
I hate being a hag when it is the job of another parent. Control your offspring!
CathThursday, 13 September, 2012 at 15:02
In defence of Doris, some kids just go through stages.
KristiThursday, 13 September, 2012 at 15:23
Holy hell, Janelle! Hearing about these type of kids gives me this bulldog-feeling (like I want to attack them and give ’em what for). You’re SO RIGHT! These kids are going to grow up to be hideous adults and lord knows we don’t need more of those in this world!
The only thing I would change is the little girl’s name from Doris to Veruca Salt (from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). As I read the dialog, I could just hear Veruca’s voice…
Veruca Salt: Hey, Daddy, *I* want an Oompa Loompa! I want you to get me an Oompa Loompa right away!
Mr. Salt: All right, Veruca, all right. I’ll get you one before the day is out.
Veruca Salt: [whining] I want an Oompa Loompa now!
Violet Beauregarde: Can it, you nit! <—- (don't we all want to say this?)
Jennifer @ Also Known As the WifeThursday, 13 September, 2012 at 17:50
It’s so incredibly reassuring to know there is someone else in this world that feels *exactly* like I do when it comes to kid, manners, and just how annoying other people’s kids actually are.
I could hug right now.
Kristi'smommaThursday, 13 September, 2012 at 23:38
Janelle…it is so refreshing to know there ARE parents out there who are teaching manners, proper social behavior, pleases, thank yous, etc, cause they aren’t showing up very often in school. Yes, I am insane to try to teach high school kids and think I can maintain my dignity for 30, no 20 no 10 minutes. Because I get to do a Home School program, I also get to meet the parents. Enough said? When I retire I am writing a book, it will NeVer be a best seller, but the title is good: Your Kids ARE Your Own Fault
You get stars in your crown for making sure Rocket invited all the kids in his class. You also get stars for just having a birthday party. OMG! you must write a book, or get on a TED talk. The world of parents need to read your stuff, or listen to your message. Wait.. those who read and listen don’t really need more advice on parenting, they are the ones who are getting things figured out early in the kiddos history so not too much damage is inflicted. It’s the other idiots out there who don’t have a clue! Is that too judgmental? okay, I have seen the resulting 14-18 year olds crash and burn because mommy thought they were so cute when they were little and causing vast amounts of pillaging, raping and looting on the innocent. It isn’t pretty. Then on a positive ending note, there are some real beautiful kids out there, and it is a pleasure getting to know them.
CherylFriday, 14 September, 2012 at 2:08
Dude! I love your blog! The more I read your stuff, the more I think we could be friends in real life! We took my daughter’s friend with us a couple of weeks ago on a spontaneous beach road trip, and I had repeat conversations with her over and over again. She asked no less than 50 times what beach we were going to, when we had already explained that we were going to stop whenever we found interesting places. I CANNOT STAND to repeat myself and my own kids know better. I couldn’t put the smack down on her like I would on my own kids, but I did overhear her saying to my daughter “wow, your mom is strict!” so apparently I made some sort of impact. I work with the adult products of horrible parenting, and I don’t feel bad at all for telling my kids no and making them behave, because I figure I’m doing them (and the world at large) a favor. I want kids that are a pleasure to be around and that grow into productive adults who are also nice to be around, I figure that’s only fair if you’re going to go ahead and reproduce. I love your flow charts, not enough people consider the consequences of letting their little monsters run rampant.
carlislesSaturday, 15 September, 2012 at 13:17
So. My friend brought her 19 month old son over. Let him pull all the expensive electronic shit off the shelves (and try to yank the controllers out of the Xbox) and then when he was bored with it, just set it on the floor where the four dogs and the cat were running around. And I would stare at her for a moment, and then get up and pick that shit up. Over and over.
I say all day that WILL NOT BE MY KID, and everyone who has kids say, oh, you can’t help it sometimes. But, you know, the moment my asshole child goes running through Walmart and almost trips somebody, I’m tripping her little ass. I just hope I’m not too mean. D:
And on the other side of the spectrum, my sister-in-law has a 2 year old stepson who I believe is EXTREMELY well-developed mentally for his age, just a little wild (uh, like his father, mother, AND stepmother. but they chew his ass for everything. If he shoots you with the Nerf gun right after everyone in the room has taken their turn holding him down and shooting him right in the face with it, he gets his ass whooped… My sister in law’s horrible bitch friend screamed in his face one night JUST FOR KICKS in front of the whole family, and when he started screaming back, my sister in law put him in time-out, THEN made him apologize, and her bitchfriend got right in his face and laughed. I think it’s sad.
Your blog gives me hope. That even if my child is demonspawn from a hell dimension, at least maybe I can get her to act like a functioning human child in public. (Not that I’m saying your children are demonspawn.)
Erica / Northwest Edible LifeSaturday, 15 September, 2012 at 22:57
You have just perfectly captured the problem with every party I’ve been to at Pump It Up. In case Pump It Up is a regional thing, allow me to describe. Everything is a primary color. A bright, eye-burning primary color. There is a gigantic auditorium filled with bouncy houses and the fans that keep them perpetually bouncy. Within 4 minutes everyone over 12 is having migraines from the fan oscillation. 5 year olds. Many, many 5 year olds. A few 3 year old siblings. Some of them do not have excellent bladder control when they bounce. A bodily fluids clean-up situation. A small “event room” with a long table in the center. 5 and 6 year olds clambering all over the table to get another slice of FD&C427 blue dyed Nemo cake. A BLOW UP THRONE at the head of the long sugar snax table where the birthday kid can be … worshipped? Mom get’s an ass-pillow for birthing the kid if she’s lucky and he gets a blow up throne for making it to 5? Parents huddled around the sugar room’s perimeter, not talking. A screaming match at the end of the table over juice boxes. Parents ignoring. A shoving match over who gets to go next in the long line snaking it’s way up to give presents to the birthday kid who is STILL SITTING ON THE INFLATA-THRONE. Parents ignoring. A kid who kneels in the remains of the Nemo cake. Parents oblivious. Chocolate candies being turned into missiles as kids throw the contents of their goodie bags at each other. Me, on goodie bags: “So the goodie is more sugar? Yeah, goodie.” Me, running politeness boot camp on anyone sorry enough to get close: “Oh, you want another juice? How do we ask? No, I said, HOW DO WE FUCKING ASK?!?!?!” (Except I didn’t really swear at a five year old. That would be wrong) Me, hating every parent in the room for raising little turds. Me, feeling so much love for my child I might pop because all she wants is the opportunity to ask politely for another slice of cheese pizza and to get the hell outta there.
These things are designed to make us love our kids more. At least, that’s my theory. I feel ya. Happy birthday to your kiddo, in any event. You’re a trooper.