So I’m coming out of the local Smith’s grocery store. I’ve been doing shopping for a few basics.
And as my car comes into view, I am greeted by the following scene: A shopping cart is against my car and has made a scratch on a rear body panel. A kid of maybe three or four is sitting on my car’s hood throwing a loud tantrum, kicking my hood. Another kid of maybe 6-7 is standing absent-mindedly while he kicks my rocker panels over and over again. And a middle-aged white woman in Lululemons is silently unloading her groceries from the cart (yes, the one scratching my car) into her trunk.
She sees me approach. She does and says nothing differently, even after it’s clear to her that it’s my car. Apparently putting her precious groceries away is more important than a stranger’s property, and more important than her childrens’ manners.
I am about as irritated as a person can be. But I say nothing. I do, however, shoot her some side-eye, to drive home the point that I’d like to get in my car and leave, as opposed to sitting there like a servant watching her do her thing while she and her kids bang up my car.
She turns to me with anger. “What?”
“I’m sorry, I’d like to get in my car and go home,” I say. Not yelling, not angrily. Matter-of-factly.
And this is apparently too much for her. She lets loose. Like really lets loose. Apparently I am coming at her all high and mighty with my little bag of groceries and I no doubt have some poor wife at home who right this second is dealing with screaming kids while doing my laundry and cooking my meals, but I don’t care, I’m going to go out shopping and come and harass another woman trying to do the impossible task of womanhood/motherhood and can’t I see that she’s got a situation going on and she’s doing the best she can and I’m an entitled man so I have no idea whatsoever, I just take for granted that she’ll do what I say and make room for me, and men don’t have any idea just how hard it is nor do we care to learn and of course if we actually tried it we’d fail miserably and all be running home and crying to our mothers to have ‘grandma’ take care of the kids, but of course it doesn’t have to happen because we just don’t chip in and society is fine with that, we go to our man caves and play our video games and leave the women to the work.
The actual fuck.
I didn’t tell her that actually I am a single father who works full-time from home, pays a full-time Utah salary every month in alimony and child support, and takes care of my kids at the very same time every single workday and has done for years. I didn’t tell her that my house is clean, my bills are all paid, and my kids never, ever throw wailing tantrums in public, nor do they deface other peoples’ property. I didn’t tell her that as a single father, I do my own laundry, clean my own dishes, manage my own household, and at the same time I do my job, do it well, and that I never, ever get my kids to school or their near-daily extracurricular activities late. I didn’t tell her that I don’t yell, I don’t spank, and I don’t threaten and that I never, ever “lose it” at either the kids or at other people because that is just not what mature people do. At all.
I didn’t tell her and that we laugh and we play games and the kids work on projects while I sit at the table and multitask with them every single day, and that we get to multiple destination outings every week. I didn’t tell her that my kids don’t throw themselves onto other peoples cars and pound them, wailing, when I say they can’t have candy or that it’s time to go to bed, or that I read them stories every night. And my kids don’t even have the advantages that hers presumably have, seeing as how she’s strongly implying having a husband at home, while we’ve all been through a very contentious divorce and the kids have to shuttle back and forth on weekends. But they don’t act like this lady’s kids. And they know full well it’s not allowed. (And yes, I cooked and cleaned and did laundry and feedings and diaper changes in my marriage, too. Yes, a real, honest-to-god fair and cooperative share—as I was, after all, the one home all day with the kids, because I worked from home.)
I didn’t tell her that my kids are both still pre-first-grade but they are brave and awesome and smart, help out around the house—often without being asked—and don’t even cry when they get shots at the doctor’s office anymore.
My kids wouldn’t dream of behaving like these kids were behaving in public and more to the point I wouldn’t dream of behaving like this sporty young blonde was behaving in public, because I am an actual grown-up and a good parent.
© Aron Hsiao / 2016
No, I didn’t say any of these things before she finally finished getting the last of her bags into the sliding side-door, half-ass-buckled her kids in, and then slammed her own door and drove off with righteous indignation.
I didn’t say them, but boy, did I think them.
No, contrary to current prevailing “wisdom,” parenthood is not actually that hard. Sorry, it just isn’t. And no it’s not a secret what it’s like. Human beings have only been doing it since, oh, I don’t know, the dawn of humanity.
Two generations ago you wouldn’t have found anyone with kids that behaved this way, nor would you have found anyone that didn’t guffaw at the idea that simply being a parent is dangerous hard work of the heroic variety. It’s neither rocket science nor firefighting. It just isn’t. It’s just plain being responsible and consistent and patient, and that’s all.
This is going to sound aggro, but… I know why your kids act like spoiled brats, lady.