I said, on my initial post, that I might write, upon occasion, about people who cannot parent in public. If I had a dollar for every parenting theory out there…I would probably have about $10,000, but I’m not debating Tiger Mom-ness over breast feeding an eighteen year old. I will leave that to the experts.
I am writing this post as an Aunt. I am the Auntie to one of the most adorable kids on the planet and I take her, very often, to the library. Why? I like to read, and I wanted to share that with her. Since she was about five months old, I have taken her to the library and read her a few books – in fact, she’s been there so often, that all the librarians greet her by name – she’s the Mayor of the Children’s Section.
She is also only 15 months. She’s little.
Recently I took her to the library, and there were other kids in the section – not unusual, it’s the library. There were two children there whose ages I would put at about four years old, and they both had adult supervision, well, kinda.
The little four year old girl had a Nanny, who was doing her best to remind her how to behave – and that little girl was fine, until she met…oh let’s call him…..Zeke. (I don’t know anyone with a kid named Zeke so that’s why I’m picking it)
Dear old Zeke had a Mom, she was right there, sitting on the couch next to him, not paying any attention to him. She was thumbing through TIME Magazine, texting, and in general, letting the world know how annoyed she was at being heavily pregnant. A condition which I was sympathetic to, having given birth myself about a week prior.
Zeke’s Mom was uninterested in Zeke – she was letting a Nanny, who Zeke did not know, who was there with other kids, try to get him to sit down. Nanny had an infant in a carriage, so she was distracted and it was hard for her to keep both four year olds contained.
Zeke decided to start hurling the books across the table, because that seemed fun. It seemed fun to him, and to the other little peanut he met there, let’s call her Apple. (I’m choosing Apple because I don’t know Gywneth Paltrow). So there are Zeke and Apple, playing caber toss with children’s books, and on the other end of the table is me, and my little Niece who has two working eyes, which I was hoping she would not lose at the library.
I was keeping a keen eye on Zeke’s physical prowess, which drew the ire of his Mom. Now, it’s interesting to note, she didn’t give a rat’s ass about the fact that her son was behaving in a way that could possibly hurt other kids, nope. What she was concerned about was ME. My eyes specifically. The fact that she looked Caucasian and I do not, may have played into it. She had quite a few things to say about my eyes.
“Why do you keep looking at him!” she said. And, actually, I didn’t know she was talking to me, because I was involved with my niece, and reading to her – only looking up when a book came too close or when the screaming reached higher decibels.
Me: “I’m sorry, are you talking to me?”
Her: “WHY do you keep looking at him? Like, you keep looking at him, rolling your eyes. You should keep those eyes away from him. Don’t you dare roll your eyes at him”.
Me: “I was not rolling my eyes. He’s throwing books, I don’t want her to get hurt, some of them were pretty close”
What she was implying was, that I was rolling my eyes because of her lack of parenting. (And let’s face it, I was – but on the INSIDE because I was way more concerned with ducking that flying copy of the latest Newberry Award Winner.)
Her: “Oh. That wasn’t what I thought you were going to say.”
Me: “And what did you think I was going to say?”
I suppose she thought I was going to yell at her about her lack of parenting in public. Or perhaps because my niece looks Caucasian and I do not, she assumed that I was the Nanny, and would not dare to speak to one of the Moms. Which happens quite a bit, because my Niece and I have completely different coloring – she is blond and blue eyed, and I…am not. Mom was ready to tell me off, she was gearing up to be confrontational, and honestly, she picked the wrong person.
I frequently joke that I was ‘raised by Gay Wolves’ and if someone sasses me, I am not above a ‘shade throw’ to put them in their place.
However, I had a 15 month old with me, and my first job was to make sure she made it out of the library in the same condition I brought her in. With both eyes and no bruises. So I just stared her down. Like I thought she was crazier than a rat trapped in a coffee can. I stared so hard I thought I was in a movie about people with extraordinary abilities that are metaphors for being Gay. I was “Storm”.
She finally moved herself to call Zeke to her side, ostensibly to ‘help’, which it did not – because Zeke began screaming at the top of his lungs. He broke from his mother, grabbed a book, screamed, and then threw it in our general direction. I grabbed my Niece, and a few books, and started to take her to another section.
At which point, that Mom started screaming at me, asking me why I was leaving, when she was trying to ‘help’ by corralling her son.
Soooo many answers ran through my head, and I have watched enough Reality TV to know the ins and outs of table flipping. I had a choice to make, as an Auntie and as a human being – do I take the high road, or do I let his very, very rude woman have it? I wrapped myself in my inner sequined dress, boa, and five inch heels, I levitated with umbrage.
I replied, “I am leaving, because your son is misbehaving. I do not want her to learn that his behavior is acceptable in the library, because it is not. He is throwing books, and you are letting him – which is dangerous. You are texting and reading a magazine. You are not parenting right now, when now is the time to do it. Ostensibly before you have to send him to military school for bad behavior. I am moving her to a safe distance now, Good day.”
I was Dustin Hoffman, dressed as a woman, bidding good day to Dr. Brewster on a mythical soap opera.
I grabbed my Niece and we went to a quieter section and successfully read several stories. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched the woman quickly gather her son and loudly take her leave. Yelling the whole time that she was leaving. My Niece and I watched her go.
In retrospect, I think I was more Julia Sugarbaker.
The other lady there, who had been largely silent – the actual Nanny, also gathered up her charges. As she took her kids out, she stopped and looked at me, and gave me a thumbs up.
I pretended that I was Mary Poppins and that while neither of us were ever to speak of this most infamous of days – a day of raised voices in the library, I understood her thumbs up. Spit spot.
Parenting is a job. I know, because I have it. On that day in the library, at least one of the Moms was ‘unemployed’.
On a final note – my 15 month old niece can spell. Because I read to her, and spell things when I take her places. She knows what the P-A-R-K is. Also that she likes to S-W-I-M in the P-O-O-L. I like to think that I teach her something new every time I see her.
On that day, she learned that you do not have to curse to be a B-A-D A-S-S.