Posted by: Kate | October 3, 2009

Less Than Adorable

Not every child is cute.

And if we’ve been standing in line for 20 minutes, watching while your children run around and hit, scratch and spit on each other, while they bump into strangers and don’t bother apologizing, while they call each other names we’ve been working hard to keep out of our own household vocabulary, they just keep on losing cute units by the second.

Especially when your method of discipline is to pick one of their names and repeat it, sharply and nasally, ten or twenty times until that child finally changed its actions – not due to your “effort,” mind you, but because each of them has the attention span of a flea and something else has come along to distract from whichever offensive behavior warranted your name-repetition hissing.

Even when you finally realize that there are other people waiting in the same line, all of whom have children because the line is for a child-specific event, and suddenly you decide to organize your Future Sociopaths of America into an aisle-hogging game of Simon Says (which, by the way, you weren’t playing by the rules and so why bother having a game in the first place?), they don’t suddenly reattain any recently lost cuteness because you have decided to switch from lackadaisical ineffectuality to cloying overinvolvement.  In fact, they just continue to lose cute at an alarming rate, because now that they have your attention they are only increasing their obnoxious behaviors.

Which is all fine, I suppose.  You’re the one who’s going to have to live with these children long-term, and it is evident to me that they have absolutely no idea how to view you as an authority figure, so we all know that their behavior doesn’t exactly improve in the privacy of your own home.

But please, don’t look to me for a wry smile of parental solidarity.  My kids were waiting – a bit antsy, sure, and bored, but persistently polite, keeping their hands and bodily fluids to themselves – and behaving themselves well, specifically because I have spent years working with them on how to display appropriate public behavior.  You and I are not in the same boat here, victims to the fundamental uncontrollability that is childhood.  You are busy creating the types of people that my children will need to grow up and balance out in some way, whether it comes in the form of work ethic, mental health, or criminal behavior.

And now, many hours later?  Your kids still aren’t cute.

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Responses

  1. Oy. The only time I smile in parental solidarity is when I see the parent strugging to do the right thing by containing a child who is out of control.

    Last week, on the way to the farmers’ market, I came across a dad dragging his son, who had gone boneless and screaming, back to the car because he wasn’t behaving. I wished the dad good luck.

    The mom at ballet who wouldn’t take her screaming daughter who didn’t want to go to class outside to deal with the meltdown and instead disrupted all the classes in session – including the pros who were rehearsing? I just glared at her as I listened to her offer the child increasingly ridiculous bribes, none of which worked.

  2. Ugh, you have my sympathies. Not only are all children not cute, but not all “parents” are parents.


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