I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I am not going to be singled out for the “Mother of the Year” award. That’s fine. My parenting style isn’t for everyone. That’s okay. I’m aware that we all parent differently. I try not to judge.
Take the whole sugar debate, for example. I never limited my kid’s sugar intake. Sugar never really affected her adversely, so I never saw the need to go the “no sugar” route. Once in a while I even let her have ice cream for breakfast. She was never a sugar fiend, so I gave in to her oddly-timed ice cream requests on occasion. My logic was that it was probably no worse for her than sugary cereal, which she never ate either (she never liked any of them).
To address what were, according to Fangette, some gaping holes in her sweater wardrobe, we hightailed it over to the mall. To address what was, to her mother, the low blood sugar that always follows such activity, we stopped for some frozen yogurt. There was a man in front of us with his two young boys. I would put their ages at about 5 and 7. It was one of those places where you fill the cup with whatever flavor(s) of fro-yo you like and add the toppings of your choice. They weigh it and charge you by the ounce. I think gold may be cheaper.
It’s very easy to make yourself a $9 cup of deliciousness. I know this because my daughter and her friend did it once. It didn’t look like much, just some yogurt with strawberries and bananas. But it cost me about $18 for their post-shopping snackage. Whatever. You live and you learn. The friend felt so badly that she was trying to force me to take her money, which I would never dream of doing. I was like, “Relax. It’s just a couple more bucks than Dairy Queen. Nobody died.” Oh, my God, I thought the kid was going to have a coronary over it. It was kind of funny.
I’m always grateful in these moments that I’m not a cheapskate. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have buckets of money lying around, but I just can’t get all worked up over a couple of bucks. The guy in front of me at the yogurt place clearly did not share my attitude regarding money. Nor were we on the same page concerning sugar and its relationship to the average American child.
Holy Crapbags! Initially, he was flipping out about the fact that they only had “giant containers”. Yup. They do. I guess because they are running an establishment of the retail variety. To combat the sinister motives of the frozen yogurt marketing department, he made a failed attempt to get his kids to share one cup. If he had convinced his children to share one cup of frozen yogurt, I would have been pretty darn impressed. He didn’t. I wasn’t.
Once that plan was foiled by his two very cute, but slightly stubborn, little boys, he proceeded to read off the yogurt flavors. He left a few out. The older one who, presumably, could read (I suspect the younger one could, too), helpfully (and proudly) pointed out that his father had forgotten the chocolate. The father mumbled something that sounded like “I didn’t forget. It’s just too late for chocolate. Too much sugar.”
I would have to agree on the “too late” comment. It was about 7:45 PM on a school night. I was always a bit of a stickler about bedtime. To me, these kids should have been bathed and in their jammies at this point in the evening, but we all have our moments. What did I know? Maybe they were out shopping for Mommy’s birthday gift (Mom did not seem to be a participant in this outing). Again, not judging.
The chocolate vs. vanilla debate finally settled, the father then started to flip out regarding the amount of product they were putting in their containers. Now I was maybe, just maybe, judging a little. Because he had neither helped them nor directed them in how to use the dispensers. Dispensers that I have trouble controlling, by the way.
Finally, he realized that he needed to assist them, but not before carrying on about what “these stupid yogurts are going to cost him.” This is when I had to bite my tongue. Because I hate when adults kvetch about money to children. There is nothing wrong with, “No. You cannot have that” or, “We can’t go to the movies/dinner/the circus/wherever today.” If they are old enough it probably wouldn’t hurt to add something along the lines of, “That’s just not in the budget this week.” But, really, to carry on over the cost of a cup of yogurt? It’s just stupid. Especially when a few yards away there is a supermarket where you can buy a half-gallon of ice cream for $2.49.
Cups filled and toppings chosen, they raced over and chose seats at the tables; tables that are equipped with iPads. iPads loaded with games. What little boys coul be expected to avoid the lure of that? The second they each took a seat in front of an iPad the father starts barking at them that they’re “too little to play those games” and how he “doesn’t have time for this nonsense.”
I watch them follow him out. I figured that he put them in the car. I secretly hoped that they dripped their fro-yo all over the seats. It would serve him right. Because he was really just annoying me at this point.
My daughter and I paid for our treats and were just about to engage in a lively round of “Angry Birds” when my kid nodded toward the mall and said, “Awwwww, Mom. I wouldn’t feel right playing in front of them. Let’s go.” I looked out the window and there they sat, the two little cutie pies, on a bench outside the store, watching us gearing up to play on the iPads.
Once I saw them, I knew I couldn’t stay. Poor little things. And really, what was the father’s point? He was just being a prick. Throwing his weight around. Because he could. I hope he was just having a bad day. I really do. If not, he’s in for a rude awakening. Because you don’t have to be “Mother of the Year” to know that your children will eventually treat you (and others) the way they have been treated. For better or for worse.
I get that I’m lucky. That I only have the one child. And that she’s a pretty good kid. And while I try not to judge, it was difficult to watch the whole experience turn sour for these two little boys and not judge this guy at least a little.
photo credit: luuux.com