Granderson says he has an issue with parents unable or unwilling to discipline their children. If this were really the case, I'd back him up 100 percent. But that's not what I got from his unsubstatiated, anecdotal diatribe. No, what I took away from this piece is that Granderson has an issue with the existence of children.
Granderson has some news for parents.
"I do not love your child," he says. "The rest of the country does not love your child either."
Mr. Granderson, here's a news flash for you. We don't love you either. Our presence in your vicinity has nothing to do with a fondness for people who dislike children.
He goes on.
"The reason why we're staring at you every other bite is not because we're acknowledging some sort of mutual understanding that kids will be kids but rather we want to kill you for letting your brat ruin our dinner. Or our plane ride. Or trip to the grocery store."
Well, thank you for clearing that up. All this time, I thought the hatred-filled stares thrown our way when one of the kids had a breakdown was really just a mask hiding the overwhelming waves of love underneath. I was convinced that each heavy sigh and eye roll was a gesture of kind understanding and sympathy.
Oh, wait, no I wasn't. I know you hate us in that moment. I assure you, I am doing everything in my power to fix it, be it leaving the restaurant, ditching the cart in the grocery store, or taking a bathroom trip on the flight.
But, really, we need to come to a compromise. What would you have families do? Stay holed up in their homes until their child rearing and discipline training is complete? Because that "look" you mention doesn't just work overnight. "The look" takes time, skill and practice. My three year olds are just now getting the look. Should I have stayed in my living room all this time, so as not to step on your toes?
While Granderson may have a handle on how he disciplined his child and what worked for him, I do not believe that gives him the right to assume that all other parents who may do things a bit differently don't discipline at all.
"And we know you don't discipline them at home because you don't possess "the look." If you had "the look," you wouldn't need to say "sit down" a thousand times."
How smug of him.
Look, when I didn't have children, I didn't like children. They're loud. They're obnoxious. I simply did not care for them. In fact, I'm positive I'm guilty of saying five years ago, "Why are they here? Do they think the Starbucks is a Chuck E. Cheese?" As if they didn't have the right to get a coffee. A coffee they probably needed 100 times more than I did, since they were undertaking the admirable and difficult task of acclimating their children to the world. Still, my experiences didn't affect me further than that because if it went on for too long and the parents refused to leave my coffee shop, I could very easily go to the one on the corner. Which I did. No harm, no foul.
I understand what Granderson means. I understand the small section of parents to whom he is speaking. But he's not speaking to that small section of parents. He's speaking to all parents. Who hasn't had a normally well-behaved little one turn into a puddle in public randomly? And when that happens, who hasn't had onlookers ogling them and their children, hatred dripping from their eyes? As if our children are always this bad because we didn't use "the look." As if we're purposely trying to ruin everyone's night, including our own. As if we think the world owes us for having kids.
No. We want to disappear. We are mortified. We feel like bad parents (even if we're not, which is usually the case) and we want to get out as fast as possible.
"I have seen a small child slap her mother in the face with an open hand, only to be met with 'Honey, don't hit Mommy,'" Granderson laments.
I say, good for her! What would you have had her do, Mr. Granderson? Hit the child back? Yell at the child in public? Grab the child's hand in a threatening manner? Make more of a scene using negative discipline techniques to satisfy your perverse need to discipline someone else's child by proxy? I'm open to your suggestions, but you didn't give any. To me, a mother capable of being calm and controlled when her child slaps her in the face in front of people while still being able to show that child the incorrectness of the behavior is a hero. To be able to do that, to show positive discipline under such duress and embarrassment, is a strength not many know.
Like I said, we all need to come to a compromise. If you don't want a screaming child in your face while you eat dinner, well, I'll do my best to keep my kids from acting up. If that, for whatever reason, doesn't work on any particular night, you could stop eating at the Cheesecake Factory and go to an actual adult restaurant. If you really need the peas-in-a-can directly opposite the baby food in the aisle, I'll do my best to thwart any upcoming tantrums. If I fail, perhaps you could go get your bread first while I try to control my child, instead of subjecting yourself and me to your discomfort.
My biggest problem with this piece is how sure Granderson is that all parents think they should be treated in a special manner with an excess of understanding simply because kids will be kids.
"Parents who expect complete strangers to just deal with it are not doing anyone, including their children, any favors. They are actually making things worse."
But I don't know any parents like that. There are some out there, but I haven't met them yet. Have you?
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