“Don’t Climb Up There…”

Her little terror is running around the cafe, climbing on chairs, grabbing food and plates from tables, and generally ignoring her injunctions. Perhaps because she doesn’t mean them. It is clear to her 3-year-old that she doesn’t mean them. The mother has already lost the opportunity to establish her authority. And now we, the rest of the world, will have to pay the price.

As Little Hellion is pulling at cups on the counter, mom is sitting on her ass explaining to another woman that he is “willful” and “stubborn,” that he doesn’t listen well, and that he is difficult to control. Note, her efforts to corral her child has extended only so far as saying “Don’t climb up there,” said over her shoulder as she continues to talk to the woman at the next table over.

Exactly what makes Lazy Mom think that Little Hellion will mind her? Oh, nothing. She clearly depends on the rest of us to endure her child and her parenting techniques. The rest of us have to move our drinks, pick up our bags, hold on to our food so that Lazy Mom doesn’t have to tend to her child.

Lazy Mom tells Little Hellion to “Stay right there, by your sister” and watches him dart off across the restaurant. And rather than reprimand him, scold him, explain in soft and empowering words that such behavior is inappropriate, she simply plopped her ass down on the couch and resumed a conversation with yet another woman.

Moms don’t have a monopoly on lax parenting, on the assumption that everybody else must bear the burden of raising their children or getting out of the way, but such moms are incredibly common out here on the Mainline. They let their little darlings maraud around spreading destruction. In some demented and twisted version of Rousseau, they turn their kids loose in the social wilderness, assuming that a radically unstructured and disciplined upbringing is better for the child. It’s like Emile for the rich and privileged. Emile wandering amongst the Range Rovers and BMWs.

But no, that’s giving the moms too much credit. Madame Bovary is probably more the model. They don’t seem to realize that parenting is work. That it is tiring. That is a thankless task and requires constant attention. They refuse to admit that they are no longer young, single, and free of responsibility. Rather than raise their children, they compete with each other to see who is the most attractive, whose vacations are the most “exotic.” Children have become something you have, not a person you raise.

Little Hellion just hit me with his lolly pop. Not accidentally. He stood next to me, looked at me, grinned, and smacked my arm with his sucker. When I asked him not to do it again, Lazy Mom told me she would take care of him. Her solution: “That’s not nice, Little Hellion.” He giggled and walked away armed with his sticky lolly pop.

Sorry Lazy Mom, that’s not the appropriate response.